Mary Shelley Frankenstein Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin: 30 August 1797 1 February 1851 Frankenstein is born I n the summer of 1816, a young, well-educated woman from England traveled with her lover to the Swiss Alps. Unseasonable rain kept them trapped inside their lodgings, where they entertained themselves by reading ghost stories. At the urging of renowned poet Lord Byron, a friend and neighbor, they set their own pens to paper, competing to see who could write the best ghost story. The young woman, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin only 18 at the time, took the prize, having composed a story creepy enough not only to take its place alongside the old German tales that she and
her Alpine companions had been reading, but also to become a bestseller in her time and a Gothic classic that still resonates with readers almost two centuries later. Mary is born in Great Britain in 1797 to well-known parents but unfortunately, her mother dies in childbirth. At the age of 16, Mary meets the young poet Percy Bysshe Shelley who is married at the time. Later, his wife drowns herself so Mary and Percy get married. They travel around Europe together and it is in Switzerland that Percys close friend, the poet Byron, suggests that Mary, Percy, Polidori (another friend) and himself each writes a ghost story. Marys Frankenstein is the only story of the four that gets published as a novel. The last years of married life are filled with disaster for Mary. Her half sister dies as do two of her children. Mary becomes depressed, a tendency she probably
inherited from her mother. She is only partly relieved by the birth of Percy, their only surviving child out of the four she had given birth to. Mary and Percy eventually move to Italy where Percy drowns during a sailing trip in 1822. Mary is Frankenstein-the novel Frankenstein is an epistolary novel (written as a series of letters between the main characters) belonging in the Gothic genre. It is a story about a young Swiss student, who discovers the secret of animating lifeless matter and, by assembling body parts, creates a monster who vows revenge on his creator after being rejected from society.
The Gothic Novel What phrases, images, settings, characters do you associate with the word Gothic? graveyard monster suspense Inexplicable events Impending doom visions vampir e
supernatural Disturbing dreams loneliness Fearing the unknown sorrow omens ghosts shadows terror death
Popular in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Gothic fiction is a genre of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. It is a genre characterized by the use of intense emotion, the characterization of nature as a powerful and destructive force, the use of weather and atmosphere to depict mood, and the evocation of terror and horror. Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus The Modern
Prometheus is the subtitle of the book, which refers to the figure in Greek mythology who was responsible for a conflict between mankind and the gods. Greek myth: Prometheus, the fire stealer In order to help the people, Prometheus stole Zeus's fire from the sun. The people were thereby
given an advantage to the animals since fire gave man the ability to make weapons and tools. Prometheus was severely punished by Zeus who chained him to a rock in the Caucasus. Every night, Prometheus was visited by an eagle who ate from his liver. During the day, however, his liver grew back to Prometheus, the animator
It also refers to the story of Prometheus plasticator who was to said to have created and animated mankind out of clay. These two myths were eventually fused together: the fire that Prometheus had stolen is the fire of life with which he animated his clay models. Because of the 'creating' aspect, Prometheus became a symbol for the creating artist in the eighteenth century. ? How can Victor be seen as the modern Prometheus? In what way does Victor defy God? The three main characters: Victor Frankenstein Victor Frankenstein
is the eldest son of a wealthy, Genevese man, Alphonse, and his young wife, Caroline. Victor grows up in the perfect family with a happy childhood and a constant and devoted companion in his adopted cousin, Elizabeth. He is sensitive, intelligent, and passionate about his interests and becomes absorbed in the quest to find out what creates life. While away at college in Ingolstadt, Victor creates a being from scavenged corpse parts and gives it life, but is repulsed by its hideousness once it lives. The monster, in retaliation for Victor's negligence, destroys his life by killing off those Victor loves. Victor chases him to the far reaches of the Arctic planning to
destroy him and then die to escape his misery and remorse at his creation, but he dies aboard Walton's ship before he can catch the monster. Robert Walton ROBERT WALTON is the indirect narrator of the story, he tells Victor Frankenstein's story through letters to his sister, Margaret Saville. Walton is a self-educated man who set out to reach and explore the North Pole and find an Arctic passage to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. While his ship is locked in ice, his crew sees Frankenstein's monster pass by on a dog sled and Frankenstein himself, exhausted and weakened, not far behind. They take Frankenstein aboard and Walton nurses him and talks with him because he has been longing for a friend. In seeing
Walton's raw ambition to explore the North Pole at all costs, Frankenstein is prompted to tell the story of his destruction that a similar ambition brought upon him. After Frankenstein's death and just before the ship heads back to England, Walton is also the last to see the monster before he goes north to kill himself. The Monster THE MONSTER is created by Victor Frankenstein in Ingolstadt, and it is a conglomeration of human parts with inhuman strength. He is so hideous that Victor, his own creator, cannot stand to look upon him. He is loving and gentle at the beginning of his life, childlike in his curiosity and experiences, but after several harsh encounters with humans,
he becomes bitter. He seeks revenge on his creator for making him so hideous and rendering him permanently lonely because of his ugliness. He offers Frankenstein peace in exchange for a companion of like origin, but when Frankenstein does not comply, he vows to destroy him and begins killing off Frankenstein's friends and family -- those figures he most envies because he does not have them. After finding Frankenstein dead aboard Walton's ship, the monster goes further north with plans to destroy himself and end the suffering that Frankenstein began when he created him. The faces of Frankensteins creature The most wellknown face of
Frankensteins monster is that of Boris Karloff, who played the role of the monster in the 1931 motion picture Frankenstein. What are your first impressions of the monster? ? What words would you use to describe him? ?
Here, the monster is played by actor Robert De Niro. Pre-reading tasks The role of the family Statement It is a parents job, more than societys, to nurture his/her child. With the advent of genetic engineering and designer babies, parents now have less important roles in the birth process. All children are innately good. Every child needs mothering in order to become human. All parents love their children unconditionally, no matter how they look or act.
Children who are deformed physically or mentally should be isolated from society. True or false Explanation Pre-reading task The Ancient Mariner The Arctic When the novel opens, the explorer, Robert Walton is organizing an expedition through the Arctic, the area around and within the Arctic Circle and near the North Pole. The
Arctic Ocean covers most of this region, and more than half of the oceans surface is frozen at all times. Travel by ship is extremely dangerous. Huge sheets of ice float through the frigid waters, threatening to crush the vessels that appear in their paths. Background information Did You Know? In the letters, which set the stage for the novel, Robert Walton says he has been deeply affected by the narrative poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a leading poet of the Romantic era. In
the poem, an old sailor, or mariner, tells the story of a horrific sea voyage that changed his life. Sailing in stormy seas near the South Pole, the mariners ship is surrounded by ice. When the crewmen spot an albatross, a huge seagull-like bird, flying through the fog, the ice splits open, freeing the ship. Then, unexpectedly, the mariner shoots the albatross. After this act of cruelty, the ship is cursed. Driven north, it becomes stranded in a hot, windless sea. All of the crew except the mariner die. Ever since, the remorseful mariner has traveled the world to tell his story and to teach others to revere Gods creatures. Literary term: Allusion Waltons comments about The Ancient Mariner are examples of allusion. An allusion is a reference in a written work to something from history, art, religion, myth, or another work of literature.
Writers use allusions to give readers additional insights about what is happening in the story and why. Shelley makes frequent use of literary allusions in Frankenstein. Frankenstein: Letters 1-4 Character comparison Walton Vocabulary ardent adj. passionate countenance n.
face; expression dauntless adj. fearless harrowing adj. extremely distressing irrevocably adv. in a way impossible to change mariner n. navigator of a ship perseverance n. steady persistence Situation Goals Personal qualities
Attitude is searching for the source of magnetism in the polar regions The stranger Questions on Letters 1-4 1. Is Walton a reliable narrator? Why or why not? 2. Is Waltons goal to confer on all mankind . . . a passage near the pole noble or overly ambitious?
3. How does Roberts desire for a friend affect his relationship with Dr. Frankenstein? How might this relationship affect the readers trust in Walton as a reliable narrator? 4. Why is the poem The Ancient Mariner important to Walton? How is the stranger similar to the ancient mariner? What mood does Shelley create by alluding to this poem? 5. Walton has a thirst for knowledge, as the stranger once did. What details suggest that both are willing to make sacrifices in the search for knowledge? Do they seem unusual in this respect?
Chapters 1-10 Vocabulary benevolent BACKGROUND Two adj. showing charity commiserate v. to express sympathy consolation n. something that eases sorrow or disappointment discern v. to detect; to
perceive fiend n. evil spirit; devil hideous adj. extremely ugly omen n. a sign of future good or evil Well-Rounded Characters In Chapters 1 through 10, Shelley develops the two main characters in the novel: Victor Frankenstein and his creature. She also introduces a number of minor characters. Both Frankenstein and the creature have complex and multifaceted personalities. In this regard, they stand out from the other characters in the novel. When a fictional character has individuality and depth, and experiences personal growth or change, he or she is called a round
character. The opposite of a round character is a flat character. Round characters are life-like and threedimensional, while flat characters seem more like cardboard figures or stereotypes, and are not as well developed. Background information Did You Know? Victor Frankenstein develops an interest in science after reading about the wild fancies of several noted alchemists who lived 300 to 500 years before his lifetime. Alchemy was a field of philosophy that speculated about natural processes and often involved chemical experiments. Medieval alchemists believed they could find substances that would enable them to transform ordinary metals, such as lead, into gold or create a magical drink that would extend life and youth forever. While alchemy is not true science, the alchemists did make some scientific contributions. They discovered mineral acids and alcohol. They also invented
types of laboratory equipment and procedures, which were later modified and used by scientists. Character analysis Chapters 1-10 In Chapters 1 through 10, the author introduces the two major characters in the novel as well as several minor characters. In the chart below, list each character and note important details about his or her background or personality. Character Important details Victor Frankenstein From happy home; thirst for knowledge; hard-working Personal response to
chapters 1-10 1. What do you think of Victor Frankenstein as a student and scientist? What do you admire or dislike about his goals? Explain. 2. Who is Elizabeth and how does Frankenstein feel about her? What does their relationship tell you about Frankensteins values and personality? 3. What is Frankensteins purpose in pursuing science? What does he study? How do you interpret Frankensteins initial response to the success of his experiment? 4. Frankenstein says, I shunned my fellow creatures as if I had been guilty of a crime. From your reading, give specific examples of Frankensteins isolation from others. What does this tell you about his personality? Explain. 5. How is Frankenstein affected by the knowledge that the creature may be responsible for the death of William? In Chapter 7, what statement suggests that he views the creature as part of himself? Do you agree with Frankenstein that he bears some responsibility for Writing task
Thrills and Chills Gothic novels emphasize horror, mystery, and the supernatural. Write an analysis of the Gothic features of the novel Frankenstein that are evident in Chapters 1 through 10. How does Shelley establish an atmosphere of mystery? How does the action create a feeling of terror in the reader? What supernatural elements does she include? Consider setting, plot, and character in your analysis. Chapters 11-16 FOCUS ACTIVITY What are some reasons why a person might be rejected by others? Quickwrite Describe on paper a situation in which a person might feel he or she has been repeatedly rejected by others. What emotional response might the person have?
Literary term: Tragedy There are many definitions of tragedy. In literature, a tragedy is a story that ends in the downfall of its main character and arouses pity or fear in the reader. In general, tragedy also expresses a tragic view of lifethe idea that a noble person inevitably brings on his or her suffering or death through some failure or error. As you continue to read Frankenstein, think about whether the novel fits this definition of a tragedy. Background information The Fallen Angel Do these words sound familiar? Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay / To mold me man? Did I solicit
thee / From darkness to promote me? This quotation appears on the title page of Mary Shelleys Frankenstein. It could have been spoken by Frankensteins creature. In fact, the words come from John Miltons poem Paradise Lost (1667) and are spoken by the character of Adam. This book-length poem is a retelling of the story of Adam and Eve from the Bible. An equally prominent character in the poem is Satan, the lord of evil. Milton depicts Satan as the chief angel of heaven who rebels against God and is cast into hell. To avenge himself, he tempts Adam and Eve to disobey God in the Garden of Eden. Near the end of Chapter 10 of Frankenstein, the creature confronts his creator. He compares himself not only to Adam but to the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. In Chapters 11 through 16, Shelley expands on this allusion to
Active Reading Chapters 11-16 Vocabulary conjecture v. to guess using the available evidence disconsolate adj. unable to be cheered up enigmatic adj. puzzling flagrant adj. highly offensive pensive [adj. deeply or dreamily thoughtful venerable adj. worthy of respect or reverence vengeance n.
punishment inflicted in return for a wrong wantonly adv. maliciously; without restraint In this section, the creature recounts what has happened in his life since Frankenstein abandoned him. Use the chart below to record the main experiences in the creatures life as well as his thoughts and feelings about those experiences. Experiences Thoughts and Feelings Discovers his senses; finds fire and food;
observes the moon Feels joy in discovering nature Personal Response 1. What questions would you like to ask the creature? 2. How does the creature get to know the family who lives in the cottage? Why is he drawn to the family? How does the familys reaction to the creature affect his view of himself and the human race? 3. After reading Paradise Lost, why does the creature think he is like Adam in that book? Why does he think he is like Satan? What are the specific reasons that the creature gives for hating his creator? 4. How does the creature cause the deaths of William and Justine? What does the murder of William tell the creature about himself? According to the creature, what can save him from doing evil? 5. Thus far, do you find the creature more or less sympathetic than the character of Victor Frankenstein? Explain. 6. How believable is the account of the creatures education? Refer to the
novel and your own experience in your answer. Chapters 17-21 FOCUS ACTIVITY Why is it important to love and be loved? Think-Pair-Share On a sheet of paper, write three reasons why companionship or love is an important part of the human experience. Then meet with another student and read your ideas aloud. Discuss, blend, and adjust your lists to come up with three reasons that you both agree on. Literary term: Foreshadowing Did You Know? Tales of horror create suspense by raising questions or uncertainties about the action in the readers mind. Sometimes we dont know what will happen. As we read, we
wonder who or what is responsible for the events that take place, or we wonder how the events came about. In other cases, the tragic outcome is known or strongly hinted at the beginning of the story. As we read, the suspense comes from anticipating when the worst will occur or wondering if it can be prevented. Authors often increase the readers feeling of fear or dread through foreshadowing. They give hints that suggest or prepare the reader for a later event. Such hints, or foreshadowing, might take the form of a statement by a character, a mood established in the description of the setting, or the revelation of an important trait in one of the characters. Tracing main events Vocabulary base adj. mean-spirited inexorable adj. unyielding insurmountable adj. impossible to overcome
irksome adj. annoying listless adj. lacking energy malicious adj. deliberately harmful torpor n. state of inactivity or apathy traverse v. to travel across climax Frankenstein agrees to create a companion for his creature
Chapters 17-21 Personal response 1. Which of the events in this section of the novel surprised you the most and why? 2. What arguments does the creature use to persuade Frankenstein to make the female creature? How does Frankensteins decision affect Frankensteins mood and personal life? 3. What keeps Frankenstein from completing the second creature? In your opinion, why does the creature direct his revenge to Frankensteins wedding? 4. How does Frankenstein become lost at sea? What happens when he lands in Ireland? Why does he call himself Henry Clervals murderer? 5. How does Shelley create a feeling of suspense in Chapters 17 through 21? Did you find the events in Chapter 21 probable or improbable? Explain. Writing task: Explanation for creating
companion The Second Time Around Imagine that Victor Frankenstein has decided to write a letter to Elizabeth or his father that describes his thoughts about creating another creature. Take on the role of Frankenstein as you write a letter of explanation. You may want to compare Frankensteins creation of the second creature to his creation of the first one. Does he have the same motives or different ones? Do you think his attitude toward such ambitious projects has changed? Chapters 22-24 BACKGROUND-Dramatic productions Five years after Frankenstein was published, Mary Shelley saw the first dramatic production of her novel. She liked the actors portrayal of her creature. How well she might like the hundreds of interpretations since is interesting speculation. In the 1931 film Frankenstein, starring
English actor Boris Karloff, the monster comes to life on an operating table after being zapped with electricity. Given a huge, squared-off skull and pale corpse-like skin, Karloff portrayed the monster as a gentle, almost childlike character. His interpretation struck a chord with audiences, especially young children, from whom he received much fan mail. In the 1995 film version of the novel, Mary Shelleys Frankenstein, Robert De Niro, an actor known for his violent tough-guy roles, was cast as the creature. The director, Kenneth Branagh, explained, I wanted a wise and intelligent and multifaceted Creature who could be angry and even funny at times, and who would have a sense of humor, however darkly ironic. To develop the physical appearance of the creature, make-up artists did research in books from the early 1800s on surgery, skin disorders, and embalming. They wanted to find out what Frankenstein would have been able to achieve using the techniques and knowledge available at the time. The result is a Literary term: Doppelganger Many people who have not read Shelleys novel think
that Frankenstein is the name of the creature, not the scientist who brought him to life. Careful readers of the novel, however, point out that this mistake has a certain symbolic truth. They see the two characters as doubles of each other, or two parts of a divided self. The idea of the double comes from German folklore and is known as the doppelgnger (double goer). The concept was based on the ancient belief that each living creature has an exact double who exists as a spirit or ghost. Many writers of horror stories have employed the idea of the double. For example, in Robert Louis Stevensons novella of double identity, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a respectable doctor becomes a murderous stalker Using Evidence Vocabulary In the final chapters of the novel, Victor Frankenstein and his creature are involved in a
mad contest of revenge. In the chart below, record at least four statements made by each character that reveal his motives, feelings, or state of mind. Note the chapter number after Frankenstein each statement. adversary n. enemy; opponent consternation n. state of confusion Human beings, their feelings and illustrious adj. very passions, would indeed be degraded if such a wretch as I felt pride. (Chapter distinguished 22) omnipotent adj. allpowerful pilgrimage n. long journey for a spiritual
purpose Chapters 22-24 Personal response 1. Did the ending of the novel surprise you? Can you imagine a different ending to the novel? Explain. 2. What does Frankenstein promise to tell Elizabeth after they are married? How does he behave in the weeks leading up to their wedding? Why is Frankenstein especially agitated as evening approaches on their wedding day? 3. What happens to Elizabeth? What is ironic, or unexpected, about the creatures revenge on Frankenstein? What does Frankenstein resolve to do? 4. How does Shelley show that Frankenstein and the creature are both obsessed with revenge? Does either of them win? Explain. 5. How does Shelley return to her frame story in Chapter 24? What effect does she achieve by using this frame story? 6. How do you think Frankenstein failed or erred as a human being? What traits or attributes, do you think, led to the creatures fate?
Writing task On board Waltons ship, the creature sees his creator for the last time. If they had had a chance to talk at this point, what might they say to each other at the end of their long chase? Write a dialogue that reveals each characters feelings about the other and about himself. You may wish to incorporate or paraphrase quotations from the novel. Make sure your dialogue accurately conveys the characters attitudes, feelings, and insights. After you have written your dialogue, ask two other students to read it aloud and offer comments. Literary term: Theme The theme of a novel is the main idea, moral, or message that sticks with the reader long after reading the book. Themes often explore timeless and universal ideas and are almost always implied rather than stated explicitly. ?
What are the ideas, messages or morals of Frankenstein? Themes in Frankenstein Responsibilit y Family Justice Themes Secrec y Knowledg e and discovery
Isolation Prejudice Finding evidence Look for evidence in the novel supporting these points: 1. Waltons desire for a friend establishes a major thematic meditation of the text: that being alone in the world creates the desire to have a circle of family and friends. This desire of Waltons mirrors the later desire of the monster to have a companion. (Letter 2) 2. Although Elizabeth is welcomed into Victors full, happy family, her status as an orphan reminds us that family that can be destroyed at any moment. The threat of being alone is always present. (Chapter 1) 3. Victor establishes his family as a happy one, and his parents as the bringers of "many delights." Victor knows what a blessing it is to have your creators care about you, yet this knowledge
does not compel him to do the same for the creature to whom he gives life. (Chapter 2) Continued... 1. The loss of Victors mother serves as an omen of the loss he is going to encounter again and again as the story progresses. At the same time, her death establishes that family is what is most dear to Victor, what he most sorely does not want to lose. (Chapter 3) 2. Loss haunts Victor from a very early point in the book: his mothers death is an "irreparable evil" from which all future evil and loneliness spring. (Chapter 3) 3. The monster longs for companionship with the family he observes, but he cannot engage with them because he is unacceptable to society. Instead, he must remain entirely alone. (Chapter 12) Continued... 1. The monster refers to the family as "my" cottagers, implying
his sense of connection to these people and his desire to be included in their family. Despite this, he knows he suffers the "fatal effects of this miserable deformity" and will be kept separate from them. (Chapter 12) 2. The monsters desire for love and familial affection makes him a deeply human and sympathetic character. Yet it also drives him to commit his immoral acts. (Chapter 12) 3. The monsters desire for a female companion parallels Adams asking God for a woman. (Chapter 17) 4. As the monster learns about the world and becomes educated, he realizes he is utterly alone and alienated from society. He has no "mutual bonds" to anyone except Victor, who has rejected him. (Chapter 13) CLOSING ARGUMENTS SPEECHES Take the role of an attorney presenting his/her closing arguments at the end of a criminal trial. In this case either Victor Frankenstein or his creature is on trial. The crime can
be varied: playing God, blind ambition, desertion, cruelty, or murder. Choose whether to defend or prosecute the character. To prepare your case, list all the possible arguments from both sides. For example, if you plan to defend Victor Frankenstein, list not only all the arguments you plan to use but also as many arguments as you can think of that will be used by the prosecution. Then, youll list possible responses to the oppositions points. In this way, not only do you consider both points of view but you will also illustrate your skills in persuasive writing and speaking. Try to use your own opinion but cite the novel whenever possible.
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