Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: Book Club, Study and Essay Topics
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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: Book Club, Study and Essay Topics

Topics for essays and discussion with links to character and plot summary of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus.

Topic for discussion or Essays of Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus

Compare and contrast Robert Walton and Victor Frankenstein in the opening of the story and at the end of the story. How are their attitudes similar and how do their attitudes change at the end of the story?

Why is Frankenstein alarmed when Robert Walton expresses his ambitions?

The subtitle of Frankenstein is The Modern Prometheus; to whom was Shelley referring? How does Prometheus compare and contrast to the character to whom Shelley was referring. What was the fate of Prometheus?

What were the prevalent attitudes in England in the early 19th century? Do you believe that Shelley’s novel was a reflection of those attitudes?

There are clear biblical themes throughout the story. Give examples. How does Shelley use them. Does Victor Frankenstein have any reverence for God? Does he believe in God?

Is this book metaphorical? Explain.

Is this book an allegory? Explain.

What qualities of character does Victor Frankenstein have? Is he noble? A coward? Wise? Foolish?

What is Victor Frankenstein’s attitude toward life and death?

What does the monster want?

Is he justified in his revenge?

Is he inherently evil or does he become evil?

The title page contains a quote from Paradise Lost. How does this passage reflect the monster’s comprehensive world view, emotions, outlook and perceptions?

The three books that the monster found and read were Milton’s Paradise Lost, a volume of Plutarch’s Lives and Goeth’s The Sorrows of Werter. Why did Mary Shelley choose these?

What books would you have chosen and what would you anticipate the affect those books would have had on the monster’s outlook?

Did the monster develop a comprehensive world view? If so, describe it.

Did the monster have a soul?

Do all dogs go to heaven? (ok - that’s not a real question)

What is the monster’s primary complaint against Frankenstein?

What rights does the monster perceive he is due?

Did the monster receive justice?

Did Victor Frankenstein rightly suffer the consequences of his actions? Did he have the power to change things? At what point could he have or should he have taken a different path?

What are some contemporary bioethical issues in the news that might be relevant to discussions of the themes in this book?

What were the main themes in each of the three volumes of Frankenstein?

If you have seen any film adaptations of Frankenstein, how does it compare with the novel? Have you any thoughts on why the filmmaker excluded or included particular events or dialog from the novel?

Read Frankenstein Introduction and Brief Summary

Read Frankenstein Character Summary

Read Volume One Plot Summary

Read Volume Two Plot Summary

Read Volume Three Plot Summary

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Comments (4)

Wow, you really pulled this apart for us.

Thanks Susan! These are thoughts that occured to me as I was reading.

Great questions! I especially like the one about Victor suffering the consequences of his actions. It looks like everyone, guilty and innocent alike, suffered the consequences because Victor released forces that couldn't be controlled.

It speaks to the issue of actions have consequences and other people are affected by your actions. It is like saying that a certain activity is a victimless crime.