Approaches to discussing Frankenstein are numerous. It can be looked at by itself as a work of literary art. Note the imagery and how it is used to enhance mood while also serving to symbolize the emotions of the characters. Are the characters well developed, or does the novel emphasize plot to the detriment of characterization? The novel can be looked at in its historical context. How does it represent Romanticism? Is it a critique of the science of its day? The universal qualities of the novel also invited comment. Is its indictment of scientific arrogance valid? Does it capture anything important about humanity's quest for knowledge? Do the characters represent anything universal about the human condition. Another interesting approach to the novel would be to see how its story has evolved in the adaptations of others. What about the Frankenstein story has captivated several generations of readers? Why do audiences still respond to the old story? How do the adaptations reflect the interests of their audiences? What is it about the novel that inspires adaptations and sequels?
1. Why is the novel subtitled The Modern Prometheus?
2. Why does Frankenstein create such a large, ugly monster rather than a normal-sized, good-looking man?
3. Why does Frankenstein not make a mate for the monster?
4. Why, initially, does Frankenstein hate his creature?
5. What is the purpose of the De Lacey interlude? How does it relate to the novel as a whole?
6. What conclusion does the monster reach about mankind after hearing Volney's "Ruins of Empires" and reading Goethe, Plutarch, and Milton?
7. Why do people sometimes refer to the monster as Frankenstein while in the novel he is unnamed?
8. Why does the monster kill Elizabeth?
9. In what ways is Frankenstein the "brother" of Walton's "heart"?
10. How is knowledge dangerous in Frankenstein?
11. Why does the monster keep leaving clues for Frankenstein to follow him?
12. How does the popular conception of Frankenstein's monster now differ from the monster Shelley describes in Frankenstein? Why has this change come about? Why is Shelley's version still worth reading?
13. How does the novel's structure add to the novel's effectiveness?
14. The monster describes himself as being like both Adam and Satan. Compare and contrast these figures. Do we finally think of the monster as a degraded, noble creature or as a diabolical fiend?
15. In Chapter 5, Frankenstein quotes some lines from Coleridge's poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Compare Frankenstein to the mariner.
16. Explain how the characters work as foils to and images of each other (Frankenstein the monster, Elizabeth-Walton-Clerval).
17. What is nature like in Frankenstein? Is it a force for good or evil?
18. Frankenstein's dying words to Walton are, "Seek happiness in tranquility and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries. Yet why do I say this? I have myself been blasted in my hopes, yet another may succeed." Why does Shelley close her novel with these lines? How does she feel about scientific discovery?