The Story in Frame
Fiction in the grand scheme is accepted as false, and yet readers allow themselves to be fooled, for a time, getting caught up in the story. There are many devises that can enhance the trip through reality into a place where dragons roam or a woman could live for ages. In Haggard’s She we are given a frame narrative where a manuscript is sent to an elusive character known as ‘The Editor.’
Here the frame narrative adds to the believability that this book or story came from somewhere unknown and then being found interesting was printed for a larger audience. The use of frame narratives was fairly common during the 19th century. Other popular novels using this device are Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. These books along with She tell a tale inside an external set up that adds depth to the main plot. All books are written by someone, but the idea that someone read a story and finding it worthy published it for the world gives it more weight. It’s like a book we read that a friend suggested because they loved it. We read those books more closely and learn a bit about our friend in the process. While the frame narrative doesn’t change the story it does change our view of the story. On the surface the frame sets up the thought that the narrator, being part of the tale, is unreliable. However it could also be argued that stories so unbelievable being told by ordinary people are all the more believable because the individual is staking his reputation on a tale that could not possible be true, and yet they are telling it.
In She, the introduction and Holly’s comments throughout reflecting on the possible audience give more depth to the story, and enhance the mystical possibility of the events he describes. From the beginning of the novel we are prepared for a tale “of a phenomenon…of unparalleled interest” (Haggard 13). With this introduction we expect a fantastically entry, and we are not disappointed. The idea of a hand writing the words we read as an attempt at exactly recording events that actually occurred adds the unbelievably believability of the text. As the story progresses Holly reflects on the possibility of his words being read almost as if he finds the idea absurd. At one point Holly refers to the relief of the reader reaching the end of his long monologue about the stars. This acknowledgment of Holly considering the reader in the manuscript continues the connection through the story.
As Holly comes to the end of his fantastic history he does not entreat us to believe his tale. After living and reliving these events his thoughts end as can be expected of a very intelligent man with many unanswered questions. Holly muses over the list of things not understood at the end of what began as a whimsical trek into the unknown, masked as a hunting trip. Here the frame is left open with no connection back to the editor. We are left to come to our own conclusions after such a fanciful tale.
Haggard, Henry R. She. New York: Penguin Classics, 2001. 96, 118, 193. Print
Veselka, Vanessa. “She.” I am a terrible blogger. 2010. JPEG file.