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.
This informational news article offers insight into recent advances in stem cell research.
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?
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.
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?
In this overtly dark poem by Frost, a husband and wife grieve differently over their recently deceased child.
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?
In "Miss Brill," a woman's day in the park has unexpected emotional consequences.
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?
In this poem, a desperate speaker begs the gods to deliver someone to love.
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.
In this passage, Bacon discusses the notion of revenge, why some seek it, and the consequences of this fixation.
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?
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?"
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?
In "There Will Come Soft Rains," nature is indifferent to the conflicts and suffering of mankind.
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?