Whether you consider yourself a Frankenstein expert, or someone who is a bit taken back by the density of the novel and Shelley’s writing, do not fret! Below I will outline 3 tips which, will hopefully give you a clearer perspective on how to approach writing on Frankenstein! Let’s get started!
1. ALWAYS TRY TO TALK ABOUT SHELLEY’S CONCERNS
Since the book was set during the Age of Enlightenment and the Romantic era, Shelley essentially used Frankenstein as a vessel to criticise and warn readers against many of the values upheld during her era. It’s therefore crucial that you address this!
The late 18th century and the first decades of the 19th century were exciting times for science and exploration. Shelley’s two main protagonists, Walton and Frankenstein, both passionately sough to discover what had previously been hidden. Walton wanted to be the first to find a passage through the Arctic Circle; Frankenstein wanted to be the first to create manmade life, to uncover the mysteries of Nature. Both men claimed to be desirous of benefitting humankind but both wanted glory more. This obsession to win accolades for their discoveries will destroy Victor, and turn Walton for a while into a hard taskmaster over his crew.
Juxtaposed against these two characters is Henry Clerval. Clerval, too, has an inquiring mind but he also cares about humanity, family and friends. He represents the balanced human being who is sociable, compassionate, intelligent and loyal to his friends. Victor’s ability to reanimate the dead, to bring to life his gigantic Creature using the newly discovered electricity, makes him a genius but also a monster. In his inexperience he botches the work producing a hideous and terrifying creature with, ironically, initially all the virtues of the ideal man of he world. Repulsed by his amateurish handiwork, Victor abandons his creation, setting in place the vengeance that will unfold later.
Try to ground any response to Shelley’s text in the enormous enthusiasm for new discoveries and new geographic phenomena that attracted lavish praise for those who went where others feared to tread. It was this praise that drove Walton and Frankenstein to exceed reasonable expectations becoming reckless and careless of the consequences of their actions.
2. ALWAYS TRY TO DRAWS LINKS AND CONTRAST DIFFERENT CHARACTERS AND THEMES!
Walton, Frankenstein and the Creature are interconnected in so many ways – whether it be their isolation, ambition, desire for companionship, desire for vengeance or the Romantic values they share. I’ve also noted that it is also really easy to connect themes in Frankenstein as the tragic story-arc of the novel is built upon many different causes. What I mean by this is that there is a clearly define relationship between isolation, ambition and vengeance (and ultimately tragedy) in the sense that isolation is what led to the brewing of unchecked ambition which essentially causes the resultant tragedy.
Take Frankenstein for example: having left his loving family and friends, who provided him with love and companionship for Ingolstadt, there was no one to hold him back from his natural tendencies towards unchecked ambitions, leading him to creating the monster who out of spite towards society kills all of Frankenstein’s loved ones, leading them towards the desire for mutual destruction. Being able to see these links and draw them together will not only add depth to your writing but it also arms you with the ability to be able to deal with a wider array of prompts.
3. ALWAYS TRY TO LOOK FOR MORE NUANCED EXAMPLES AND DISCUSSIONS!
While Walton, Frankenstein and the Creature can be discussed incredibly thoroughly (and by all means go ahead and do it), but it is also very important to consider the novel as a whole and talk about, if not more thoroughly, on the minor characters. While characters such as the De Laceys, villagers and the rustic in the forest can be used to highlight the injustices brought upon the creature and people’s natural instincts of self preservation and prejudice, innocent characters such as Elizabeth and Justine can be used to emphasise the injustice of society and the consequences of unchecked ambition and isolation.
Henry Clerval (like previously mentioned) can be contrasted against Walton and his best friend Frankenstein to show that as long as we have a balanced lifestyle and companionship, ambition will not lead us to ruin. Characters such as the Turkish merchant can also have parallels drawn with Frankenstein in telling how our selfish desire and actions, born out of inconsideration for their consequences, can backfire with great intensity. Lastly the character of Safie (someone I used a lot in my discussions) can be compared and contrasted with the Creature to show the different treatment they receive despite both being “outsiders” to the De Laceys due to their starkly different appearances.
Mentioning these characters and utilising these contrasts can be monumental in showing your understanding of the novel and by extension, your English analytical ability.
Hey guys, I'm Lisa, welcome back to Lisa's Study Guides. Today, we're going to be talking about Frankenstein and breaking down an essay topic for it. So in the past, I've done plenty of videos looking at different types of essay topics and breaking them down by looking at keywords and then going into the body paragraphs and looking at those ideas. This time round, the takeaway message that I want you to leave with is understanding what types of evidence you should be using inside your body paragraphs. Specifically, I wanted to talk about literary devices or metalanguage. Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein uses so many literary devices that it's impossible to ignore. If you are somebody who is studying this text or other texts that you use and are heavily embedded with literary techniques, then it's really important that you don't just use dialogue as part of your quotes, but actually reading between the lines. I'll teach you on how it's not just about finding dialogue, which you include as quotes inside your body paragraphs, but reading between the lines, so looking at literary devices like metaphors, symbols, imagery, so let's get started.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein constitutes escaping critique of the prioritization of scientific advancement over human welfare and relationship. Dr. Frankenstein is fascinated with science and discovery, he is consumed with the idea of a new and more noble race by stitching up dead body parts from a cemetery. He feverishly works away at his experiment until one day the creature is born. Frankenstein is horrified at the living thing he has made and completely rejects the creature, leaving it without a parental figure. The creature is left alone to look after himself. He educates himself and on repeated occasions tries to approach people in society, however, is rejected every time because of his monstrous appearance. As a result, the creature becomes enraged at humanity and Frankenstein's unfair treatment towards him and consequently exacts revenge on Frankenstein and his family.
The essay topic we'll be looking at today is, Our sympathies in this novel ultimately lie with the creature. Discuss. So in previous videos, we've looked at keywords, how to identify them and how to define them. Since it's pretty straightforward for this essay topic, I thought I would skip that part and then go into the more nitty gritty with the body paragraphs. But, if you are unfamiliar with these steps, then I'll link them in the card above and also in the description below so you can have a look at how I went ahead and did the keyword section in my planning, now back to the prompt. Unequivocally within Frankenstein, Shelley portrays sympathy as spread throughout the text through depicting the creature as innately human through his desire for relationship and the challenges he faces at the hands of the prejudice enlightenment society he's born into, Shelley elicits sympathy for his situation. However, through the notable absence of the female gender throughout the text, Shelley portrays those silent within society as most deserving of sympathy.
So, with this in mind, here are the potential paragraphs in response to this prompt. Paragraph one, Shelley's depiction of the creature as innately human motivates support for his challenges at the hands of a prejudice society. The action of the creature to open his dull yellow eye, symbolic of his nature as a human being alongside a green wrinkled on his cheeks, with one hand stretched out, indicates his simple desire for paternal connection. Through constructing the creature's actions as innately human Shelley acts proleptically of the inequitable experiences the creature will experience throughout the structural architecture of the text. And through doing so, depicts his character as worthy of support.
Similarly, through the metaphor of fire, Shelley explores the duality of progress and innovation of which the creature desires. The fire, one that gives light as well as heat, yet also causes a cry of pain, indicates the hardships of the creature in his isolation, whereby, his forced to withdraw from his desire for education. Upon viewing himself in a pool, the creature becomes "fully convinced that I was in reality [a] monster" with the consequent sensations of despondency and mortification granting the reader the opportunity to sympathize with the creature in order to indicate the intensely negative social prejudices that are inflicted upon the creature.
So you can see that we've looked at symbols of the creature's nature and the metaphor of fire to support our topic sentence. Using literary techniques is what's going to make the difference between you and another student who might be saying the same thing. Why? Because when you look at literary devices, it means that you're reading just beyond the lines, just beyond what's in front of you. You're now introducing your own interpretation, so you're looking at fire and thinking about what that means in connection to the text, and why Mary Shelley would use the term of a fire and revolve her discussion around that. So let's see how we keep doing this in the next body paragraph.
Paragraph two, Shelley indicates the significance of relationships as a key element of human nature that the creature is denied, motivating affinity from readers. In replacement of human relationships, the creature rather seeks comfort within the natural world. The metaphorical huge cloak that the creature takes refuge within indicates this, illustrative of an ecosystem, the forest allows the creator to surround himself with life. The subsequent attempts to "imitate the pleasant songs of the birds" reveals the desperate urge of the creature for companionship as he is abandoned by the paternal relationship represented by Victor Frankenstein, which forms a core of human relationships. Again, here we've discussed the metaphorical huge cloak and its connection with the forest, I strongly encourage you to have the goal of discussing at least one literary device per body paragraph. And no, there is no such thing as talking about too many literary devices because it's really just about whether or not your argument is concise and whether or not you're backing that up with evidence.
Paragraph three. However, it is Shelley's depiction of the submissive female sex within Frankenstein that becomes most deserving of sympathy. Each female character is characterized as passive, disposable, and they're serving a utilitarian function, namely as a channel of action for the male characters within the text. Notably, the complete lack of absence of Margaret Saville, functioning only as an audience for Walton's letters exemplifies this. Margaret's role within the text is simply to enable Walton to relay the story of Frankenstein and as such were the most necessary character of the texts whilst the most distant. This ironic dichotomy enables Shelley to exemplify the difficult role of the female within society, arising sympathy from the readership. Here, even the purposeful emission of a character is discussed as a language technique. So, this type of literary device definitely tops the cake because you're literally looking at what's not even there. That's definitely reading between the lines.
Frankenstein is a very complex novel, and sometimes that's what makes it a difficult text to study. But, it lends itself to many unique interpretations and it's heavily dressed with heaps of literary devices or metalanguage, however you want to call it. So, that's what makes it an absolutely fantastic text for high school students to study. If you wanted to find out more on how to nail a Frankenstein essay, then I'll link you to my blog just down below, because there are definitely more tips there to help you excel in this particular text. Thank you so much for watching, and especially even if you're not studying this text, I hope you've been able to take something away from this video. And I'm confident that you have because talking about literary devices is definitely a topic that isn't necessarily the fore front of discussion in classrooms, and it's something that a lot of people struggle with. So, I hope you are able to walk away with a new goal in sight in order to improve your English essays. So, I will see you guys next time, thank you so much for joining me, see you guys soon. Bye!