Frankenstein Questions and Answers

Mary Shelley

Read real teacher answers to our most interesting Frankenstein questions.

What is the significance of the books the creature reads?

Another way the theme of language manifests in Frankenstein is through the specific works of literature the monster uses to learn language. The three main books the monster reads are: John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Goethe’s The Sorrows of Werther, and Plutarch’s Lives of Ancient Greeks and Romans. Through these books, he not only learns language, but also specific worldviews. They shape his outlook on death, suicide, civilization, divinity, love, and so many other human things.

What does Prometheus have to do with Frankenstein?

The subtitle of Shelley’s Frankenstein is “The Modern Prometheus.” In Greek myth, Prometheus was the Titan who created humankind and then stole fire from Zeus for his creations. Just as Prometheus did, Victor Frankenstein creates life and then must face the responsibilities of a creator. Zeus ends up punishing Prometheus by chaining him to a rock, where an eagle would peck out his liver every day, only for it to regrow and happen again. His punishment was to suffer for eternity, a fate echoed by Victor’s prolonged suffering.

How does Victor demonstrate obsession?

When Victor is about to bring the creature to life, we can see his thought process immediately leading up to that moment. 

He is very excited about his work, and is literally obsessed by it. Yet, he is isolating himself more and more and even recognizes the "wreck" he has become. He notes his "silence" more than once in regards to his family and friends and describes the "neglect" he has shown his relationships and even his own health. In other words, he has become so obsessed with this project that he has shut everything else out of his life. His relationships are suffering, as are his mental and physical well being. 

All of this is important in helping us to realize two things: he has no one else around telling him that this project might not be a good idea AND we must question his sanity and stability given the way he is describing himself.

Why is the appearance of the creature significant?

Notice the wording that Victor uses when describing the creature just after it has come to life. He is struck by its physical horror, which he apparently did not notice up until this point. He has chosen to patch together the body parts of multiple men in order to create his new "man," but the combination of all these beautiful parts has only made for a monstrous whole. He is so overcome by horror at the ugliness of his creature, and how frightening its appearance is, that he overlooks the fact that he has just accomplished something that no other person ever has, bringing something back from the dead. As a result, Victor considers the entire experiment a dismal failure...based solely on the creature's looks.

Sadly, the physical appearance of the creature makes such a negative first impression that Victor, the very person who put together this body to begin with, wants nothing to do with him and shuns the creature. This reaction is then shared by every other person the creature encounters. They are so frightened by his physical appearance, they do not take the opportunity to get to know him.