Major Works Data Sheet - Laurel County Schools

Major Works Data Sheet
Advanced Placement Literature and Composition
Title: Frankenstein
Author: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Date of Publication: 1818
Genre: Romantic/Gothic novel
Historical Information:
Mary Shelley began Frankenstein at the request of
friend Lord Byron. He devised a competition to see
who could write the best horror story. Frankenstein
eventually became a bestseller for Mary Shelley.
Frankenstein still resonates with audiences today.
Shelley’s text reflects the people from the time period
of her day. Written during the Romantic period
(1785-1830), Frankenstein conveys many of the ideas
of the time, such as revolution and rebellion.
Biographical Information about the Author:
Mary Shelley was born on August 30, 1797, in London,
England. She married poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in
1816. Two years later, she published her most famous
novel, Frankenstein. Shelley died of brain cancer on
February 1, 1851, in London, England. She
experienced the death of three of her children. Born in
1819, their son, Percy Florence, was the only child to
live to adulthood. She wrote Frankenstein as a
response to a challenge by Lord Byron and her
husband, Percy Shelley, to think of a horror story.
Whoever wrote the best story would be declared the
Characteristics of the Genre:
-Mary Shelley describes nature with great
embroidering detail and highlights its influence on
humanity through the esteemed Clerval and the
uplifting of the depressed Victor.
-She expresses that humanity is generally good, but
corrupted by society through the creature. He starts out
with benevolence in his heart and helps the destitute
French family, until rejection and being spurned by
humanity causes him to despise their existence.
-She tells the story in a Gothic manner by surrounding
negative events with storms, the night, and
supernatural aspects which darken the atmosphere
during these crucial events. Furthermore the Gothic
element is scene in the torture of Victor and the
creature through dread, hatred, and unobtainable
desires; the unjust deaths of the pure Justine,
Elizabeth, Clerval, William, and Victor’s parents; and
the exile of the French family for nobly aiding the
wrongfully imprisoned Turk, who rewarded them with
trickery and deceit.
Plot Summary:
Victor describes his early life in Geneva, where he talks about his blissful childhood and his friendships
between Henry Clerval and Elizabeth Lavenza. Victor then goes to a university in Ingolstadt to study natural
philosophy and chemistry, where he instead spends years obsessed with these studies and his experiment with
creation. He brings his creation to life one night in his dorm room and his horrified with his results and
becomes ill. He then returns to Geneva but before he leaves he receives a letter from his father informing him of
his brother William’s decease. On his way home he catches sight of the monster and becomes convicted that the
monster is the murderer of his brother. Victor becomes despondent and isolated with guilt that his creation is
the cause of his loved one’s deaths. Hoping to ease his grief, Victor takes a vacation to the mountains. He is
approached by the monster and the monster admits to the murder but begs for understanding. The monster then
begs for Victor to create a companion for him. Victor refuses at first, horrified at the thought of creating
another monster, but the monster convinces Victor to do it. Victor then leaves Geneva and heads out for England
with his friend Henry Clerval to gather information about a female monster. He leaves Henry in Scotland and
secludes himself on a desolate island and works reluctantly at repeating his first success. One night, struck by
doubt and the morality of his actions, Victor glances out the window to see the monster. Horrified by the
consequences of his work, Victor aborts and destroys his experiment. The monster vows revenge and promises to
be with Victor on his wedding night. Later that night, Victor takes a boat out onto the lake and dumps the
remains of his second creature into the water. The wind picks up and prevents him from returning to the island.
In the morning he finds himself in an unknown town and also finds himself being arrested and charged for the
murder discovered the previous night. He denies any knowledge of the murder, but when he is shown the
deceased body of his friend Henry Clerval with traces of the monsters fingers on his neck, he is shocked and
falls ill and is kept in prison until his recovery, after which he is acquitted with his crime. After he returns to
Geneva, he marries Elizabeth. He fears the warning of the monster and fears he will be murdered on his
wedding night. To be cautious, he sends Elizabeth to wait for him and later finds that Elizabeth was murdered
instead of himself. Victor then returns home to his father who dies of grief a short time later. Victor dedicates
the rest of his life to vengeance of his deceased beloved. Victor tracks the monster ever northward into the ice.
Victor almost catches up with the monster but the glacier parts and they are separated from one another. At this
point, Walton encounters Victor who gives him the fourth letter from his sister. Walton tells the remainder of
the story in a series of letters to his sister. Victor worsens and dies shortly thereafter. A few days later, he enters
the room to see lifeless Victor and the monster weeping over his body. The monster tells Walton of his immense
solitude, suffering, hatred, and remorse. He asserts now that his creator has died, and he departs to the
northernmost ice to die.
Describe the Author’s Style:
Provide an example that demonstrates the style:
While writing Frankenstein, Shelley combined the
styles of Romantic and Gothic. Like many Romantic
pieces, Shelley heavily portrayed elements of nature,
freedom, emotion, rebellion, and compassion. Gothic
literature focuses the mysterious and supernatural
with dark surroundings.
On pages 118, 119, and the last half of the finishing
paragraph on 120 there is a great example of just how
Shelley managed to combine the Romantic and Gothic
styles in her own fancy.
Memorable Quotes
Significance of each quote
“After days and nights of incredible The importance of this quote is that it’s the origin of the obstacles in the
labour and fatigue, I succeeded in
novel. This quote of Victor Frankenstein bringing life to his creature
discovering the cause of generation
highlights one of the most important events of the whole novel as well.
and life… I became myself capable
of bestowing animation among
lifeless matter.” (Back Cover,
“I could not sustain the horror of
my situation; and when I perceived
that the popular voice, and the
countenances of the judges, had
already condemned my unhappy
victim, I rushed out of the court in
agony. The tortures of the accused
did not equal mine she was
sustained by innocence, but the
fangs of remorse tore my boson, and
would not forego their hold.” (Page
71, Shelley)
The significance of this is that Frankenstein is really selfish and that he
– even though he is the guilty one – believes that he has it worse than
Justine, who was convicted of a crime that he caused. This shows his
selfishness and even more that he must not be very mature since he
cannot take responsibility for any of his actions. Not only did he fail to
take responsibility for the death of his brother, but he did not take
responsibility in the first place when he just ran off and left his creature
to escape.
“I was moved. I shuddered when I
This quote is very important because it shows that Victor is so scared of
thought of the possible consequences the judgment of his peers that he will not allow Justine to be found
of my consent…” (Page 134, Shelley) innocent of the death of his brother. Instead of actually confessing to the
creation of his monster, he causes Justine to be killed for a crime she did
not commit. (This related to the thematic idea of Judgment VS. Justice.)
Victor Frankenstein
Role in Story
Narrator at points
Creator of The Creature
He plays God and creates
life, and it ends badly for
him showing that creation
is meant for God not man.
She symbolizes what a
women is supposed to be
at that time. She is
passive as she waits for
Victor. Victor’s mother
also wants him and
Elizabeth to marry.
Robert is the first person
we meet he is a sailor who
saves Victor. We learn
about him and Victor
through letters to his
First to be killed by the
monster. Justine is
blamed for his death and
sentenced to death.
The Creature/Monster
Elizabeth Lavenza
Victor’s “cousin”.
Henry Clerval
Robert Walton
The first and last
Alphonse Frankenstein
William Frankenstein
Victor’s brother.
Justine Moritz
Caroline BeaufortFrankenstein
M. Waldman
M. Krempe
Victor’s mother
She adopts Elizabeth and
dies of scarlet fever.
The setting in this novel plays a pretty significant role
such as setting the mood and foreshadowing many
events to come. In the beginning the weather started
out clear but as it entered deeper into Robert Walton’s
journey for knowledge the weather began getting
colder. This is significant because cold and winter is
associated with death and in the novel knowledge is
associated with death which bound the two concepts
together. As the book transitions to Victor’s story the
setting goes from a warm affectionate home to a cold
atmosphere in an isolated place where he completely
shuts himself off to the world which foreshadows
sadness to come. Also another tribute the setting brings
to the meaning of the novel is through comparison.
The only time the novel focuses on the beauty and
wonder of nature is when there is something about to
happen that completely takes away anything that was
once enjoyable. For example, Victor used to enjoy the
landscape of his homeland and on occasion throughout
his misery it still brings joy, although when this
happens some misfortune occurs directly after to take
away any happiness present. The setting also
illustrates the difference between the foil character,
Henry, and victor in which Henry loves nature (which
is all throughout the novel) and admires every aspect
whereas Victor does not.
Significance of Opening Scene
The Opening to the novel Frankenstein is a series of
letters from Robert Walton to his sister Margaret. The
Opening is incredibly significant, not only because it
opens the story but because it gives an actual purpose
to the tale, by giving us a young man, who could easily
throw his life away chasing at nothing, in search of
what may possibly never be found, and enters
Frankenstein a man who knows all too well the
consequences, and that though Walton may find what
he looks for, it may be even more horrible than he
could've ever imagined. It also puts the reader in an
interesting predicament, as it is changing narratives
between Walton's letters and Frankenstein. It tells the
reader that they are hearing the words as Walton is as
well, pulling the reader into the story, giving the
reader as much of a warning as much as Walton.
Frankenstein and his story are, in a way, incredibly
similar to Walton's. The creature can be used to also
signify Walton's desire, his pride to accomplish his
mission, and Frankenstein can be Walton himself.
Frankenstein and his never ending quest to accomplish
the creation of life can be related to Walton and his
almost endless spending to try to make his voyage
possible. Even referencing ways it could go wrong like
the mention of the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem “The
Rhyme of The Ancient Mariner.” The end is all that
could change, and Frankenstein relays his story to
ensure that Walton's tale has a much happier ending.
Significance of Ending or closing scene
The closing scene of Frankenstein, like the book, is
symbolic. It can be said that in Victor’s death, the
creature has no more reason to live, since his creator is
gone and that is all he has ever known. It can also be
seen from a biblical standpoint. In his suicide, the
creature dies to fulfill the wish of Victor – and in the
process, relieves Victor of his sins.
Old AP Questions
Look at question 3 from these exams (if available).
Briefly summarize the content from the questions.
Possible Themes