Mary Frame Biography & Facts
A frame story (also known as a frame tale, frame narrative, sandwich narrative or intercalation) is a literary technique that serves as a companion piece to a story within a story, where an introductory or main narrative sets the stage either for a more emphasized second narrative or for a set of shorter stories. The frame story leads readers from a first story into one or more other stories within it. The frame story may also be used to inform readers about aspects of the secondary narrative(s) that may otherwise be hard to understand. This should not be confused with narrative structure or character personality change.
Some of the earliest known frame stories are those from ancient Egypt, including one found in the Papyrus Westcar, the Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor, and The Eloquent Peasant. Other early examples are from Indian literature, including the Sanskrit epics Mahabharata, Ramayana, Panchatantra, Syntipas's The Seven Wise Masters, and the fable collections Hitopadesha and Vikram and The Vampire. This form gradually spread west through the centuries and became popular, giving rise to such classic frame tale collections as the One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights), The Decameron, and Canterbury Tales. This format had flexibility in that various narrators could retain the stories they liked or understood, while dropping ones they didn't and adding new ones they heard from other places. This occurred particularly with One Thousand and One Nights, where different versions over the centuries have included different stories.
The use of a frame story in which a single narrative is set in the context of the telling of a story is also a technique with a long history, dating back at least to the beginning section of the Odyssey, in which the narrator Odysseus tells of his wandering in the court of King Alcinous.
A set of stories
This literary device acts as a convenient conceit for the organization of a set of smaller narratives, which are either of the devising of the author or taken from a previous stock of popular tales, slightly altered by the author for the purpose of the longer narrative. Sometimes a story within the main narrative can be used to sum up or encapsulate some aspect of the framing story, in which case it is referred to in literary criticism by the French term mise en abyme.
A typical example of a frame story is One Thousand and One Nights, in which the character Shahrazad narrates a set of fairy tales to the Sultan Shahriyar over many nights. Many of Shahrazad's tales are also frame stories, such as Tale of Sindbad the Seaman and Sindbad the Landsman, a collection of adventures related by Sindbad the Seaman to Sindbad the Landsman.
Extensive use of this device is found in Ovid's Metamorphoses, where the stories nest several deep, to allow the inclusion of many different tales in one work. Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights uses this literary device to tell the story of Heathcliff and Catherine, along with the subplots. Her sister Anne also uses this device in her epistolary novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. The main heroine's diary is framed by the narrator's story and letters.
Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein is another good example of a book with multiple framed narratives. In the book, Robert Walton writes letters to his sister, describing the story told to him by Victor Frankenstein. Frankenstein's story contains the creature's story, and the creature's story even briefly contains the story of a family whom he had been observing.Frame stories have also appeared in other media, such as comic books. Neil Gaiman's comic book series The Sandman featured a story arc called Worlds End which consisted of frame stories, and sometimes even featured stories within stories within stories.
Frame stories are often organized as a gathering of people in one place for the exchange of stories. Each character tells his or her tale, and the frame tale progresses in that manner. Historically famous frame stories include Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, about a group of pilgrims who tell stories on their journey to Canterbury; and Boccaccio's Decameron about a group of young aristocrats escaping the Black Death in the countryside and spending the time telling stories.
Sometimes only one storyteller exists, and in this case there might be different levels of distance between the reader and author. In this mode, the frame tale can become more fuzzy. In Washington Irving's Sketch Book, which contains "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle" among others, the conceit is that the author of the book is not Irving, but a certain gentleman named Crayon. Here the frame includes the world of the imagined Crayon, his stories, and the possible reader who is assumed to play along and "know" who Crayon is.
Donald Westlake's short story "No Story" is a parody of frame stories, in which a series of narrators start to tell stories, each of which contains a narrator who starts to tell a story, culminating in a narrator who announces that there will be no story. Essentially, it is a frame story without a story to be framed.
When there is a single story, the frame story is used for other purposes – chiefly to position the reader's attitude toward the tale. One common one is to draw attention to the narrator's unreliability. By explicitly making the narrator a character within the frame story, the writer distances him or herself from the narrator; she or he may also characterize the narrator to cast doubt on the narrator's truthfulness. In P. G. Wodehouse's stories of Mr Mulliner, Mulliner is made a fly fisherman in order to cast doubt on the outrageous stories he tells. The movie Amadeus is framed as a story an old Antonio Salieri tells to a young priest, because the movie is based more on stories Salieri told about Mozart than on historical fact.
Another use is a form of procatalepsis, where the writer puts the readers' possible reactions to the story in the characters listening to it. In The Princess Bride the frame of a grandfather reading the story to his reluctant grandson puts the cynical reaction a viewer might have to the romantic fairytale into the story in the grandson's persona, and helps defuse it. This is the use when the frame tells a story that lacks a strong narrative hook in its opening; the narrator can engage the reader's interest by telling the story to answer the curiosity of his listeners, or by warning them that the story began in an ordinary seeming way, but they must follow it to understand later actions, thereby identifying the reader's wondering whether the story is worth reading to the listeners'. Such an approach was used by Edith Wharton in her novella Ethan Frome, in which a nameless narrator hears from many characters in the town of Starkfield about the main character Ethan's story.
A specialized form of the frame is a dream vision, where the narrator claims to have gone to sleep, dreamed the events of the st.... Discover the Mary Frame popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Mary Frame books.