Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Humanities 221 Professor Easton
(page #s refer to the Signet Edition)
1. In Shelley's introduction, she explains that she wrote Frankenstein in response to Lord Byron's proposal that the group of writers each write a ghost story (ix). Citing three specific examples, explain how well you believe Frankenstein fits the "ghost story" genre. Why or why not?
2. What happens to you as a reader in moving between the prefaces (at least the first one) and the first letter of the novel? The preface prepares you for horror. What does Walton's opening letter deliver?
3. What "Romantic" language does Victor use to describe his obsession with science and alchemy? (Ch. 2, 36-41).
4. How does Victor explain why he created a "new species" that was so much larger than human beings? (52)
5. Read the opening of Ch. 5 carefully. How is this like a "birth" scene?
6. Why does Henry Clerval stand in contrast to Victor? (59, 67, and throughout)
7. What is "Romantic" about the description of little William's death? (71-74)
8. Why is Justine convicted of the murder? (Ch. 8) Does she have a "Romantic" attitude toward death?
9. What is comforting about the scenery surrounding Victor in Geneva (90-94). How is it "Romantic"?
10. Is it ironic that it is the creature who tells Victor to "Be calm"? (Ch. 10, 95). What was the creature's "nature" before he turned malicious?
11. Ch. 11 describes the "infantile" learning and language acquisition of the creature. How well does it parallel the way children learn? How does it differ?
12. Why is it possible for us to believe that the creature has a natural sense of "goodness"? (Ch. 12)
13. The De Lacey family (Ch. 14), observed by the creature, is impoverished by imprisonment and exile after risking their fortunes to save Safie's father. Safie's father, a Turkish merchant, was wrongly imprisoned in Paris because of ethnic prejudices, and Felix De Lacey effected his escape because he despised the injustice of the imprisonment, and because he wished to marry Safie, the promised "reward." Afraid of his daughter marrying outside of Islam (though her own mother was a Christian), Safie's father doesn't allow her to join Felix. He escapes, but the De Lacey father and sister face a trial of treason for helping the "criminal" get away. When the creature discovers them, and when Safie catches up with them, they are living in exile in Germany. Why do we learn so much about them? How is their story like the creature's?
14. What makes the creature hate himself? What makes him kill?
15. What are the ethical problems attached to the creature's request for a mate? (Ch. 17, 139)
16. Why is Victor's work in Scotland so much more abhorrent than his initial creation of the creature?
17. Angrily, the creature tells Victor, "I shall be with you on your wedding night" (161, 182, 187) What does Victor's interpretation of this statement tell us about Victor?
18. How does Victor respond to the death of Clerval? What makes Victor abhor "the face of man"? (Ch. 22, 176)
19. Victor claims that "revenge" kept him alive as he pursued the creature to the frozen north. Likewise, the creature seems to need Victor to chase him, making sure Victor is within sight, leaving him food and supplies, etc. Why do they need each other? (Ch. 24)
20. What responsibility does Walton have to his sailors? (Ch. 24, 202-205)