The scientist Victor Frankenstein recounts his story of bringing a creature to life and the tragedies that followed.
Below are some reading passages that we have hand picked to supplement this book. Be sure to read the passage summaries and our suggestions for instructional use.
9th Grade News 1140L
Scientists Clone Human Embryos To Make Stem Cells
Passage Summary: This informational news article offers insight into recent advances in stem cell research.
When and How to Pair: Have students read this informational text before they begin reading “Frankenstein” and ask them to consider the consequences and controversies surrounding certain scientific advances. As students read the book, have them take note of the problems that the Creature encounters because of Frankenstein’s intent on creating life. How do the ethical questions brought up in the informational text about cloning compare to the ethical questions that surround Frankenstein and his decision to create life in the book?
9th Grade Myth 1200L
Orpheus and Eurydice
Passage Summary: In the classic myth “Orpheus and Eurydice,” Ovid tells the story of Orpheus’s journey to the underworld to bring Eurydice back to earth after her premature death.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this text after students finish Volume 1, Chapter 4 — when Frankenstein has successfully brought his creature to life — and ask students to discuss the consequences of meddling with life and death. What drives Orpheus to follow his wife into the underworld? How does this compare to Frankenstein’s preoccupation with bringing his creature to life? What are the consequences of Orpheus and Frankenstein’s actions?
12th Grade Poem
Passage Summary: In this overtly dark poem by Frost, a husband and wife grieve differently over their recently deceased child.
When and How to Pair: Have students read this poem after they finish Volume 1, Chapter 6 — when William is discovered dead — to explore the different ways people deal with loss. How does Frankenstein respond to the knowledge that his brother is dead and it was likely the fault of the Creature? How do the other members of his family respond to William’s death? How do the poem and the passage from “Frankenstein” explore the range of responses people will have to death?
9th Grade Short Story 840L
Passage Summary: In "Miss Brill," a woman’s day in the park has unexpected emotional consequences.
When and How to Pair: Have students read this short story after Volume 2, Chapter 7 — when the Creature finally approaches the family he has been observing — to generate a discussion about isolation and the desire to connect with others. What sets Miss Brill and the Creature apart from the people they wish to form connections with? Ask students to discuss how Miss Brill and the Creature are treated when they try to form social relations with others. How do these negative interactions affect them?
8th Grade Poem
At A Window
Passage Summary: In this poem, a desperate speaker begs the gods to deliver someone to love.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this poem to students after they finish Volume 2 — when the Creature requests that Frankenstein provide him with someone to love — to generate a discussion about why humans crave love. Why does the Creature want someone who is like him to love? What are the Creature and the speaker in “At A Window” willing to do for love? Ask students to discuss whether they believe love is something that comes naturally to people, or something people must struggle to attain.
11th Grade Essay 820L
Passage Summary: In this passage, Bacon discusses the notion of revenge, why some seek it, and the consequences of this fixation.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this text to students after they finish Volume 3, Chapter 6, when Frankenstein decides to seek revenge on the Creature — in order to generate a discussion on the nature of revenge. After everything that the Creature has taken away from Frankenstein, do students think his desire for revenge is justified? What are the consequences of revenge outlined by Sir Francis Bacon? Do students think that Frankenstein will likely suffer similar consequences if he pursues the Creature? How has he already been disadvantaged by his preoccupation with the Creature in the book so far?
11th Grade Drama Non-Prose
'To Be Or Not To Be' Soliloquy
Passage Summary: In this famous soliloquy from Shakespeare's Hamlet, Hamlet contemplates suicide and poses the most important question one can ask: "To be or not to be?"
When and How to Pair: Have students read this excerpt from “Hamlet” after they have completed the novel. The Creature leaves with the intention of ending his own life. Have students explore both Frankenstein’s and the Creature’s miserable ends. Why do Hamlet and the Creature believe that ending their lives is a viable answer to their misery? Now that Frankenstein is dead, why do students think the Creature is dissatisfied and feels no drive to continue living? How do students think the Creature and Frankenstein could have avoided their sad fates?
8th Grade Poem
There Will Come Soft Rains
Passage Summary: "There Will Come Soft Rains" (1920) is a 12-line poem by Sara Teasdale in her collection Flame and Shadow. The poem imagines nature reclaiming a battlefield after the fighting is finished. The poem also alludes to the idea of human extinction by war (lines 10 and 12), which was not a commonplace idea until the invention of nuclear weapons, 25 years later.
When and How to Pair: Have students read this poem about the natural world after they finish “Frankenstein.” Ask them to discuss Shelley’’s focus on nature and the imagery she uses to emphasize this throughout the novel. How is nature described during different points of Frankenstein’s life and during different experiences? Sara Teasdale’s poem explores how nature remains unaffected by human suffering. Rather than remain unaffected, how does nature reflect Frankenstein and the Creature’s suffering through the book?