Frankenstein is the story of a man, Victor Frankenstein, and a monster, who is never given a name. It was written by Mary Shelley, who began creating the tale when she was just 19. Read it online at Literature.org.
Having read and enjoyed the book, choose from the cross-curriculum connections below to explore the issues in it more deeply.
- Advanced classrooms will appreciate the Signet teacher’s guide. It’s a very through discussion of the book as literature, referencing the Romantic period, literary influences in the work, and scientific and philosophical questions raised by the book. There are suggestions for using blogs and chat rooms, too.
- The novel is written from several different points of view. Ask students to rewrite a scene from the point of view of a different character.
- There are a lot of places in this book! See the Google Earth tour linked below to get to know them. Then discuss: why is this so far-reaching a story? Does it improve the book? Is it necessary?
- The story of Frankenstein begins in St. Petersburg, Russia, and continues in Switzerland, France, Germany, England, Scotland, and a whole bunch of other places. Download a Google Earth Tour created by Dana Huff to explore and keep track of the travels of the characters. Huff recommends setting the tour up on a Smartboard, but you could also cue up sections on a classroom projector or set the tour up in your computer center. The tour is long (almost nine minutes if you don’t stop to explore) and there are lots of things to explore along the way, so you might want to use it in parts or let students access it as you read, and then watch it together after finishing the book, in order to get a sense of the whole sweep of the novel.
- Frankenstein is a place in the Rheinland. Visit with Google maps or see a photo of the castle. Castle Frankenstein was the home of an eccentric alchemist, and Victor Frankenstein studies alchemy. There were rumors that the owner of Castle Frankenstein performed experiments with cadavers, as did Victor Frankenstein. some say that Mary Shelley was inspired to write her book by the events at Castle Frankenstein. Have students research the place and find text references in the book to support their claim — either yes, the book was inspired by the place and its history, or no, it was not.
- A fun lesson plan encourages students to create their own paper monster.
- Frankenstein may be better known to your students as a movie than as a book. After reading the book, watch a scene from the film and compare the two. What changes are required when a story is taken from one medium and put into another?
- Frankenstein’s monster loved music. People who are angry, unhappy, and out of control often find that music helps them feel calmer and more in control. Have students choose some music for the monster, play it for the class, and explain why they chose it.
- Frankenstein’s love of science begins with a love of nature and a desire to learn how the world works. Many of your students may have felt the same love and desire. Have students research some heroes of science and discover how this feeling has affected the lives of real people.
- Research alchemy. What were the goals of the alchemists, and how does alchemy differ from chemistry?
- Frankenstein is fascinated by the power of electricity when he sees lightning strike a tree. Just how powerful is lightning? Read about it at National Geographic.
- Captain Walton is engaged on polar exploration. Frankenstein was published in 1818. Create a timeline of polar exploration (or add to your classroom timeline) and place Mary Shelley’s book at the right point. You might like to use Time’s Vintage Polar Expedition Photos collection to illustrate the timeline.
- One of the big ideas in this book is that there are some experiments that shouldn’t be undertaken. Many people today believe this, and there is much controversy about research into subjects like human cloning and stem cell therapies. Experimentation on animals is another controversial topic, as is genetic modification of food-producing plants. Have students collect news stories about scientific controversies and create a bulletin board.
- Frankenstein’s monster yearned for love and companionship. His determination to ruin Victor Frankenstein’s life stemmed from Frankenstein’s refusal to love him or to create another monster for him to love. If Frankenstein had treated the monster differently, or made a bride for him as he asked, might things have turned out differently? Have students write an alternate ending to the story.
- A related question is this: was Victor Frankenstein responsible for the monster in the way that a parent is responsible for a child? Plan a class debate on the question.
- Victor Frankenstein tells his story to Captain Walton in order to warn him against ambition, even the ambition to advance scientific knowledge. Challenge students to consider whether the story of Frankenstein and his monster is about ambition, or hubris, and to write an essay supporting their decision with specific references from the text.
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