Followup & Resources: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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The following notes and resources are from a previously-held, exclusive Professional Learning Community session. All names and recordings have been removed for privacy reasons. To view the PLC's full length works guide, click here.

Thank you for attending last night's meeting! If you couldn't make it or would like to review the session, you can view the slide deck here.

Why Frankenstein

  • CB Connections: Frankenstein is referenced a lot in the Exam (especially in Q3)
    • CED references it directly as one of the full-length works when it gives examples of skill-based lessons/activities.
  • The triple narrative structure works for post-read work.
  • Rigor and psychometrics of the piece as a 19th century piece
  • Frankenstein is the most common novel on college syllabi according to Open Syllabus.
    • Gives students a leg up in college, especially since not all students will be exempt from college lit classes
  • Early sci-fi & spec fiction piece: Engages students, especially in college because there's a variety of majors taking these courses including STEM.

Connections in Literature

  • Stiff by Mary Roach: Specifically "The Curious Lives of Cadavers" chapter is good for pairing and putting in historical context
  • Making the Monster by Harkup
  • The Science of Life and Death in Frankenstein by Ruston
  • The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes
  • Klara and the Sun by Kazua Ishiguro
  • "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" by Brian Aldiss, which became the basis for the Spielberg/Kubrick film AI (Artificial Intelligence) and deals with themes of "what is the creator's ethical obligation to their creation"

Additional Activities

  • Cross Curriculum teaching with science and the Bodies Exhibit that travels all around the country.
  • Hexagonal thinking to set up literary arguments.
  • Use Fever Chart (or a Sympathy Chart) as an activity for students to track their feelings. In the classroom, we use graph paper and students track how they feel about the Creature and Frankenstein throughout the text, allowing them to see changes depending on who is narrating. Here is an example of a virtual one on JamBoard.


  • Nature in Frankenstein and elements of Romanticism: The restorative nature it has on Victor as well as the dark side of nature that coincides with violence and death. 
  • Passing reference: Passing goes beyond race
  • Imposter syndrome—Victor's and maybe Mary Shelley's.

Teaching Frankenstein/Close Reading
For background information before you start reading, you can use articles from Newsela and CommonLit. Here's a folder of compiled resources. 

  • Remind your students about complexity!
    • You should remind them that to be human means to be complex.
    • The complexity of the characters and their situations can also help with developing sophistication. Complex is great because it reminds them not to have a ‘one note’ response. They need to ARGUE.
  • Classroom suggestion: In addressing a passage as complex, there is an opportunity to encourage students to interact with text. Have them identify moments where there are shifts in areas like tone and being able to explain how they come to recognize it.

PLC FRQ Analysis Activity on paragraphs 107-109

  • Literary strategies: Hyperbole, Irony, First person
  • Defensive tone: He feels the need to remind the audience that he's truly NOT a madman after asserting that he "alone should be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret." He's so extraordinary that he even astonishes himself which is later followed by "delight and rapture."
  • The foreshadowing of the diction in "decay and corruption" is also significant, and reflects the marriage of the mental, emotional, and physical ramifications of the discovery.
  • Antithesis/Paradox of Life & Death
    • In order to learn about death, he has to learn about life. Vice versa. Adds to the complexity of the piece.
    • I think it's how we also experience a fascination with death. Fascination with life doesn't strike us as unusual or bothersome, but we feel a sense of cognitive dissonance when someone experiences "delight and rapture" at death (especially if we're the ones to experience it ourselves). It's an ironic juxtaposition.
    • Even without the terminology, students could discuss “tensions”
  • Justification of his past and future actions in this passage.
  • It reminds me of working with students in AP Lang. There tends to be that necessity to move them away from treasure hunting for "devices."  I'm thinking about some of my students...starting with identifying main ideas in each paragraph...what does it reflect in terms of do you reach that conclusion.  Moving them away from naming a device and then saying it is seen in lines...
  • Classroom suggestion: Ask your students how often he refers to himself. How many "I's" can we count (and in such close succession in this passage...)?How would you describe someone who seems so interested in himself? As far as his attitude, he seems prideful and shocked
    • When he talks about the "wisest men since the creation of the world was now within my grasp." I almost wonder if Frankenstein was grappling with a God complex? Especially with his demeanor, social interaction, and choices.

Classroom suggestion: Divide the class into 5 groups and assign each group one of the first five AP Literature big ideas. Literary argument is not one of the groups because everyone needs to do/practice literary argument.