Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (in 4 classes)

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Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (in 4 classes)

Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, and it was published anonymously in 1818 with the subtitle A Modern Prometheus. It captures much of the spirit of the age when inventions and discoveries were opening up whole new fields of scientific understanding, and as literature, it is one of the first science fiction novels. The story itself, though, is a far different one than the narrative of the monster that has become so much a part of our popular culture.
The text you will read is a combination of summaries of the chapters of the novel, together with strategic full chapters to give you a sense of Shelley’s writing style. During each class, you are expected to complete the reading and questions found below. If you finish early, you are welcome to work ahead, and any work not completed in class must be finished as homework. All responses to questions must have full sentences or paragraphs that include a summary of the question.

Class One.

  1. Read the summaries of the four letters found on pages 1-2. What elements of Walton’s story might serve as foreshadowing of the story of Victor Frankenstein and the monster he creates?

  2. Read the summaries of chapters 1-3 and then the full text of chapter 4, found on pages 2-11. As you read chapter 4, make point-form notes regarding the most important parts of the plot.

  3. At home, choose the five most important points of the plot and type up a ½ - ¾ page chapter summary to hand in at the beginning of Class # 2 for a grade.

This summary should:

If you are asked to weave a quote into your answer, remember to use quotation marks and end with the page reference.
i.e. At the end of Chapter 16, the monster demands that Victor create a female companion for him, saying “This being you must create” (page 31).
Remember that the end punctuation goes after the page reference.

Class Two

Remember to write one paragraph for each question. Start with a topic sentence, and weave one or two quotes into each answer to support your point.

  1. Read the full text of chapter 5, as found on pages 11-17. Describe Victor’s response to the creature he made, and the effects this response has on his health.

  2. Read the summaries of chapters 6-10, on pages 17-19. Explain why Victor feels guilty for the events that happen to Justine and William.

  3. Read the summaries of chapter 11-15, pages 19-23. As the monster recounts his story, the reader discovers aspects of his character. How would you describe the character of the monster?

Class Three

  1. Read the full text of chapter 16, pages 23-31. Use the monster’s own words from this chapter to explain the demand that he makes of Victor.

  2. Read the summaries of chapters 17-19, pages 32-33. Write a short comment on the roles the Henry and Elizabeth play in this story.

  3. Read the full text of chapter 20, pages 33-42. What motivates Victor to take the extreme action that he does on page 34? Support your answer with a quote. How do you think the monster will react? How does the monster, in fact, react?

Class Four

  1. Read the summaries of chapters 21-22, and the full text of Chapter 23, pages 42-50. At the end of chapter 23 do you believe that Victor’s sorrow is ultimately his own fault? Why or why not?

  2. Read the full text of chapter 24, pages 51-58. How is this entire chapter the playing out of the oath Victor makes on page 52?

  3. Read page 59. Why do you think Mary Shelley chose to end the story in Walton’s voice, not Victor’s?

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