How does the frame-story structure create tension?

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tim swaan eOpewngf68w unsplash

Frame-story is a literary device that uses a narrating character who recounts the story of the protagonist to vernacular and those who are listening. 

This narrative technique is used in many famous novels such as “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain and “The Lady with the Pet Dog” by Catherine Storr. 

Here is the answer for, how does the frame story structure create tension?

However, through this structure, writers create tension as the narrator takes away moments from the protagonist during their journey with events such as getting lost or running away. In the book 

“The Lady with the Pet Dog” by Catherine Storr, the narrator, a young boy who is 10 years old, narrates about a young girl who is 12 named Juliette. 

He tells her story from the point of view that he knows and also explains how he knows Juliette through a series of events that occurred during his childhood.

Here are some points discussed about the frame-story structure create tension-

1.The frame-story structure creates tension as the protagonist.

Juliette is taken away from her journey by events such as being lost or being hurt. 

  • The first event that causes tension was when Jasper took Juliette’s brother, Tom. He didn’t want her to have anything to do with Tom after he saw Tom carry two dead cats into their house because these are animals that are his food source. 
  • The second event that caused tension is when Juliette falls off of a window sill while she was jumping into the lake and then gets her head stuck in the water and almost dies. She is saved by Jasper’s wife, who tells Juliette that her name is Alice. 
  • The third tension was caused when Jasper wanted to take Juliette away from the house to his brother’s home, but she didn’t want to go with him because she had become friends with Alice. 
  • The fourth event was when Juliette ran away from her home and went back to England because Alice was dying and Jasper didn’t want her to be around him any more. 

2. It takes away time from the protagonist.

The narration of the story is on long, long after Juliette and Tom went back home and had become very old. During this period of time, she was able to overcome her fear of travelling and decided to travel to Africa to visit Alice and Jasper. 

It took her approximately two years to travel there by train, boat, bus etc. However, this journey could have been possible in one month if she hadn’t been told stories by Jasper’s wife – Alice. 

This device used by Catherine Storr creates tension because it takes away time from the protagonist who really wanted to go back home immediately after she ran away from Jasper’s house in England.

3. It takes away other characters or moments from the protagonist.

During the stories of Tom and Jasper, we saw other important characters such as the policeman, the butler and other servants who were very important in their journey. 

They were also very close to them and helped them in many ways such as helping them find their way through London during a blackout. 

However, while visiting Alice, Juliette did not see Alice’s sister – May because she left for Africa before Juliette arrives there. This created tension because she missed her and wanted to see her again.

4. It creates tension by taking away the main aim of the protagonist.

The protagonist wanted to go home to her parents after she ran away from Jasper’s house and she wanted to see Alice again, but she couldn’t see them both because of other things that occurred during her journey. 

She missed Tom and Alice, and didn’t get to go back home again as soon as possible. She wanted to see them and return home as soon as possible, but these events made it take much longer for her to return home. 

This created a lot of physical and emotional tension for the protagonist during the story which eventually resulted in her death at age 18 from typhoid fever.

5. It creates tension by being lost in the crowd.

While she was in Jasper’s house, she couldn’t find her way back home because there were so many people there during the blackout. This created tension because she didn’t know where to go or how to get back home. 

This event also made her feel lost and alone without her brother or parents around. 

This situation made it difficult for her to return home even though she had wanted very much to return home while all these events were occurring while she was at Jasper’s house.


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