Study Guide

Frankenstein

by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein eText - Reading Pointers for Sharper Insights

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Reading Pointers for Sharper Insights

  1. Frankenstein has been interpreted numerous times since its original publication. Most modern representations of Mary Shelley's classic portray the monster as an inarticulate being, incapable of attaining advanced intelligence, and as a symbol of pure, unrepentant evil. Shelley, however, gave the creature the ability to learn, to speak properly with passion, logic, and eloquence, and to know the difference between right and wrong.

  2. To better appreciate Frankenstein, it is important to consider the philosophical beliefs that influenced Mary Shelley's writing:

  3. Understand the ambiguity between good and evil seen in these representations of duality:

    • Shelley sometimes portrays Victor as a God for creating the monster; however, he also views himself as similar to his creation because of his decisions and actions.

    • The monster has a parallel with the biblical Adam because Adam was thrown out of Paradise, just as the monster is cast out of society. In addition, however, the monster is also a satanic representation. Satan, banned from heaven, is determined to get revenge on the God who sent him into exile. Being forced out of society, therefore, causes the monster to seek revenge on his own creator.

  4. Note Shelley's continual use of contrasting elements:

    • isolation/companionship

    • light/dark

    • day/night

    • handsome/ugly

    • male/female

    • science/philosophy

    • knowledge/ignorance