An Epistolary Device And Its Role In Literature

The assigned literary device is called epistolary, and the Literary Devices website defines it as follows “Epistolary is a literary genre pertaining to letters” (LiteraryDevices Editors, 2014). So, the use of the literary device contains a wide range of works from journals and newspapers, meaning the genre can be observed both in literature and everyday life. The letter format requires the author to express personal issues and use first or second-person pronouns.

The examples of epistolary works in the literature vary in genre from fantasy novels to romances, and one of such novels is Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. The narrator of the story is Robert Walton, one of the story’s main characters (Shelley, 2012). The story has Victor Frankenstein as the protagonist and his monster as an antagonist of the story. The novel is written as epistolary, where Robert writes from Victor’s point of view, and Victor addresses his letters from his monster.

Another example of epistolary is Jane Austen’s novel, “Lady Susan.” The characters in the story communicate through the letters they wrote in the first-person narrative, which makes the book epistolary. Every chapter is a letter addressed from one character to another. For example, here is a quote from the third chapter – a letter addressed from Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy “My dear Mother, — I am very sorry to tell you…” (Austen, 2011, p. 12). This represents that the book is written in the genre this essay discusses.

The last famous example of the epistolary novel is Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s “The Sorrows of Young Werther.” The book is narrated by its main character – Werther – who talks about his worries and feelings regarding his unrequited love. Every letter is signified by its date and is addressed to the reader of the book. For example, the book starts with Werther approaching the reader with the words: “My dear friend, what a thing is the heart of man!” (Goethe, 2012, p. 3). This novel is Goethe’s epistolary work that readers of any age and gender might enjoy.

To conclude, the epistolary genre means writing a literary work in the form of letters from a novel’s characters addressed to anyone. The genre often needs a first-person narrative, and being a letter requires details about personal issues and worries. The epistolary books might include other literary devices to make the story’s language more enjoyable to the reader.

Works Cited

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 2017.

Austen Jane. Lady Susan. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 2017.

Goethe Johann Wofgang von. The Sorrows of Young Werther. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 2017.

LiteraryDevices Editors. “Epistolary” LiteraryDevices.net. 2013. Web.