Discussion Questions for Frankenstein

Some things to ponder as you read this unusual story from a very eclectic author . . . I am glad my life is a bit (OK a lot)  less dramatic than Shelley’s!

By the way, I think these are pretty good questions . . . they even make you think if you haven’t read the book (which is my current situation!)

  1. Is Robert Walton’s ambition similar to Frankenstein’s, as Frankenstein believes?
  2. Why is the fifteen-year-old Frankenstein so impressed with the oak tree destroyed by lightning in a thunderstorm?
  3. Why does Frankenstein become obsessed with creating life? Was it wrong for Frankenstein to inquire into the origins of life?
  4. Why is Frankenstein filled with disgust, calling the monster "my enemy," as soon as he has created him?
  5. What makes the creature a monster rather than a human being?
  6. Why did Victor create the creature? What responsibilities did Victor, as the creator, have toward his creature? Why did Victor abandon the creature?
  7. What does the monster think his creator owes him?
  8. Why does Frankenstein agree to create a bride for the monster, then procrastinate and finally break his promise?
  9. Why can’t Frankenstein tell anyoneeven his father or Elizabethwhy he blames himself for the deaths of William, Justine, and Henry Clerval?
  10. Why doesn’t Frankenstein realize that the monster’s pledge "I shall be with you on your wedding-night" threatens Elizabeth as well as himself?
  11. Why does Frankenstein find new purpose in life when he decides to seek revenge on the monster "until he or I shall perish in mortal conflict"?
  12. Why are Frankenstein and his monster both ultimately miserable, bereft of human companionship, and obsessed with revenge? Are they in the same situation at the end of the novel?
  13. Why doesn’t Walton kill the monster when he has the chance?
  14. One of the novel’s tragedies is the inability of characters to recognize the humanity of the creature. What qualities make us human? Which of these qualities does the creature possess? What qualities does he not have?
  15. Is the monster, who can be persuasive, always telling the truth?
  16. Who is the actual monster in Frankenstein?
  17. Victor warns Robert that acquiring knowledge can lead to "destruction and infallible misery." What serious consequences might the acquisition of knowledge have?
  18. Scholars sometimes use Frankenstein as an argument against scientific technology that creates life forms; others argue that it is not technology itself but the use to which it is put that presents an ethical problem. What is Shelley’s position? What is your position?
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