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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

This guide was created for English 1302 students.

Monster in adaptation of Frankenstein in 1910Victor Frankenstein - the science student who creates the monster or demon

The Monster - Frankenstein's creation

Robert Walton - an explorer and captain of a ship on an expedition to the Arctic

Elizabeth Lavenza - Victor's fiance; adopted by Victor's parents. Elizabeth was raised as Victor's sister

Henry Clerval - a friend of Victor

The DeLacey Family - the French family the monster observes from his hiding place

This is a list of suggestions for term paper topics. 

  • Physical deformity
  • Ambition
  • Parental love and responsibility
  • Father/son relationship
  • Science and ethics
  • Revenge
  • Social responsibility
  • Good versus evil
  • Obsessive behavior
  • Horror and terror
  • Artificial life
  • Parental neglect
  • Child Abandonment
  • Existence of God
  • Predestination
  • Childhood
  • Alienation and loneliness
  • Nature vs. Nurture
  • Appearances and reality
  • Duty and responsibility
  • Justice vs. Injustice
  • Social isolation
  • Pride
  • Science fiction
  • Compare the novel to Mary Shelley's life
  • Compare characters in the story, e.g. the monster to Victor
  • Character analysis


Britain was in the middle of the Industrial Revolution when Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. New technologies, such as the mechanization of spinning and weaving and improvements in the modes of transportation, led to a shift in the country from being a largely agricultural and commercial society to being the world's first industrial nation.  This transformation fomented economic and political upheaval. Agitation for more rights for workers and women had its onset in this period.  The agrarian Old Guard struggled to maintain its influence while new fortunes were being made in the textile industry.  There was a rapid growth in population.  The number of people in Britain doubled between the first ever census in 1801 and the census of 1851.  The most popular journalist of the day, William Cobbett, spoke out for the workers and attacked landowners and political corruption.  The Romantic poets revolted against the formality of neo-classicism and advocated a return to nature and a world of imagination and unconscious feelings. All of society was influenced by the Napoleonic Wars and the ideas of the French Revolution.

The debate between scientific discoveries and traditional religious and metaphysical thought was starting to take shape, and the ethics of how far man should pursue his desire for knowledge was beginning to be a topic of discussion - a topic still in debate today.

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