Teaching Students About Frankenstein, the Monster
When introducing the iconic novel “Frankenstein” to students, it’s essential to emphasize the underlying themes and complex cultural implications within Mary Shelley’s masterpiece. This article will outline an approach to teaching students about the Frankenstein Monster, examining the character’s origins and motives, psychological aspects, and societal impact. By doing so, we can help young readers appreciate the timeless relevance and lessons found in this literary gem.
1. Background: Mary Shelley and the Birth of Frankenstein
Start by explaining that Mary Shelley was an English writer who published her best-known work “Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus” in 1818 when she was only 20 years old. Discuss how she wrote this classic novel during a time when Romanticism emerged as a literary movement and science was rapidly progressing. Address Shelley’s inspiration prompted by a challenge to write a horror story during a gloomy summer at Lake Geneva with her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and other friends.
2. The Origins of the Frankenstein Monster
Introduce the plot of “Frankenstein” by presenting the character Victor Frankenstein, an idealistic scientist captivated by reanimating lifeless matter. Elaborate on his experiment and creation of the Monster—an unknown combination of human body parts brought to life using scientific processes—which eventually escapes into society.
3. Breaking Stereotypes: Dispelling Common Misconceptions
Explain how popular culture often inaccurately represents the Frankenstein Monster as a green-skinned, mindless beast with bolts in its neck. Contrast this image with Shelley’s portrayal of the creature as an eloquent being, capable of learning and expressing himself.
4. The Creature’s Motivation, Isolation, and Tragic Nature
Delve into the Monster’s psyche by discussing his unfulfilled desires for companionship and understanding. Explore the Creature’s abandonment by Victor, leading him to embark on a journey of self-discovery, including learning to read and interact with humans—only to be constantly rejected. Engage students in a conversation about how such rejection and isolation shaped the Monster’s darker impulses, ultimately triggering bouts of vengeance against his creator.
5. Analyzing Key Themes: Nature vs. Nurture, Responsibility, and Humanity
Challenge students to examine the novel’s overarching themes, such as the dichotomy between nature and nurture, the consequences of playing God, and the definition of humanity. Students can reflect upon these concepts by discussing how characters like Victor Frankenstein and his Monster grapple with their actions’ consequences or adjust their understanding of what it means to be human.
To teach students about the Frankenstein Monster effectively, educators must go beyond pop culture conventions and focus on the complexity of Shelley’s creation. Doing so will reveal not only an intriguing character study but also a rich tale that allows young readers to explore themes about individuality, compassion, and human ambition that resonate even today.