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So, you’re going to teach Frankenstein. This classic novel has been a mainstay of English classrooms for generations and remains Mary Shelley’s most iconic work. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time guiding students through Shelley’s novel, this teaching guide will ensure a rewarding experience for everyone—including you. It will expose students to the rhetorical power of literary devices such as allusion, symbolism, point-of-view, and narration. Students can also engage with important themes, such as gender roles and the dangers of ambition. This guide highlights the text's most salient aspects to keep in mind before you begin teaching.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Publication Date: 1818
  • Recommended Grade Level: 9 and up
  • Approximate Word Count: 74,800
  • Author: Mary Shelley
  • Country of Origin: England
  • Genre: Gothic Novel
  • Literary Period: Romantic
  • Conflict: Person vs. Supernatural, Person vs. Self 
  • Narration: First-Person 
  • Setting: Geneva, Switzerland, and the Arctic, late 1700s
  • Structure: Prose, Epistolary 
  • Mood: Dramatic, Anxious, Apprehensive

Texts that Go Well with Frankenstein

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole. This mid 18th-century classic is generally considered the first British Gothic novel. The Castle of Otranto, which follows the story of the lord Manfred in his quest to avoid an ominous family prophecy, features the themes of doomed romance and supernatural terror that we encounter in Frankenstein

Dracula by Bram Stoker. Written exclusively in epistolary form, this late 19th-century Gothic novel features first-person accounts from protagonists who come into contact with a horrific monster. Dracula contains many of the Gothic elements of Frankenstein, including encounters with supernatural beings and dangerous interactions between science and nature. 

The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis. Like Frankenstein, this 1796 novel is a foundational text in the Gothic fiction genre. The Monk depicts a devout monk who sells his soul to Satan in return for powers that make him corrupt and monstrous. 

Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen, was completed in 1803. It satirizes the plot-driven Gothic novels popular in the 1790s. Austen’s heroine becomes so engrossed by Gothic novels (particularly Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho, published in 1794) that she begins to see patterns from them in her own life. Austen’s work emphasizes the restrictions of the contemporary Gothic genre, which relies on archetypal characters and dramatic plots to titillate readers; the genre’s gradual evolution is apparent in the more character-driven and emotionally affecting Frankenstein

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Like Frankenstein, this late 19th-century British novel falls under the Gothic fiction genre. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tells the story of a scientist who creates a monster when he devises a potion to separate the good and evil aspects of himself. The result is the horrifying Mr. Hyde, who quickly causes Dr. Jekyll’s life to spiral out of control. 

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. This mid 19th-century Gothic novel contains many of the features of Frankenstein: taboo subject matter, encounters with supernatural forces, and a dark, mysterious, and passionate Byronic hero.

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Key Plot Points