by Mary Shelley
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
- Victor doesn't give his monster a name. What does this do for the story? What does it say about us in society today that we think the monster's name is Frankenstein, besides the fact that we're apparently ill-read?
- How is science portrayed in Frankenstein? Consider that this book was written in the midst of vast scientific advances and the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Are we living in a similar period today? What contemporary issues seem based on Frankenstein's-monster-type fears? (Try googling "Frankenfood" for some ideas.)
- At its heart, Frankenstein is interested in the question of nature vs. nurture: are people blank slates that are formed by experiences and environment, or are we born with certain traits—like being evil? What does the book seem to suggest? How do you know?
- The book is called Frankenstein, but a huge chunk of it is told from the point of view of the monster. Who's the real protagonist here? Is Frankenstein right to effectively disown his creation?
- You might have noticed some Christian influences in this text. To start off, there's the creator/creation paradigm. And, of course, the monster is compared to Adam. But the monster is also compared to the fallen angel—Satan—and Victor takes on comparisons to God. You could even go so far as to call Victor's death a sacrifice that makes him a Christ figure. What might Shelley be saying about religion, and Christianity in particular? (Keep in mind that, while we're not sure how Mary Shelley felt about religion, both her father and husband were big, honking atheists in a time when atheism could get you into serious trouble.)
- Victor claims that he breaks his promise to create him a companion because he doesn't trust the monster. Is the monster trustworthy? Can Victor be trustworthy even though he broke his promise?
- If we can't trust appearances, what can we trust? Words can be misinterpreted; actions can be understood. Is there any way to truly understand another person in Frankenstein?
- Shelley emphasizes the importance of family and suggests that the monster would have turned out differently if he'd had people around him who loved and understood him. But the rest of the world would still have hated and feared him. Would a loving family really have prevented tragedy?
- What's the point of the frame narrative? Why do we begin and end with Robert Walton? Does he learn a lesson from his encounter with Frankenstein? If so, what is it?
People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...