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Why Frankenstein matters

Frontiers in science, technology and medicine

By Audrey Shafer, MD

Illustration by Michael Waraksa

w18 Illustration for story on why Frankenstein still matters

“Clear!” At some point during medical education and practice, every physician has heard or given this command. One person — such as a closely supervised medical student — pushes a button to deliver an electric shock and the patient’s body jerks. The code team, in complex choreography, works to restore both the patient’s cardiac rhythm and a pulse strong enough to perfuse vital organs. 

After a successful defibrillation effort, team members do not have time to dwell on the line crossed from death to life. It is even difficult to focus on the ultimate goal: to enable the patient to leave the hospital intact, perhaps to grasp a grandchild’s — or grandparent’s — hand while crossing the street to the park.

Despite these dramatic hospital scenes, many scientists, doctors and patients balk at any mention of the words Frankenstein and medicine in the same breath. Because, unlike the Victor Frankenstein of Mary Shelley’s novel, the reanimators at a hospital code have not toiled alone in a garret; assembled body parts from slaughterhouses, dissecting rooms and charnel houses; or created an entirely new being. Nonetheless, in this bicentennial commemorative year of the book’s publication, it is not only germane, but important to consider the impact of this story, including our reactions to it, on the state of scientific research today.

Shelley’s Frankenstein has captured the imaginations of generations, even for those who have never read the tale written by a brilliant 18-year-old woman while on holiday with Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Dr. John Polidori amid extensive storms induced by volcanic ash during the so-called year without a summer. Mary Shelley (her name was Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin at the time) was intrigued by stories of science such as galvanism, which she would have heard through her father’s scientist (then called natural philosopher) friends.

With Frankenstein , Shelley wrote the first novel to forefront science as a means to create life, and as such, she wrote the first major work in the science fiction genre. Frankenstein, a flawed, obsessed student, feverishly reads extensive tomes and refines his experiments. After he succeeds in his labors, Frankenstein rejects his creation: He is revulsed by the sight of the “monster,” whom he describes as hideous. This rejection of the monster leads to a cascade of calamities. The subtitle of the book, The Modern Prometheus , primes the reader for the theme of the dire consequences of “playing God.”

Mary Shelley photo and photo of Frankenstein novel

A framework for examining morality and ethics

Frankenstein  is not only the first creation story to use scientific experimentation as its method, but it also presents a framework for narratively examining the morality and ethics of the experiment and experimenter. While artistic derivations, such as films and performances, and literary references have germinated from the book for the past 200 years, the current explosion of references to  Frankenstein  in relation to ethics, science and technology deserves scrutiny.

Science is, by its very nature, an exploration of new frontiers, a means to discover and test new ideas, and an impetus for paradigm shifts. Science is equated with progress and with advances in knowledge and understanding of our world and ourselves. Although a basic tenet of science is to question, there is an underlying belief, embedded in words like “advances” and “progress,” that science will better our lives.

Safeguards, protocols and institution approvals by committees educated in the horrible and numerous examples of unethical experiments done in the name of science are used to prevent a lone wolf like Victor Frankenstein from undertaking his garret experiments. Indeed, it is amusing to think of a mock Institutional Review Board approval process for a proposal he might put forward.

But these protections can go only so far. It is impossible to predict all of the consequences of our current and future scientific and technologic advances. We do not even need to speculate on the potential repercussions of, for example, the creation of a laboratory-designed self-replicating species, as we can look to unintended consequences of therapies such as the drug thalidomide, and controversies over certain gene therapies. This tension, this acknowledgment that unintended consequences occur, is unsettling.

Illustration of what researcher Luigi Galvani called animal electricity.

Science and technology have led to impressive improvements in health and health care. People I love are alive today because of cancer treatments unknown decades ago. We are incredibly grateful to the medical scientists who envisioned these drugs and who did the experiments to prove their effectiveness.

As an anesthesiologist, I care for patients at vulnerable times in their lives; I use science and technology to render them unconscious — and to enable them to emerge from an anesthetized state.

But, as the frontiers are pushed further and further, the unintended consequences of how science and technology are used could affect who we are as humans, the viability of our planet and how society evolves. In terms of health, medicine and bioengineering, Frankenstein resonates far beyond defibrillation. These resonances include genetic engineering, tissue engineering, transplantation, transfusion, artificial intelligence, robotics, bioelectronics, virtual reality, cryonics, synthetic biology and neural networks. These fields are fascinating, worthy areas of exploration.

‘Frankenstein’ is not only the first creation story to use scientific experimentation as its method, but it also presents a framework for narratively examining the morality and ethics of the experiment and experimenter.

We, as physicians, health care providers, scientists and people who deeply value what life and health mean, cannot shy away from discussions of the potential implications of science, technology and the social contexts which give new capabilities and interventions even greater complexity. Not much is clear, but that makes the discussion more imperative.

Even the call “Clear!” and the ritual removal of physical contact with a patient just about to receive a shock is not so “clear,” as researchers scrutinize whether interruptions to chest compressions are necessary for occupational safety — that is, it may be deemed safe in the future for shocks and manual compressions to occur simultaneously.

We need to discuss the big questions surrounding what is human, and the implications of those questions. What do we think about the possibility of sentient nonhumans, enhanced beyond our limits, more sapient than Homo sapiens? Who or what will our great-grandchildren be competing against to gain entrance to medical school?

Studying and discussing works of art and imagination such as Frankenstein , and exchanging ideas and perspectives with those whose expertise lies outside the clinic and laboratory, such as artists, humanists and social scientists, can contribute not just to an awareness of our histories and cultures, but also can help us probe, examine and discover our understanding of what it means to be human. That much is clear.

Audrey Shafer, MD

Audrey Shafer, MD, is a Stanford professor of anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine, the director of the Medicine and the Muse program and the co-director of the Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities Scholarly Concentration. She is an anesthesiologist at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System.

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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: exploring neuroscience, nature, and nurture in the novel and the films


  • 1 Program in Social Sciences, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, 1531 Trinity Church Road, Concord, NC, USA. Electronic address: [email protected].
  • PMID: 24041324
  • DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-444-63287-6.00009-9

The story of Victor Frankenstein's quest to conquer death produced a legacy that has endured for almost 200 years. Powerful in its condemnation of the scientist's quest to achieve knowledge at any cost, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of the most enduring novels of all time. It has never been out of print and has been translated to both stage and screen many times since its "birth." Numerous novels, short stories, and scripts have drawn upon Shelley's primary theme: the creation of a living organism from the dead, dying, and decaying body parts of human beings. Although Mary does not provide details of the animation process, particularly in her first edition, the process has been explored with a great deal of imagination and originality in the various cinematic portrayals of the story. Equally important as the theme of the scientist's quest for knowledge is the role that a creator plays in the life of its creation. Mary Shelley's novel pondered on how rejection would affect the offspring of such "unnatural" origins. In keeping with the "scientific" basis of the Creature's birth, cinematic portrayals attempted to provide a scientific rationale for the Creature's descent into madness and its evil behavior. From Robert Florey's initial script for the 1931 film directed by James Whale to the more recent films and television series, an abnormal brain is considered to be the cause of the madness and malignity of the Creature.

Keywords: Hammer films; James Whale; John William Polidori; Kenneth Branagh; Luigi Galvani; Naturphilosophen; Robert Florey; Universal Studios.

© 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication types

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Frankenstein: Texts and Contexts

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Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus: Texts

  • 'Frankenstein' (1818 edition) This Planet Ebook edition may be downloaded in ePUB, PDF, or MOBI formats.
  • 'Frankenstein': The Pennsylvania Electronic Edition A hypertext version of the 1818 edition. Contains an extensive online collection of supplementary materials and criticism.
  • Frankenbook A collective reading and collaborative annotation experience of the original 1818 text of Frankenstein.
  • Shelley-Godwin Archive: 'Frankenstein' Manuscripts Draft and fair copy manuscripts from Oxford's Bodleian Library.

Resources on Frankenstein

  • 'Frankenstein': Critical Articles A useful selection of criticism from scholarly studies on the novel. From the Pennsylvania Electronic Edition website.
  • 'Frankenstein' at 200 – Why Hasn't Mary Shelley Been Given the Respect She Deserves? Fiona Sampson, author of 'In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein', looks at the intellectual and social background of the novel.
  • 'Frankenstein' Reflects the Hopes and Fears of Every Scientific Era Author Philip Ball writes that Frankenstein is more complicated than a story of science gone awry; that each era makes Frankenstein in its own image.
  • Anonymous Review of Frankenstein-British Library
  • British Library: Discovering Literature: Romantics and Victorians A rich collection of primary sources, articles, themes, images, and works by British Romantic and Victorian authors.
  • Charles E. Robinson: Introduction to the 'Frankenstein' Notebooks Robinson discusses the history of the manuscripts.
  • Eighteenth Century Collections Online (U Michigan) Searchable database of 18th century texts in HTML.
  • The Frankenstein Meme This digital project from the California State University at Fullerton offers "a public, crowd-sourced, searchable database of literary works (novels, short stories, plays, and graphic novels) influenced by Mary Shelley’s novel over the last two hundred years."
  • Golems: Mysticism, History, Biology, and More This Kenyon University website examines the Yiddish legend of the Golem, an anthropomorphic figure made of clay or wood, and endowed with life by its creator.
  • An Introduction to 'Frankenstein' By Stephanie Forward of the Open University (UK).
  • It's Alive! Frankenstein At 200 (Podcast) In this episode of "On Point", 'Frankenstein' is discussed by historian Jill Lepore; physics professor Sidney Perkowitz; and Ed Finn, editor of "'Frankenstein': Annotated for Scientists, Engineers and Creators of All Kinds."
  • NYPL: 'Frankenstein', The Afterlife of Shelley's Circle Primary sources, images, and contextual essays on a wide range of topics surrounding 'Frankenstein'.
  • The Political Geography of Horror in Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' Fred V. Randel contends that the Bavarian setting of 'Frankenstein' is key to understanding its political dimensions.
  • Review of 'Frankenstein' by Percy Bysshe Shelley Published in The Athenaeum Journal of Literature, Science and the Fine Arts, 10 November 1832: fourteen years after the initial publication of the novel.
  • The Strange and Twisted Life of 'Frankenstein' Historian Jill Lepore examines the neglected birth and child-rearing aspects of the novel.
  • Was ‘Frankenstein’ Really About Childbirth? Ruth Franklin asks if Mary Shelley's experience of pregnancy lies at the heart of 'Frankenstein'.
  • Why Frankenstein is Still Relevant, Almost 200 Years after It Was Published This 2017 article by Josh was the first in a series of articles published on 'Frankenstein' in Slate. Provides links to the other articles.
  • “Possessing Nature: The Female in Frankenstein” Anne K. Mellor's feminist analysis of the female and the natural in 'Frankenstein'.
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Frankenstein : A virtual issue from Literature and Theology

Guest edited by jo carruthers and alana m.vincent.

research paper on frankenstein

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus was first published on 1 January 1818. It ought to be difficult to overstate its cultural influence over the past two hundred years as, arguably, the first novel which contains all the traits of modern science fiction, as an extended meditation on the nature of the human, of creation, and of creative responsibility – but there have been surprisingly few articles about Frankenstein published in Literature and Theology ’s 31 years, an oversight which we hope to see corrected in the near future. Instead, this virtual issue collects articles which the editors read as embodying the spirit or elaborating on the themes found within  Frankenstein .

Shelley’s novel is a deeply ethical, speculative and sensational novel, and has allured and fascinated readers for centuries. It addresses her generation’s adaptation to technological advances but also faces head on issues of spiritual, ethical and religious import. Into the novel is woven strands of the concerns of Shelley’s day, from the everyday politics of gender, difference, and scientific aspiration to issues of social justice that crowded political discussion at the time. The novel interrogates the boundaries, substances, and exceptionalism of humanity as monstrosity is identified in the created and creator, and as much in individual choices as in society’s conventions. Frankenstein takes on the mantle of Faust as he reaches to the heavens and confronts the consequences of defying divine sanction. The division between life and death, and all that matters about it to us, is pulled apart in the novel. It tells of the impulsivity of desperation in the face of grief as well as the despair of mortality in the creature’s separation from humanity. The novel looks at what human beings do when confronted with difference in ways that exposes the difficulty of intimacy for the outsider and the stranger. Each of the articles in this special edition draws on the threads of Frankenstein’s narrative in order to explore issues of: biotechnological progress and the human and what has become known as the post-human and transhuman; historical notions of the monstrous as conceptualized before Shelley’s time; the monstrous as a theme in post-colonial critique; and explorations of response to despair and violence. Whilst not explicitly inspired or drawing on Shelley’s Frankenstein , these articles are nonetheless indebted to its technological, monstrous, ethical, spiritual and political legacy.

Tiffany Tsao’s ‘The Tyranny of Purpose: Religion and Biotechnology in Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go’ ( Literature & Theology  26.2 (2012), 214-232) picks up on critical comparisons between Frankenstein and Ishiguro’s novel, demonstrating close parallels between the way that each novel treats the fraught relationship between creator and created creature. Tsao then traces the influence of Milton’s Paradise Lost , which is overt in Shelley and more subtle but, she argues, still present in Ishiguro, in order to argue that ‘the seemingly unrelated theological issues raised by Paradise Lost concerning the ethics governing creator–creation relations may provide surprising insight into what Ishiguro’s novel has to say about the problematic assumptions that underlie conceptualizations of religion and biotechnology in our own world’ (215). By showing the way that both Frankenstein and Never Let Me Go point back to Milton’s epic treatise on free will, Tsao is able to use the creature-narratives from Shelley and Ishiguro to interrogate Paradise Lost , showing the subtle ways in which Milton undermines his case for free will by presenting a cosmology structured by divine purpose. Reading Ishiguro against Milton, Tsao concludes that “Any succour that religion may be capable of providing will lie not in its ability to provide a sense of purpose, but rather, its ability to provide freedom from purpose, and the limitations that purpose can set on how we value and cherish life” (226).

Milton is also a key text in Michael Noschka’s article ‘Extended Cognition, Heidegger, and Pauline Post/Humanism’ ( Literature and Theology 28.3 (2014) 334-347). Noschka presents Satan as a cognitive materialist, citing his speech in Paradise Lost 1.254-44 [The mind is its own place, and in itself  Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n], but arguing that ‘By placing this Satanic rationalization within the larger scope of Paradise Lost as a whole, particularly insofar as the poem might function metonymically for literature itself, we are able to recognize the value of literature as a medium which challenges us to see beyond literal fact, beyond ourselves as the creators of such facts, and thereby acknowledge the value of metaphor and exegesis in our hyper-factual age’ (335). Noschka’s article makes a case for the continued value of literature and theology to direct thinkers of post-humanism towards the 'proper intersection between man [sic] and technology', a ‘humble humanism built on an ethics of responsibility’ (336).

It is precisely the absence of an ethics of responsibility from the philosophies that comprise transhumanism which is the major concern of Elaine Graham’s article, ‘“Nietzsche Gets a Modem”: Transhumanism and the Technological Sublime’ ( Literature & Thelogy 16.1 (2002) 65-80). Graham is deeply sceptical of the liberative promises of transhumanism, which she sees as conflating transcendence with disembodiment (72), and therefore failing to adequately engage with ethical questions concerning access to the resources which necessarily enable the technological revolution. Rather than a Heideggerian turn which stresses the revelatory potential of technology, Graham argues for a reconfiguration of ‘the religious symbolic in order to dismantle the equation of religion and “transcendence”’, while also attending to ‘the co-existence of the urged-for transcendence–a surrender of materialism the better to attain quasi-divinity–with the constant stimulation of consumer desires’ (77). It is in the lived, the material, and above all the economic realms that Graham sees both the promise and perils of the biotechnological revolution heralded by Frankenstein .

Andrea Schutz, Daniel Juan Gil and Michael Edward Moore all explore premodern theologies of human identity in order to interrogate meanings of the monstrous or the ‘Other’. Schutz’s article, ‘The Monster at the Centre of the Universe: Christ as Spectacle in Mass and English Civic Drama’ ( Literature & Theology  31.3 (2017), 269-284) argues for a distinction between the distance of audience and monster in modernity and the proximity encouraged in the medieval passion drama in which the world is understood to be ‘held together by paradox and monstrosity’ (272). The medieval world understood sensuous receptivity as a reciprocal process so that what was seen was also experienced and touched (273), softening boundaries between self and other. Christological theologies also work to blur and complicate human identity with a Christ-body that is redemptive, substitutionary and incarnational, and Schutz presents the eucharist and crucifixion as dramatized moments that draw self into other, human into the monstrous, and the monstrous as divinely epiphanic. Schutz returns to theological etymological tracings of ‘monster’ to monstrar , ‘to show’, to argue ‘the function of the monster is to be in the world and disclose truths larger than itself’ (271) so that Christ is a ‘sacred “category crisis”’ (272).

In ‘‘What does Milton’s God Want?–Human Nature, Radical Conscience, and the Sovereign Power of the Nation-State’ ( Literature & Theology , 28.4 (2014), 389-410), Gil reveals in Milton’s reworking of the creation narrative precisely the freedom from purpose or teleology that Tsao had hoped to find. Gil argues for a reading of Milton’s construction of humanity as one of potentiality. Drawing on theories of sovereignty from Carl Schmitt and Giorgio Agamben, Gil considers Milton to be presenting human life as dependent upon a sovereign definition of human nature but one that is necessarily historical and contingent. God or the transcendent may be invoked to secure a specific version of human identity, but because of its standpoint outside of that history, God or the transcendent is also a site of potential disruption. The ‘transcendent warrant’ becomes an ethical principle against which human activity can be measured. As such, Gil can come to the conclusion that for Milton, ‘being free means having the resources to transcend the particular definition of human nature enshrined in a particular political order’ (402).

The relation between human identity, creation and the creator is the focus of Moore’s article, ‘Meditations on the Face in the Middle Ages (with Levinas and Picard)’ ( Literature & Theology , 24.1 (2010), 19-37). Moore turns to fundamental questions provoked by the assertion that human identity has its theological anchor in God as creator. He attends to ancient and medieval conceptions of identity and the face in an imagined ‘dialogue in heaven’ (22) between Levinas and medieval theologians in order to consider Levinas’s placing of the other at the very core of identity: ‘According to Levinas, appreciation of “the holiness in the other than myself” at the same time requires an acceptance of godlike responsibility for all of creation and other people.’ (21) In Levinasian terms, the face provokes responsibility. To be found in the image of God is for Levinas ‘to find oneself in his trace’ (25, fn. 54); to be identified in and through a trace is to be the ‘vestige of something absent’ (26). For Levinas, all are strangers so that ‘the only possible humanism is “of the other”’ (26). Moore’s article offers a wealth of theological understandings of humanity conceived as ‘the image of God’, a set of theological debates that – for our purposes in this virtual issue of Literature and Theology – creates a further ‘heavenly dialogue’ between a Levinasian insistence on responsibility to the other and Shelley’s depiction of an irresponsible creator and a neglected creature.

Articles by Sarah Juliet Lauro and James H. Thrall both address the imaginative legacy of Frankenstein –the development of science fiction as a distinctive genre–but also position the tropes of science fiction as uniquely suited for addressing issues of subalternity and post-coloniality. In ‘The Zombie Saints: The Contagious Spirit of Christian Conversion Narratives: A Zombie Martyr’ ( Literature & Theology 26.2 (2012) 160-178), Lauro, inspired by Léon Bonnat's painting ‘Martyr de Saint-Denis’, reads the saint’s legend in parallel to zombie fiction of the sort which has dominated popular television and cinema in recent years. She argues that ‘the tendency of both zombie and martyr narratives to involve seemingly contradictory characterisations of a figure as simultaneously master and slave, or contaminated and cured, illustrates the ambulant dialectic of the living-dead and the saint’ (163). Lauro is attentive to the origin point of zombie tales, in ‘the Jesuit-dominated colonial Caribbean’ (173), and to the role the zombie plays as a figure of colonial resistance.

The potentials of science fiction as a literature of resistance is the main focus of Thrall’s article, ‘Postcolonial Science Fiction? Science, Religion and the Transformation of Genre in Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosome’ (Literature & Theology , 23.3 (2009), 289-302). Thrall makes explicit the ways in which ‘science fiction's re-enactments of imperial encounters permitted at least some authors to contemplate their own colonial complicity’ (291), focussing on a novel by Amitav Gosh set in a future in which many of the promises of a techno-future explored by Noschka and Graham have come to pass. Gosh’s techno-future is, however, a de-colonised future, in which ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ cosmology have equal weight, where the master’s tools have been consciously put to work to not dismantle, but extensively renovate, the master’s house, so that ‘the religious trope of reincarnation meets the science fiction trope of uploaded consciousness’ and ‘[g]host stories, religious narratives of reincarnation, scientific imaginings of DNA-borne identities, and cyber-constellations of uploaded personalities all draw on overlapping conceptions of the self as transferrable entity’ (300).

Where Frankenstein’s grief leads him to an irresponsible creation of life, and the creature’s wounds lead him to a more obvious violence, articles by Brandi Estey-Burtt and Joel Westerholm offer more positive reactions to precarity. Instead of producing a spiral of violence that wreaks such devastating effects, wounding becomes for these two authors a promissory expansion of humanity, first in Coetzee’s Disgrace and then in the ‘wounded speech’ of Rossetti’s poetry.

Estey-Burtt’s ‘Bidding the Animal Adieu: Grace in J. M. Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals and Disgrace’ (Literature & Theology , 31.2 (2017), 231-245) identifies imagination as a vital component of redemption and the working of grace. Grace here is for Estey-Burtt, through reference to theologian Serene Jones’s definition, ‘the incredible insistence on love amid fragmented, unravelled human lives’ (234) and enables a limited and tentative response to both specific traumatic events and the ongoing trauma of South African apartheid. What is significant about the animals in Coetzee’s essay and novel is their ability to express vulnerability. What religious language offers Coetzee’s understanding of human empathy with animals is a recognition of the limitation of the self that ‘acknowledges an unmanageable strangeness in ‘‘the self’’, ‘‘the soul’’’ (238). Drawing on Levinas and Derrida’s concept of the ‘ adieu ’ as the giving to God of the dying and dead, Estey-Burtt recognises in Lurie’s care for dying animals evidence that he is undone and wounded, but also compassionate.

Westerholm, in ‘Christina Rossetti’s “Wounded Speech”’ ( Literature & Theology 24.4 (2010), 345-359) invokes Jean-Louis Chrétien’s theology of prayer as ‘wounded speech’ so that ‘whoever addresses God always does so de profundis , from the depths of his distress whether manifest or hidden, from the depths of his sin’ (351) and that such wounds are not mitigated by prayer but the speaker remains ‘still wounded, even more so’ (345). As with Coetzee’s character, Lurie, so with the speaker of Rossetti’s poem-prayers (as Westerholm names them), we find that wounds produce and articulate a human vulnerability that leads not to the escalation of pain or violence but instead to what Westerholm and Estey-Burtt call ‘grace’. For Westerholm this grace is found in recognition of the creator’s responsibility, a theme repeatedly returned to in this special edition’s selection of articles. This invocation of God’s necessary responsibility is exemplified for Westerholm in Rossetti’s poem ‘Good Friday’, in which the speaker demands of God: ‘seek thy sheep’.

Section 1: Cyborgs and the Post-Human

‘The Tyranny of Purpose: Religion and Biotechnology in Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go’ by Tiffany Tsao Literature & Theology 26.2 (2012), 214-232.

‘Extended Cognition, Heidegger, and Pauline Post/Humanism’ by Michael Noschka Literature & Theology  28.3 (2014) 334-347.

“Nietzsche Gets a Modem”: Transhumanism and the Technological Sublime’ by Elaine Graham Literature & Theology 16.1 (2002) 65-80.

Section 2: Pre-modern Post-humanism

‘The Monster at the Centre of the Universe Christ as Spectacle in Mass and English Civic Drama’ by  Andrea Schutz Literature & Theology 31.3 (2017), 269-284.

‘What does Milton’s God Want? -- Human Nature, Radical Conscience, and the Sovereign Power of the Nation-State’ by Daniel Juan Gil Literature & Theology 28.4 (2014), 389-410.

‘Meditations on the Face in the Middle Ages (with Levinas and Picard) by Michael Edward Moore Literature & Theology 24.1 (2010), 19-37.

Section 3: Post-colonial Post-humanism

‘The Zombie Saints: The Contagious Spirit of Christian Conversion Narratives: A Zombie Martyr’ by Sarah Juliet Lauro Literature & Theology 26.2 (2012), 160-178.

‘Postcolonial Science Fiction? Science, Religion and the Transformation of Genre in Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosome’ By James H. Thrall Literature & Theology , 23.3 (2009), 289-302.

Section 4: Wounded Humanity

‘Biddding the Animal Adieu: Grace in J. M. Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals and Disgrace’ by Brandi Estey-Burtt Literature & Theology, 31.2 (2017), 231-245.

‘Christina Rossetti’s “Wounded Speech”’ by Joel Westerholm Literature & Theology, 24.4 (2010), 345-359.

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  • Published: 27 July 2016

Science fiction: The science that fed Frankenstein

  • Richard Holmes 1  

Nature volume  535 ,  pages 490–491 ( 2016 ) Cite this article

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Richard Holmes ponders the discoveries that inspired the young Mary Shelley to write her classic, 200 years ago.

In 1816, a teenager began to compose what many view as the first true work of science fiction — and unleashed one of the most subversive attacks on modern science ever written. Eighteen-year-old Mary Godwin (as she then was) had the idea for Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus that summer, while at the Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva in Switzerland, with her lover and future husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, and his friend and fellow poet Lord Byron. Forced inside by stormy weather, the group spent wild evenings telling ghost stories, while Byron's personal physician, the brilliant 20-year-old John William Polidori, regaled them with reports of the latest developments in medical science.

research paper on frankenstein

Mary's inventive mind was peculiarly primed to grapple with both literary and scientific controversy. Her mother was the feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, who had died from complications after Mary's birth. Her father was anarchist philosopher and novelist William Godwin, whose friends included chemists and pioneering electricity researchers Humphry Davy and William Nicholson, and the opium-addicted poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. These influences shaped her youthful thinking, and were encouraged by Shelley, who had dabbled in science at the University of Oxford before being thrown out for atheism.

Gothic drama

The myth of Victor Frankenstein, the crazed but idealistic young scientist who unwittingly lets loose his monstrous creation and struggles to accept responsibility, is a heady cocktail of gothic melodrama and disturbing speculation. It has proved astonishingly adaptable. The first theatrical version, Presumption: or the Fate of Frankenstein , opened at the English Opera House in London in 1823, to huge audiences and scandalous publicity (“Do not take your wives, do not take your daughters, do not take your families”). Mary Shelley attended, noting that “in the early performances all the ladies fainted and hubbub ensued!” There have been more than 90 dramatizations since, including the Danny Boyle-directed 2011 production at London's National Theatre, which opened with the Creature dropping naked from a huge, pulsating artificial womb. The story has also been adapted for more than 70 films, including James Whale's iconic 1931 Frankenstein starring Boris Karloff. In May this year, a Frankenstein ballet was staged at the Royal Opera House in London. Choreographer Liam Scarlett shrewdly analysed it as a love story: “The Creature is like an infant. He's desperately seeking a parent or loved one to take him through the world.”

research paper on frankenstein

Although the myth is well known, the original novel is not. There are three versions. Mary Shelley began to write the first, probably as a short story, in two notebooks at Villa Diodati, expanding it during the winter of 1816–17 in simple direct prose of great intensity (the notebooks remained unpublished until 2008). The second, lightly edited by her husband and more literary in manner, was published in 1818. The third was radically revised by Mary Shelley alone, and was published in 1831, with a fascinating new introduction by her.

With each version, the basic plot remains the same, but the tone grows darker. Frankenstein becomes more passionate and ambitious, his science becomes more sinister and misdirected (“I felt as if my soul were grappling with a palpable enemy”) and his Creature becomes more alienated and agonized. The 1831 introduction also contains an inventive, retrospective account of the storytelling competition at the villa. Mary now calls the book her “hideous progeny”, and claims that the whole idea came to her instantly, like an emotional bolt of summer lightning on waking from a terrible nightmare. “I saw — with shut eyes but acute mental vision — I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion.”

The book may, however, have had a more intellectual genesis. The best contemporary account of the ghost-story competition is Polidori's. A medical graduate of the University of Edinburgh, he had written his doctoral thesis on sleepwalking. Before the trip, he was commissioned by the publisher John Murray to keep a secret journal of Byron's adventures, and in this he recorded the villa party's speculative conversations and reading of German gothic “horror tales”. Above all, he noted their wide-ranging discussions of fundamental scientific principles, and whether the human body “was thought to be merely an instrument”. As Polidori put it, their brains “whizzed”.

Science fact

Polidori would have known about recent experiments in electrical resurrection techniques by Italian physicist Giovanni Aldini (nephew of bio-electrician Luigi Galvani), and the new anatomical theories of German physiologists such as Johann Friedrich Blumenbach. Also making waves were the fierce 'vitalist' debates at England's Royal College of Surgeons between John Abernethy and William Lawrence, about the possible existence of an electrical 'life-force' and the unique nature of human consciousness. These controversial ideas, alive in the great universities and research centres of Europe, fed into Frankenstein , and especially into the moral issues that it raised about the perils of scientific interference with nature.

Thus began a writing process involving careful research over many months. Shelley first mentions this in her journal for 24 July 1816. She was in Switzerland while walking above Chamonix towards Mont Blanc, absorbing the bleak landscape of the Mer de Glace glacier that would later fill the book's central confrontation between scientist and Creature. “Nothing can be more desolate than the ascent of this mountain ... we arrived wet to the skin ... I write my story”. Her notes on triumphantly completing the first draft, “Transcribe and correct F[rankenstein] ... Finish transcribing” do not appear until April and May 1817, just four months before the birth of her third child, Clara. It is no accident that metaphors of pregnancy, birthing and parentage suffuse this novel about the creation of life.

Streams of influence

In the intervening period of composition, back in England, Mary Shelley's journal reveals an impressive reading list. She absorbed the extreme accounts of polar exploration in George Anson's 1748 Voyage Round the World ; the distinction between alchemy and chemistry in Davy's 1812 Elements of Chemical Philosophy (based on his famous London lectures); and the new concepts of brain development explored in Lawrence's physiological lectures, given in 1816–17. In Coleridge's 1798 poem Rime of the Ancient Mariner , she encountered the psychology of guilt and abandonment; in John Milton's 1667 Paradise Lost , the theme of the demonic outcast. Her husband also made clear, in his anonymous preface to the 1818 edition, that they had discussed the scientific poetry of Erasmus Darwin, in The Temple of Nature, or The Origin of Society (1803). Everything she devoured was brilliantly recast as a new genre: science fiction.

Thus, Davy's lectures at London's Royal Institution were subtly transposed, sometimes almost phrase by phrase, into those of the fictional Dr Waldman, praising the work of contemporary scientists to young Frankenstein. “These philosophers ... penetrate into the recesses of nature, and show how she works in her hiding places. They ascend into the heavens; they have discovered how the blood circulates, and the nature of the air we breathe. They have acquired new and almost unlimited powers; they can command the thunders of heaven, mimic the earthquake, and even mock the invisible world with its own shadows.”

From her first draft, Mary had devised a complex structure that nests three autobiographical narratives one within the other like Russian dolls, each bringing a different interpretation to the Frankenstein myth. The first, often overlooked in adaptations, is by polar explorer Robert Walton. Told in the form of letters to his sister, it bookends the novel in the Arctic Ocean, and presents a moral enigma. Is the idealistic young Frankenstein essentially philanthropic, blindly ambitious or simply insane? And is his Creature evil or innocent — an ugly outcast or a persecuted victim longing for love?

The early chapters evoke the mysteries of experiment, naive excitement about electrical kites and the fascination of air pumps.

The second autobiography is Frankenstein's own, particularly his thrilling discovery of the deep “enticements of science”. These early chapters are among the first fictional presentations of the education of a young scientist, evoking the mysteries of experiment, naive excitement about electrical kites and the fascination of air pumps. Brilliantly transformed in the 1831 edition, these become more sophisticated references to galvanism, the necessity of mathematics, the genius of Isaac Newton and the intoxicating delights and dangers of charismatic science lecturing.

The third narrative, dramatically held back until halfway through, is the Creature's. Written in a wholly different stylistic register, it swings violently between desperate exclamations, poignant appeals and furious menacings. In the great showdown with Frankenstein on the Mer de Glace, the Creature begs the scientist to delve further into experimentation to create a female companion whom he can love.

Faced with this terrible ethical dilemma, Frankenstein agrees: this second creation scene, in a secret laboratory on the Orkney Islands off northeast Scotland, is also often overlooked. Fearful of the consequences, he destroys his female creation at the last moment, turning the disappointed Creature into a vengeful demon. So emerges the central drama of the novel. It is not merely the creation of life itself, the technical ambition of science, that is called into question. It is the unfolding moral choices and unforeseen ethical responsibilities that may come with scientific advances: artificial intelligence or artificial life, nuclear power or nuclear weaponry, the genome sequence or invasive genetic editing.

One added irony makes Shelley's novel much greater than any film — and greater indeed than its popular interpretation as an anti-science myth. It is that in these exchanges, paradoxically, the Creature becomes even more expressive and human than Frankenstein. He produces arias of speech, begging for justice, understanding, compassion and human rights. In the encounter in the Alps, the Creature declares himself Frankenstein's unique responsibility: “I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed ... Every where I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded ... Misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.”

That is the enduring youthful genius and imaginative generosity of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein . It proclaims that the alien, the outcast, the rejected, finally must have claims on our humanity. And claims on our science, too.

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Richard Holmes is the author of The Age of Wonder, which won the 2009 Royal Society Prize for Science Books.,

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In retrospect: On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences

In retrospect: Brave New World

A View from the Bridge blog: Charlotte Brontë's brushes with science

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Frankenstein Research Paper Topics

Academic Writing Service

Exploring Frankenstein research paper topics unveils a vast realm of academic possibilities surrounding Mary Shelley’s iconic novel. This abstract aims to guide students through a comprehensive selection of research themes, strategies for choosing and delving into these topics, and ways to craft an impactful paper on them. Additionally, we introduce iResearchNet’s top-tier writing services, designed to support and enhance students’ academic endeavors, ensuring that they produce remarkable research papers that reflect both depth and mastery of the subject. Dive deep into the world of Frankenstein and discover a treasure trove of literary insights waiting to be analyzed and discussed.

100 Frankenstein Research Paper Topics

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a monumental work of literature that intertwines Gothic horror with profound philosophical inquiries. Given the vast thematic depth and the intricate characterizations in the novel, it offers a wealth of potential topics for in-depth academic study. For students and scholars alike, this list provides a structured overview, divided into ten categories, each containing ten Frankenstein research paper topics.

Academic Writing, Editing, Proofreading, And Problem Solving Services

Get 10% off with 24start discount code, 1. historical context of frankenstein.

  • The influence of the Romantic era on Frankenstein .
  • Mary Shelley’s personal tragedies and their reflections in the novel.
  • The implications of the Industrial Revolution in the creation narrative.
  • The “Year Without a Summer” and its inspiration for Gothic literature.
  • Frankenstein and its relationship to early 19th-century scientific discourse.
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley’s influence on the narrative.
  • The novel’s reception in 19th-century literary circles.
  • Historical depictions of the “mad scientist” trope pre- Frankenstein .
  • The novel’s place in the canon of British literature.
  • Frankenstein in the socio-political context of the 1810s.

2. Character Analysis

  • Victor Frankenstein’s tragic flaw and its consequences.
  • The creature’s development: From innocence to vengeance.
  • Elizabeth Lavenza: Victim, muse, or more?
  • The parallel journeys of Victor Frankenstein and Robert Walton.
  • Justine Moritz and the theme of unjust persecution.
  • The duality of Henry Clerval’s character.
  • The creature as an embodiment of human solitude and social rejection.
  • Victor’s father, Alphonse, and his role in Victor’s undoing.
  • Exploring the absence of a mother figure in the narrative.
  • The creature’s encounters with the De Lacey family.

3. Major Themes

  • Ambition and its destructive potential in Frankenstein .
  • Nature vs. nurture in the creature’s development.
  • Science and morality: Unearthing the novel’s ethical concerns.
  • The pursuit of forbidden knowledge.
  • Isolation, loneliness, and the human need for companionship.
  • Revenge and its cyclical nature.
  • Creation, control, and responsibility.
  • Innocence and its loss: Tracing the creature’s tragic arc.
  • The role of destiny and free will.
  • The boundary between life and death.

4. Ethical and Philosophical Implications

  • The responsibility of creation: Parenting vs. playing God.
  • The consequences of defying natural order.
  • Comparing Victor Frankenstein to the Greek figure Prometheus.
  • Ethical implications of giving life without offering love.
  • The moral debate: Who’s the real monster?
  • The quest for identity: Creature or creator?
  • Exploring existential crisis through Victor and his creation.
  • Beauty, deformity, and societal perceptions.
  • The nature of the soul in Victor’s creation.
  • Free will, fate, and determinism in the narrative.

5. Symbolism and Motifs

  • Light and fire: Creation, enlightenment, and destruction.
  • The importance of setting: From the Swiss Alps to the Arctic.
  • The symbolism behind the creature’s physical appearance.
  • Body parts and fragmented identity.
  • Nature as a reflection of emotional states.
  • Ice and coldness as symbols of emotional desolation.
  • Exploration of the doppelganger motif.
  • The interconnectedness of life and death.
  • The use of letters and their narrative significance.
  • The juxtaposition of science and alchemy.

6. Literary Devices and Form

  • An exploration of the novel’s frame narrative.
  • The significance of the epistolary form in the novel.
  • The use of foreshadowing and its impact on tension.
  • Analyzing the narrative voice: Reliable or not?
  • Gothic elements and their contribution to the novel’s tone.
  • The role of landscape in setting the novel’s mood.
  • Shelley’s use of allusions: From Milton to the Bible.
  • Frankenstein and the Byronic hero.
  • The interplay of horror and tragedy in the narrative.
  • The novel’s structure and its mirroring of the creation process.

7. Science, Nature, and the Supernatural

  • The portrayal of scientific exploration and its limits.
  • Nature as both healer and destroyer.
  • The supernatural undertones of Victor’s experiment.
  • The juxtaposition of alchemy and modern science.
  • Galvanism and its influence on the reanimation idea.
  • The perils of overreaching in the scientific realm.
  • The boundaries of life: Where does life truly begin and end?
  • Victor’s confrontation with nature’s sublime.
  • The impact of environment on the creature’s psyche.
  • The unnatural nature of Victor’s experiment.

8. Adaptations and Influence

  • The evolution of Frankenstein ‘s creature in film and media.
  • Exploring the differences between the novel and its movie adaptations.
  • Frankenstein in theatre: Different interpretations on stage.
  • The novel’s influence on the horror genre.
  • Modern retellings and reinterpretations of the Frankenstein story.
  • Frankenstein in popular culture: From comics to video games.
  • How the novel has shaped the portrayal of mad scientists in fiction.
  • The legacy of Mary Shelley’s creation in 21st-century literature.
  • Analyzing parodic takes on the Frankenstein tale.
  • Comparing Frankenstein with other iconic monster tales.

9. Reception and Legacy

  • The initial reactions to Frankenstein upon its publication.
  • Tracing the journey of Frankenstein from pulp horror to literary classic.
  • The feminist reception of the novel.
  • Frankenstein in the academic curriculum over the years.
  • The novel’s influence on scientific discourse and ethics.
  • How Frankenstein challenged the novel form of its time.
  • The cultural impact of the novel in various countries.
  • Frankenstein and its resonance in modern bioethical debates.
  • The novel’s role in shaping Gothic literature.
  • The legacy of Mary Shelley as more than just the author of Frankenstein .

10. Comparative Analysis

  • Comparing Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll’s duality in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde .
  • Frankenstein and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner : Exploring shared themes.
  • Parallels between Victor Frankenstein and Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost .
  • Frankenstein and its Gothic predecessor, The Castle of Otranto .
  • The creature’s lament and the plight of Shakespeare’s Caliban in The Tempest .
  • Comparing the challenges of creation in Frankenstein and Prometheus Bound .
  • The maternal absence in Frankenstein and Wuthering Heights .
  • Scientific overreach: Frankenstein vs. Brave New World .
  • Ethical dilemmas in Frankenstein and The Island of Dr. Moreau .
  • The tragic arc of Victor and Oedipus in Oedipus Rex .

This expansive list illustrates the multifaceted nature of Frankenstein . The novel provides endless avenues for exploration, from historical contexts and character studies to thematic analyses and comparative evaluations. As you embark on your academic journey, let these Frankenstein research paper topics guide your inquiries into the rich tapestry of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece.

Frankenstein and its Wealth of Research Paper Topics

Few literary works have cast as long and imposing a shadow over the world of literature as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein . Born from the gloomy summer spent in the company of Lord Byron and Percy Shelley, this groundbreaking novel not only pioneered the science fiction genre but also addressed timeless themes like the hubris of mankind, the ethics of creation, and the consequences of unchecked ambition.

Its protagonist, Victor Frankenstein, driven by insatiable curiosity, tampers with the sanctity of life, giving birth to a creature that becomes an embodiment of society’s worst fears about the implications of unchecked scientific discovery. The creature’s journey, oscillating between a search for love and acceptance and a thirst for revenge, poses profound questions about nature vs. nurture, societal rejection, and the human condition.

The story’s universal themes, coupled with its complex characters and allegorical layers, make it a fertile ground for academic exploration. From delving into the historical and cultural backdrop against which Shelley wrote her masterpiece to dissecting its intricate narrative structure and symbolism, there is a vast ocean of Frankenstein research paper topics that can emerge from this one novel.

Researchers and students can look into the parallels between Victor’s overreaching ambitions and those of the mythological Prometheus, or explore the myriad ways in which Frankenstein has been adapted and reinterpreted over the centuries. They could also dive into a character study of the misunderstood creature, whose tragic arc has been a poignant reflection of societal ostracism and the deep-seated human need for companionship.

In essence, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein offers a treasure trove of research avenues, each waiting to be delved into, analyzed, and appreciated. Whether you’re a literature student, a seasoned academic, or a curious reader, the world of Frankenstein promises rich insights and discoveries.

How to Choose Frankenstein Research Paper Topics

Frankenstein is not just a novel; it’s an exploration into the depths of human ambition, societal expectations, and the ramifications of playing god. Selecting a research topic from such a multifaceted masterpiece can be daunting, yet incredibly rewarding. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you choose the perfect Frankenstein research paper topic.

  • Understand the Context:  Before diving into specific Frankenstein research paper topics, it’s vital to grasp the context in which Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein . Familiarize yourself with the Romantic period, the socio-political climate, and the personal experiences that influenced Shelley. A thorough understanding can help you identify unique angles and connections for your research.
  • Focus on Your Passion:  Given the vast array of themes present in the novel, it’s beneficial to select one that genuinely intrigues you. Whether it’s the moral implications of creation, the societal ostracization of the creature, or a feminist reading of the text, choose a theme you’re passionate about.
  • Character Analysis:  Dive deep into the psyche of the novel’s characters. Each individual, from Victor Frankenstein to the creature, and even the minor characters, offers a wealth of analysis potential. Examine their motivations, relationships, and developments throughout the narrative.
  • Interdisciplinary Approaches:  Don’t limit yourself to purely literary analyses. Frankenstein lends itself beautifully to interdisciplinary studies. Consider incorporating perspectives from fields like bioethics, sociology, or even artificial intelligence, given the novel’s themes of creation and responsibility.
  • Symbolism and Motifs:  Shelley’s text is replete with symbols and motifs, from the rugged landscapes that mirror Victor’s tumultuous psyche to the pervasive themes of light and fire. Exploring these symbols can offer fresh insights into the novel’s deeper meanings.
  • Historical and Biographical Lens:  Mary Shelley’s own life, marked by tragedy, love, and a unique literary circle, deeply influenced her writing. A biographical approach, comparing her life events with the novel’s occurrences, can provide an enriching perspective.
  • Adaptations and Interpretations:  Frankenstein has been adapted numerous times into films, plays, and other media. Analyzing these adaptations, their faithfulness to the source material, and the variations they introduce can make for a compelling research topic.
  • Comparative Studies:  Consider comparing Frankenstein with other literary works from the Romantic period or even contemporary works addressing similar themes. Such comparative studies can yield fascinating insights into evolving literary techniques and societal values.
  • Philosophical Exploration:  Delve into the philosophical questions that Frankenstein poses. Discussions around what it means to be human, the nature of evil, and the boundaries of scientific exploration can be deeply thought-provoking.
  • Review Existing Literature:  Before finalizing your topic, peruse existing scholarly articles and papers on Frankenstein . This can help you identify gaps in research or inspire you to challenge established interpretations.

In conclusion, the world of Frankenstein is vast and varied. While the multitude of research avenues might seem overwhelming, by following a structured approach and aligning with your academic and personal interests, you can uncover a topic that not only adds value to the existing body of literature but also provides a fulfilling research experience. Remember, the key is to be thorough, curious, and passionate about your chosen avenue.

Guidelines on Writing a Frankenstein Research Paper

Delving into Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a transformative experience, as the narrative’s intricate layers of meaning and profound thematic depth offer a multitude of avenues for scholarly exploration. If you’ve chosen a topic related to Frankenstein for your research paper, you’re about to embark on a riveting academic journey. To ensure that your paper is compelling, insightful, and academically rigorous, here are some extended guidelines to follow:

  • Deepen Your Reading of the Text: While a preliminary reading of Frankenstein provides a basic understanding, it’s essential to revisit the novel multiple times. On each reading, focus on different elements, be it character development, themes, or narrative techniques. Annotate your book, highlighting significant passages and making notes in the margins.
  • Understand Mary Shelley’s World: Understanding the world Mary Shelley inhabited is crucial. Familiarize yourself with the Romantic era, the scientific advancements of the time, and the intellectual circles in which Shelley moved. Grasping the zeitgeist of her age will give you a richer context for your analysis.
  • Craft a Clear Thesis Statement: A well-defined thesis statement is the foundation of any successful research paper. It should encapsulate your main argument or insight about the novel in a clear and concise manner. Every subsequent section of your paper should support or elaborate on this central thesis.
  • Incorporate Primary and Secondary Sources: While Frankenstein will be your primary text, it’s vital to include secondary sources that either support or counter your arguments. This could be scholarly articles, critiques of the novel, biographical accounts of Mary Shelley, or related literary works. Ensure that these sources are credible and relevant.
  • Pay Attention to Structure and Flow: A well-organized paper is more persuasive and easier to follow. Begin with an introduction that offers a brief overview of your chosen topic and your thesis statement. Follow this with body paragraphs that delve into your main points, using evidence from the text and secondary sources. Conclude with a strong summary that reiterates your main findings and their significance.
  • Analyze, Don’t Summarize: It’s a common pitfall to end up summarizing the novel rather than analyzing it. While brief summaries can provide context, your primary focus should be on offering insights, interpretations, and critical evaluations related to your Frankenstein research paper topics.
  • Consider Counterarguments: A balanced research paper considers opposing viewpoints or alternative interpretations. By addressing counterarguments, you not only demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the text but also strengthen your main argument by addressing and countering potential criticisms.
  • Adhere to Stylistic and Formatting Guidelines: Ensure that you follow the specific style guide (APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard) as prescribed by your instructor or institution. This pertains not just to citations and bibliography, but also to headings, margins, and overall formatting.
  • Revise and Edit Thoroughly: Once your initial draft is complete, set it aside for a few days. Return to it with fresh eyes, revising for clarity, coherence, and conciseness. Check for grammatical errors, awkward phrasings, or any inconsistencies in argumentation.
  • Seek Feedback: Before finalizing your paper, it’s beneficial to get feedback. This could be from peers, instructors, or academic mentors. Constructive criticism can help you refine your arguments, correct oversights, and enhance the overall quality of your paper.

In summary, writing a research paper on Frankenstein is both a challenge and a delight. The novel’s rich tapestry of themes, characters, and motifs provides endless opportunities for academic inquiry. By adhering to these guidelines, you’ll be well-equipped to produce a paper that’s insightful, well-researched, and a testament to Shelley’s literary genius.

iResearchNet Writing Services

Embarking on the academic adventure of writing a research paper on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is no easy task. The layers of themes, historical contexts, and character intricacies demand meticulous research and a clear writing style. Recognizing these challenges, iResearchNet proudly presents its premium writing services specifically tailored for Frankenstein research papers. Here’s why students across the globe turn to us for their academic requirements:

  • Expert Degree-Holding Writers:  At iResearchNet, our writing team comprises of professionals who hold advanced degrees in literature, ensuring that your research paper is crafted by experts who have a profound understanding of Frankenstein . With their vast experience, they weave in nuances that elevate the depth and quality of your paper.
  • Custom Written Works:  Every student’s perspective and interpretative lens is unique, and so should be their research paper. Our writers ensure that each Frankenstein paper is tailored to your specific guidelines, requirements, and academic level. This customization ensures the originality and uniqueness of the paper.
  • In-depth Research:  Beyond just the narrative of Frankenstein , our writers delve into biographies, scholarly articles, and historical contexts, weaving them seamlessly into your paper. This holistic approach ensures that your paper is not just a reflection on the novel but a well-rounded academic piece.
  • Custom Formatting:  Whether it’s APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, or Harvard, our team is adept at any formatting style. The intricacies of each citation style are adhered to with precision, guaranteeing that your paper is perfectly formatted and referenced.
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Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is not just a novel; it’s a deep exploration of human nature, ethics, and the limits of scientific ambition. Delving into this world requires more than just reading; it demands insight, understanding, and a keen ability to interweave narrative with historical and thematic contexts. This is where iResearchNet steps in as your guiding light.

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By mary shelley, frankenstein study guide.

The early nineteenth century was not a good time to be a female writer ­-- particularly if one was audacious enough to be a female novelist. Contemporary beliefs held that no one would be willing to read the work of a woman; the fantastic success of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein served to thoroughly disprove this theory.

Frankenstein established Shelley as a woman of letters when such a thing was believed to be a contradiction in terms; only the reputation of Madame de Stael surpassed Shelley’s in Europe. De Stael, however, was more famous for continuing to publish her works despite the fact that the Emperor Napoleon had explicitly forbade her to do so, rather than for the quality of the works themselves.

Though Frankenstein is now customarily classified as a horror story (albeit the first and purest of its kind), it is interesting to note that Shelley's contemporaries regarded it as a serious novel of ideas. It served as an illustration of many of the tenets of William Godwin's philosophy, and did more to promote his ideas than his own work ever did. The novel does not, however, subscribe to all of Godwin's precepts. It stands in explicit opposition to the idea that man can achieve perfection --­ in fact, it argues that any attempt to attain perfection will ultimately end in ruin.

Frankenstein is part of the Gothic movement in literature,­ a form that was only just becoming popular in England at the time of its publication. The Gothic mode was a reaction against the humanistic, rationalist literature of The Age of Reason ; one might say it was ushered in by the death of Keats, the English author with whom Romanticism is perhaps most closely associated. Frankenstein might be seen as a compromise between the Gothic approach and the Romantic one: it addresses serious philosophical subjects in a fantastical manner. ­Though it confronts recognizable human problems, it can hardly be said to take place in a recognizably natural world. Some critics have suggested that this tension between Gothic and Romantic literary modes echoes the philosophical tension that existed between herself and her husband, the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

As the prejudice against women writers was quite strong, Shelley determined to publish the first edition anonymously. Despite this fact, the novel's unprecedented success paved the way for some of the most prominent women writers of the nineteenth century, including George Eliot, George Sand, and the Bronte sisters. All of them owed Mary a tremendous literary debt. Without the pioneering work of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, a great many female authors might never have taken up their pens; they might never have felt free to exhibit dark imagination, nor to engage in philosophical reflection. Without her, and the women whose work she made possible, English literature would be unquestionably the poorer.

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Frankenstein Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for Frankenstein is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

What decisions and discoveries go into Frankenstein’s creation? What does he learn first, and which parts of the process take longer?

There is so much in your questions. This is only a short answer space. Victor Frankenstein studies biology and metaphysics first. Victor dreams of creating a new species: to renew life.

Explain about the gigantic figure in Frankenstein?

Are you referring to the creature? What specifically do you need to know?

Consider the monsters motivations for tracking down Frankenstein. Why does the master switch out his creator according to the text?

I'm sorry, your question requires additional information. Please provide a chapter number.

Study Guide for Frankenstein

Frankenstein study guide contains a biography of Mary Shelley, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein Summary
  • Frankenstein Video
  • Character List

Essays for Frankenstein

Frankenstein essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Frankenstein
  • Egotism, Personal Glory, and the Pursuit for Immortality
  • Frankenstein and the Essence Of the Romantic Quest
  • Like Father Like Son: Imitation and Creation
  • Frankenstein's Discovery

Lesson Plan for Frankenstein

  • About the Author
  • Study Objectives
  • Common Core Standards
  • Introduction to Frankenstein
  • Relationship to Other Books
  • Bringing in Technology
  • Notes to the Teacher
  • Related Links
  • Frankenstein Bibliography

E-Text of Frankenstein

Frankenstein e-text contains the full text of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

  • Letters 1-4
  • Chapters 1-4
  • Chapters 5-8
  • Chapters 9-12
  • Chapters 13-16

Wikipedia Entries for Frankenstein

  • Introduction
  • Author's background
  • Literary influences
  • Composition

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Research Paper on Frankenstein

Profile image of Alexander Agishtein

In order to understand Mary's world view, it is important to understand the primary philosophical and artistic movement of her time.

Related Papers

Jaqueline Donada

research paper on frankenstein

Sümeyra Çorumlu Uyurca , Ilda Poshi

In this paper we will deal with the concept of the monstrous acts and the importance of parental responsibility in the novel Frankenstein. It is highlighted that it is easier to understand the reasons behind some “crimes” when the family relationships are analysed thoroughly. In the novel Frankenstein, there are some certain types of family relationships and under the shadow of these relationships, the relationship between father-like scientist and his creation is held successfully. By analysing some monstrous acts in the light on the flaws of parent-child relationship, we endeavour at demonstrating that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is not a simple retelling of a monster fabricated by a disturbed mind. This way, the novel represents a cross between the influence of parents’ role in a child’s life and the degradation of Enlightenment ideas according to which only science and logic can reveal human “truths”, whereas Romanticism worked as a medium to veil or hinder personal fulfilment. Finally, this paper helps us see the real “monster” in our lives and parental responsibilities nowadays socially and historically, where Enlightenment ideologies and concerns such as intellectualism or humanism are still a groove of heightened debate.

Brill's Companion to the Reception of Aeschylus

Ana González-Rivas Fernández

It is not by chance that Mary Shelley decided to define her renowned doctor Frankenstein as a “modern Prometheus” in the title of the novel that brought her undying fame. Throughout the nineteenth-century, the myth of Prometheus acquired a powerful symbolism and became associated with ideals of social justice and scientific progress. However, alongside the myth, the title of the novel also points to a text that was a literary reference for the Romantic authors: Aeschylus’s Prometheus Bound. This chapter will explore the possible connections between this classical tragedy and the English novel and discuss the place that Aeschylus’s work has in the web of intertextuality of Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus. This analysis will show the process of duplication and inversion that Mary Shelley carries out to create her own Prometheus--a character who is now closer to the modern antihero than the selfless and brave titan.

Saraliza Anzaldúa

To date, the majority of scholars have framed the creature in Frankenstein as a monster. By focusing on a single embodiment, scholars have neglected the monstrous aspects pervasive in the novel and ignored the fact that Shelley’s creature actually reflects nineteenth-century Britain. This thesis argues that there is no monster, and Shelley’s intention was to display the monstrosity of her own society –– not to write a monster novel. Through a textual and historical analysis, this thesis will elucidate the spiritual, physical, mental, and social monstrosities within Frankenstein. Shelley addressed the monstrosities of her society through the creature, nine of which have been selected for this study and assorted into three categories: three spiritual, three physical and mental, and three social. The first three monstrosities connect the creation of the creature, his soul, and the science used to create him with the theological debates of the period regarding Christian resurrection, the status of the slave’s soul, and the changing status of science in Shelley’s era. The three physical and mental monstrosities address the creature’s hybridity, strength, and mental acuity as a reflection of monstrous births, and Shelley’s own experience with human frailty and mental instability. The last three monstrosities examine the role of animals, women, and family in the novel, and how the creature reflects these various aspects in the context of how Shelley experienced them in the nineteenth-century. All nine monstrosities appear to reflect upon Victor’s creature to make him seem more monstrous, but the creature is actually the mirror of a monstrous society and not an embodiment of monstrosity himself.

Anamaria Diana

Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts 20.3 (2009): 385-405

T. S. Miller

This essay positions Brad Bird’s animated film The Iron Giant as an overlooked adaptation of the Frankenstein story, with reference to its multiple intertexts in both Shelley’s novel and the tradition of film adaptations. The Iron Giant tells the tale of an artificial being that, unlike Frankenstein’s monster, receives the “proper” nurturing and moral education from a surrogate parent; accordingly, Bird’s giant learns to reject the destructive impulses that turn Frankenstein into a tragedy. Although Bird’s rereading of this foundational text obviously includes children among its audience, it is not simplistically optimistic, and its real innovation lies in the absence of the giant’s creator from the plot: we see a being truly abandoned by its maker, yet one whose capacities for self-determination and regenerative “self-creation” win out over alienation.

Vittoria S Rubino, Ph.D.

Pieces of literature are never written in isolation from transitional periods in time, allowing works to become symbolic structures of history. During the 19th century in Europe, Romantics sought to dispute the values of Enlightenment ideals while also developing a humanistic critique of the Industrial Revolution, and the indications are transparent in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Mary Shelley intentionally draws upon a number of contemporary sources for her understanding of electrical science in the novel. New Historicism, or Cultural Poetics, emphasizes the interaction between the historical context of a work and a modern reader’s understanding and interpretation of the work. Reading the novel Frankenstein within the framework of New Historicism and Cultural Criticism renders a more modern interpretation of the novel as a judgment of science, and depicts the influence of the ideals of the Romantic Movement: freedom of thought and expression, skepticism about science, society’s potential to be transformed by the individual, the plight of the individual, and the appeal of nature to affect one’s emotions. Mary Shelley’s novel is a reaction to the hollowness and vanity of Enlightenment thought that later led to the Industrial Revolution. Victor Frankenstein is presented as a doctor who is discontent with his mediocre life, living outside of Romantic ideals. Frankenstein believes he will achieve satisfaction through the use of scientific and alchemic measures, which helps him accomplish the creation of his Monster. In her criticism of the Enlightenment, Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein articulates the revolutionary spirit of the Romantic era, and anticipates the coming of the Industrial Revolution.

Natalia Montoya

International Journal of English Language and Translation Studies

The tool for Mary Shelley to criticize and satirize Romanticism is her famous character, Victor Frankenstein, or as the subtitle of the novel suggests: The Modern Prometheus. In Romantic beliefs, Prometheus was the symbol of limitless ability and freedom to whom many Romantic Poets pay tribute. In contrast, in Mary Shelley's opinion, this 'metaphysical revolt' cannot go unpunished. The aim of this paper is to examine, through a Foucauldian reading, the mythic character of Prometheus in Romantic era, and the differences existing between Marry Shelley's presentations of the modern version of the character and the Romantic version, and to show how Mary Shelley, belonging to other discourses rather than the dominant one, opposes the Romantic-related ideas. As Foucault believes there exist other discourses along with the dominant one all of which are in a constant struggle over power in a hierarchy. Mary Shelley follows some marginalized discourses, and her opposition to Romantic ideals stems from her relationship with other major Romantic Poets, and also from getting influence from some scientific experimentations of her day. She witnesses the harshness in her relationships with Romantic Poets, and their doomed aspirations, which agonizingly affect her life.

Jeff J.S. Black

A public lecture given at St. John's College, Santa Fe, on March 2, 2018.

Essays on Frankenstein

Hook examples for "frankenstein" essays, monster or victim hook.

Is Frankenstein's creature truly a monstrous villain, or is he a victim of society's rejection and cruelty? Dive into the moral ambiguity of this iconic character and explore the depths of his humanity.

Mary Shelley's Inspiration Hook

Discover the intriguing story behind the creation of "Frankenstein." Explore Mary Shelley's life, her influences, and how this timeless novel emerged from the challenges and tragedies she faced.

Scientific Ambition Hook

Victor Frankenstein's relentless pursuit of scientific discovery leads to catastrophic consequences. Analyze the theme of scientific ambition and its ethical implications in the novel.

The Promethean Myth Hook

Frankenstein is often compared to the myth of Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods. Delve into how the novel explores themes of creation, rebellion, and the consequences of playing god.

The Pursuit of Knowledge Hook

Examine the characters' quests for knowledge in "Frankenstein" and how their thirst for understanding the unknown shapes their destinies. Consider the fine line between discovery and obsession.

Ethical Dilemmas Hook

"Frankenstein" raises profound ethical questions about the responsibilities of creators, the treatment of the other, and the consequences of one's actions. Explore these dilemmas and their relevance today.

Monstrosity of Society Hook

Discuss how "Frankenstein" critiques societal norms and prejudices. Analyze how the creature's rejection by society shapes his behavior and leads to his transformation into a true monster.

Gothic Elements Hook

Explore the Gothic elements in Mary Shelley's novel, from eerie settings to themes of isolation and horror. Consider how these elements contribute to the overall atmosphere and meaning of the story.

Modern Scientific Ethics Hook

Draw parallels between the novel's ethical dilemmas and contemporary debates on scientific advancements, cloning, and genetic engineering. Reflect on how "Frankenstein" remains relevant in today's world.

The Criticism of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Exploring historical events in mary shelley's frankenstein, made-to-order essay as fast as you need it.

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The Consequences of Isolation and Alienation: Analysis of Frankenstein by Shelley

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Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; Self Discovery

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How Forbidden Topics Are Transferred as Gothic in Frankenstein

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1818, Mary Shelley

Novel; Gothic Fiction, Horror Fiction, Science Fiction, Romance Novel, Soft Science Fiction

Victor Frankenstein, the monster, Robert Walton, Alphonse Frankenstein, Elizabeth Lavenza, Henry Clerval, William Frankenstein, Justine Moritz, Caroline Beaufort, Beaufort, Peasants, M. Waldman, M. Krempe, Mr. Kirwin

Shelley has been influenced by her parents, especially her father's "Enquiry Concerning Political Justice" and "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman". It also included ideas of galvanism, which have been extremely popular during the time the novel has been written.

Light and darkness, good and evil, fire, isolation, anger, unorthodox approach.

It has been the main theme of reanimating the dead, which became the pioneering theme in literary works, yet the most important and symbolic importance of this novel is the interaction between the scientist Victor Frankenstein and the nameless creature that he has brought to life. It can be summed up with the words of the monster: "I was benevolent and good, misery made me a fiend" (Shelley 90). It speaks of Victor's creating the being, yet it was the society that has created the monster.

The novel tells a story of a gifted scientist called Victor Frankenstein who manages to bring life to his own creation. The challenge is that his creation is not exactly what he has imagined. As a monster creature, he is rejected by his creator and mankind in general. The main idea is to see and explore regarding who the true monster is.

Mary Shelley was only 18 years old when she started Frankenstein . She was 20 years old when the book was published. The Frankenstein has been written in the shadow of a tragedy as Shelley has lost her newborn daughter. The most common misconception is that Frankenstein is the name of the monster, which has already become symbolic all over the world. In truth, the monster has no name at all. Frankenstein word comes from the name of the German castle not far from the Rhine River, literally meaning "Stone of the Franks''. It was the place where an odd alchemist called Konrad Dippel has tried to create an elixir of immortality. It was thought that it was Mary's father Percy Shelley who wrote the book since he also wrote the preface. The book has not been accepted by the critics and was called "absurd" and "disgusting" The full name of the book is Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus.

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” “Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.” “I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.” “Even broken in spirit as he is, no one can feel more deeply than he does the beauties of nature. The starry sky, the sea, and every sight afforded by these wonderful regions, seems still to have the power of elevating his soul from earth. Such a man has a double existence: he may suffer misery, and be overwhelmed by disappointments; yet, when he has retired into himself, he will be like a celestial spirit that has a halo around him, within whose circle no grief or folly ventures.” “How mutable are our feelings, and how strange is that clinging love we have of life even in the excess of misery!”

Although the story has been written a long time ago, it is still clear for contemporary readers because it can be related to scientific advancements, human relations, and AI. In a certain sense, it is the beginning of scientific fiction and the subject of "playing God". Mary Shelley's book is a warning to humanity and the scientists about responsibility with the main message being that science and technology can go way too far beyond the limitations. It proves that human beings must believe in the sanctity of our own being.

This book represents an essay topic for numerous academic fields from Data Science to Nursing and Education. Since it deals with ethics, responsibility, and being conscious about one's creations, it acts as the symbolic reflection of being the monster that we fear. The life of Victor Frankenstein is an example of scientists through decades, different countries and fields. It is a great warning for us all that we should not go too far.

1. Shelley, M., & Bolton, G. (2018). frankenstein. In Medicine and Literature (pp. 35-52). CRC Press. ( 2. Gigante, D. (2000). Facing the Ugly: The Case of" Frankenstein". Elh, 67(2), 565-587. ( 3. Sherwin, P. (1981). Frankenstein: Creation as catastrophe. PMLA, 96(5), 883-903. 4. Heffernan, J. A. (1997). Looking at the monster:" Frankenstein" and film. Critical Inquiry, 24(1), 133-158. ( 5. Guzman, A. (2013). International organizations and the Frankenstein problem. European Journal of International Law, 24(4), 999-1025. ( 6. Kunich, J. C. (2000). Mother Frankenstein, Doctor Nature, and the Environmental Law of Genetic Engineering. S. cal. L. rev., 74, 807. ( 7. Ginn, S. R. (2013). Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Exploring neuroscience, nature, and nurture in the novel and the films. Progress in Brain Research, 204, 169-190. 8. Holmes, R. (2016). Science fiction: The science that fed Frankenstein. 9. Barns, I. (1990). Monstrous nature or technology?: Cinematic resolutions of the ‘Frankenstein Problem’. Science as Culture, 1(9), 7-48. ( 10. Brooks, P. (1978). Godlike Science/Unhallowed Arts: Language and Monstrosity in Frankenstein. New Literary History, 9(3), 591-605. (

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research paper on frankenstein

98 Frankenstein Essay Topics & Examples

Looking for Frankenstein essay topics? You’re in the right place! Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein continues to be one of the most read books 200 years after it was written.

❓ Top 10 Frankenstein Essay Questions

🧟‍♂️ frankenstein essay themes, 👹 frankenstein essay characters, 📚 literary devices in frankenstein, 🏆 best frankenstein essay examples, 📃 good frankenstein essay topics, ✍️ frankenstein research paper topics.

In your Frankenstein essay, you might want to analyze good vs. evil characters in the novel. Another option is to write about the Monster and his role in the book. The theme of humanity is also worth focusing on. Whether you’re planning to write an argumentative or critical analysis essay on Frankenstein, this article will be helpful. Here we’ve collected Frankenstein essay questions and answers, writing tips, and top Frankenstein essay examples. Go on reading to learn more!

  • Why did Mary Shelley write “Frankenstein”?
  • Where does “Frankenstein” take place and what role does setting play in the novel?
  • What genre is “Frankenstein”?
  • Why is Frankenstein called the modern Prometeus?
  • Who is the real monster in “Frankenstein”?
  • What is the main theme of “Frankenstein”?
  • What natural phenomena influenced Frankenstein?
  • What do Victor and Walton have in common in “Frankenstein”?
  • Why does Frankenstein feel he has the right to take the life of his monster?
  • How has Victor changed by the end of “Frankenstein”?

💡 Frankenstein Essay Prompts

Writing a Frankenstein essay can be easy if you know what to write about. That’s why we gathered some ideas to get your essay started. You might want to write about the writing style of the novel, genre, symbols, characters, themes, or imagery. In general, we can divide all the topics into three categories: themes, characters, and literary devices.


The monster in Frankenstein is judged based on his grotesque appearance. Many pieces of literature have the idea of appearances as a prevalent, e.g., Little Zaches , Great Zinnober , The Hunchback of Notre Dame , etc.

If you’re assigned to write a compare and contrast essay, you might want to compare the monster and, for example, The Picture of Dorian Grey and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

In the novel, Victor Frankenstein states he was destined to create the monster. Think, if his actions were a matter of fate or he had a choice? Or is he just using destiny as an excuse? How did Victor’s actions cause his and monster’s isolation? Argue about fate in Frankenstein. Analyze how man’s choice can impact his life.


Even though that seems like everyone in Mary Shelley’s novel is seeking revenge, try to take a closer look and see the theme of mercy and compassion.

Does Victor feel sympathy for the monster he created? Does the monster seek compassion and forgiveness from society? Think about these questions when you will write your Frankenstein essay outline.

Victor Frankenstein

While reading the novel, you will see how Frankenstein’s character develops from a mad scientist who pretended to become a God to a man, feeling guilty for creating such a monster. You might want to analyze Frankenstein’s character in your paper.

The monster

Also, you can examine the monster character who is intelligent but beaten by society due to his appearance. Explore how society can be prejudiced to anyone different. You can find out examples in other literary works to compare and contrast with Frankenstein’s monster.

Point of view

If you’re still looking for more Frankenstein essay topics, consider writing about points of view in the novel. Here’s the deal: most stories stick with one narrator, while Frankenstein is an exception.

You will learn about the story through Frankenstein and the monster’s perspectives, through Walton’s letters, and a third-person narrator. You can’t be sure which story (if any) is true. And your job as a writer, join all the events together and try to find the truth.

Think, only the monster or only Frankenstein narrated this novel, how it would change?

Frankenstein essay symbolism

When you are composing your Frankenstein essay titles, think about essential symbols in the novel. If you turn out the full title of the book, you will find a connection to Greek mythology. Prometheus gave fire to humanity, thus gave them knowledge.

And, like Prometheus, Victor also wished to bring knowledge and life when he created the monster. But, at the same time, the monster also learned the power of fire and realized that it could bring danger along with the light.

Frankenstein essay irony

Another topic example you may use in your writing is the irony. Victor Frankenstein tried to create life but also brought destruction through the monster he created.

If you still have no idea of how you can incorporate irony into your essay, check our Frankenstein essay examples to help you cope with writer’s block.

  • Theme of Knowledge in Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley The milieu in which the novel, Frankenstein; The Modern Prometheus is situated served as a warning to people that the technological developments brought about by the quest for knowledge could bring about the very threat […]
  • Innocence of Frankenstein’s Monster The name of the novel as Frankenstein conceals the major occurrence of the novel, hence, masking the intentions of the writer at first.
  • “Frankenstein” vs. “Great Expectations”: Compare and Contrast The book seems to make use of previous writings like Paradise Lost one of the books that the monster reads, Shakespeare and Don Quixote for instance, the Arabian lover and the sequence of the monster’s […]
  • “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley The monster then travels to Geneva and meets a little boy called William in the woods, where he hopes that the young boy who is not yet corrupted by the views of older people and […]
  • Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” (1994) For instance, the Arctic scenery, the subtle fact that the creature can converse in the human voice and is smart and able to experience pain, the series of events related to William’s death and the […]
  • Doctor Frankenstein: Hero, Villain or Something in Between? Even though he sets out to find and destroy the monster that he created, he knows that the challenge he is facing is much great.
  • Frankenstein: Monster’s Appearance & Visual Interpretations However, to my mind, the difference in the contexts of the novel and famous film can be neglected as the monster’s appearance is repulsive enough.
  • Victor Frankenstein vs. the Creature: Compare & Contrast While discussing the main characters, one is to keep in mind that the creator of the monster Victor Frankenstein and his creature are the principal figures of the novel.
  • Roles of Education & Family in Frankenstein In the story, the family serves as one of the major socializing agents in society. The role of love in the family is an additional theme that can be depicted in the story.
  • Dr Frankenstein & His Monster: Compare & Contrast His need to exert vengeance for the death of Elizabeth and Henry proves that he had a desire for a family but chose not to work on it.
  • Macbeth & Frankenstein: Compare & Contrast In the being of the play, we assume that Macbeth is akin to the king, a loyal soldier, and a person “full of the milk of human kindness”.
  • “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” vs. “Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus” : Compare & Contrast Giving readers the sense of being immersed in the world of the Greeks and the Trojans, or in the world of any fine literature, is a goal for many writers.
  • The Role of Women in Frankenstein This shows that the woman presented to us has a strong character that enables her to deal with the enormous loss in her life.
  • Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’: Chapter 18 Analysis This paper takes a critical look at the inclusion of chapter 18 in the publication entitled ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley and its significance in enabling a better understanding of the drama in the chapter. It […]
  • Ethics as a Theme in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley From the novel, it is evident that humans drove the monster into a state of madness when they subjected it to hatred and rejection, and thus the monster’s madness emerged due to the treatment it […]
  • Frankenstein: a Deconstructive Reading In the story, Frankenstein assumes the position of the creator while the monster is the created being. As a creator who is ready to sail in the glory that his work will bring him, Frankenstein […]
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as a Tragedy Another tragedy in the novel appertains to the difficulties that faced Victor and his family after the creation of the monster.
  • The Dangers of Science in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Her assertion is that science is equal to power, the power to create. Frankenstein reads like a warning to the modern world about the dangers of science.
  • Frankenstein Attempts to Generate a Socially or Politically “Appropriate” Additionally the paper respond to the questions: does the film expel, discipline, or otherwise “manage” the elements of the film that might conflict the sanctioned meaning and whether these elements end up subverting or overwhelming […]
  • Science and Society in “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley Many scientists and scholars tried to view the problem of the connection between Frankenstein and science from the perspective of the feminist vision as the novel is written by a woman.
  • Romanticism in Frankenstein: The Use of Poetry in the Novel’s Narrative Although the dark and horrific motifs of Frankenstein may appear to contrast with the bright tones and subjects of such poetry, there is a clear connection, as established in the text, between the poetry of […]
  • Science & Nature in Frankenstein & Blade Runner A novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is a romantic work that reflects the consequences of “blind science” and human ambition, and Blade Runner by Ridley Scott depicts the industrialized society and world of the future […]
  • Frankenstein’s Historical Context: Review of “In Frankenstein’s Shadow” by Chris Baldrick Baldrick’s ‘In Frankenstein’s Shadow’ is an indispensable input to what is promptly gaining primacy as decisive and learned compromise regarding the integral nature of Mary Shelly’s narrative to the comprehension of the two concepts of […]
  • Feminism in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Mary Wollstonecraft expressly makes her stand known in advocating for the rights of the women in her novel, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, but her daughter is a bit reluctant to curve a […]
  • Motifs and Themes in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” Moreover the paper also describes the concept of education and upbringing of child through the analysis of charter of Frankenstein in the novel.
  • Romantic Era Literature: “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley The Romantic era of art and literature is a movement which started in Europe at the end of the 18th century, peaking around the time between 1800 and 1840.
  • Responsibility as a Theme in Frankenstein In sum, through the character of Victor, Shelley portrays that a person matures when he can accept responsibilities for his actions and their consequences.
  • Homosexuality in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley However, at the same time, these breaks from the traditions incited a response reaction in favor of more traditional social roles in other areas, such as the refutation of male sexual relationships to the extent […]
  • Frankenstein: Novel & Movie Comparison It also points to have a warning note to it in the subtitle against the over-ambition of the modern man and the impacts of the Industrial Revolution and French Revolution containing both enormous assurance and […]
  • Frankenstein & the Context of Enlightenment The public was becoming more and more involved in the debates being waged, particularly as newspapers and other periodicals became more prevalent with the introduction of the printing press, introducing and maintaining widespread discourse in […]
  • Frankenstein: The Theme of Birth Frankenstein is a ruthless man who can stop at nothing in his pursuit of knowledge, and when he discovered the secrets of life, he uses it to create a monster.
  • Frankenstein: Critical Reflections by Ginn & Hetherington The complexity of the novel and its meaning is often compared to the challenging and full of struggles life the writer herself.
  • Loneliness & Isolation in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein In addition to making him and his creature be isolated, Viktor does not accept the idea of duty and responsibility for his actions because of his inability to understand what it means to be responsible […]
  • “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” and “Frankenstein” In this essay, the author seeks to confirm that in the two books, the role of the devil is the same.
  • Mary Shelley’s Fears in “Frankenstein” Mary Shelley’s creation is often spoken about as a philosophical work telling about the influences of industrialization and technological progress on the society and the ideas about the values of life and death, the argument […]
  • Mary Shelley’s Monster in Frankenstein Literature Analysis Statement of the Research The underlying principle of this research undertaking is to examine the character traits of Frankenstein as a monster.
  • Themes in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Literature Analysis In connection to the previously discussed topic of the status of the female in the modern world, one can conclude that the world in which the public sphere of rationality and science becomes dominant naturally […]
  • Mary Shelley’ “Frankenstein” Story Analysis The creation is not a monster because it has human habits and affection. From the start of the story, Frankenstein’s creation is misjudged due to the way it looks.
  • Mary Shelley’s Novel Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus This is the main theme that the writer explores; in this way, she prompts the readers to think about the causes of misfortunes that struck many innocent people.
  • Social Issues in “Frankenstein” Film Frankenstein’s monster represents the mangled and depressed soldiers returning from the war only to find an economy in crisis, given that the Great Depression was in the offing after the war.
  • What Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Say About Community? Hyde was not eager to become a part of the community and he tended to avoid communication with members of the society he lived in.
  • Ethical Issues in the Novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley The paper looks at the ethical issues that the author highlights in her paper, such as the promotion of artificial life to help in the development of the discussions of this paper. Victor Frankenstein is […]
  • Stylistics of Frankenstein by Mary Shelly The name of the main character of the novel, who has created the living monster from the insentient substance, became a special sign that in a course of time widened its meaning.
  • “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus” by Shelley He studied in Ingolstadt where he discovered the secrets of life, which he uses to create a monster. He does this in secret since he is aware of the dangers of his experiment.
  • “Frankenstein and Critique of Imperialism” by Gayatri Spivak What the author sets out to do is to expound on the intensity of imperialism in the story. There are several themes in the novel, but the central questions that the article seeks to addresses […]
  • Responsibility in “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelly Despite the description of a being created by Frankenstein as a wretch and the evil that he commits, he causes the feeling of sympathy.
  • Humor and Technology in “Young Frankenstein” Film One of the debates of the day was the question of the proper role of the scientist in the contemporary age, addressed in the novel Frankenstein written by Mary Shelley.
  • Scientist’s Role in “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelly Every action and character in the novel, in this manner, is linked to and affected by the role of the scientist protagonist Victor Frankenstein.
  • Frankenstein: The Novel or the Movie? The Star Wars or the War of the Worlds did bring to life the characters that were locked in the pages of the novel.
  • The Ladies of Frankenstein: The Gender in Literature It is widely understood that Mary Shelley wrote for the female public, even though she originally wrote the novel on a wager among friends.”She fitted character and plot to the tastes of the public, especially […]
  • “Frankenstein“ the Book by Mary Shelley Though the true nature of the Monster is virtuous and kind, he is treated like a beast, like a devil and even his creator addresses to him as to “it” “For this I had deprived […]
  • Feminist Ideas in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” One of these issues and the subject of this paper is the theme of feminism in Shelley’s novel. It is time to separate unchangeable morals from local manners”.- Mary Wollstonecraft in A Vindication of the […]
  • “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley and “Blade Runner” by Ridley Scott: Comparative Analysis The texts under consideration picture the events of different periods of time and have absolutely different settings, but both Frankenstein and Blade Runner express the desire of a human to have powers of God.
  • Comparison of Victor and the Creature in ”Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley Victor Frankenstein, the main character of the story, intentionally adopts the position of God in his attempt to overcome the forces of life and death and place them directly in the hands of man.
  • Scientific Responsibility in “Frankenstein” by Shelley Shelley uses the anguish of both Frankenstein and the Monster to warn readers of the negative consequences of the pursuit of knowledge.
  • Scientist’s Role in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein The great issues of the day were the main focus of articles as well as the works of fiction that were becoming much more popular as the price of books fell.”The Victorian novel, with its […]
  • Frankenstein: The Hidden Monster Is Worse Than the Apparent One She does this by employing the first definition as it applies to the monster, but then employs the second definition to apply to the doctor, suggesting that the hidden monster is far worse than the […]
  • Frankenstein Murderer: Hero Analysis and Careful Study of the Case Knowing that the monster intended to cause yet more destruction in the world and who the monster was likely to target, Frankenstein’s deliberate refusal to do anything to help his creation comprises another instance of […]
  • Kipphardt’s “In the Matter of J. R. Oppenheimer” and Shelley’s “Frankenstein” In Kipphardt’s play, it is possible to pursue the development of Oppenheimer’s outlook on the value of the invention of the nuclear weapon.
  • Shelley’s Frankenstein: Double Vision of the Hero The rest of the novel refers to a nameless creature who is simply addressed as “the monster” [O1] and the one, who is created by Victor.
  • The Novel Protagonist Victor Frankenstein Destiny Victor did not realize that God created humanity and took care of creature, while Frankenstein sought for the success of scientific experiment: “From the beginning, the creature is unloved: Victor, in his flight and subsequent […]
  • Modern-Day Treatment of Frankenstein: New Variations of the Classic Novel Frankenstein’s monster would be a creature that would be hard to wipe out of the face of the earth and would be made of cells that are highly replicating within hours to form new monsters […]
  • Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and H.G. Wells’s “The Island of Dr. Moreau” Frankenstein and Wells’s recognize outcomes of genetic engineering and scientific experiments that lose locus of control and result in to unexpected outcomes that add a new dimension of the body of knowledge to the literature […]
  • Monsters, Reflection of Creators: Frankenstein and Mr. Hyde The research introduces the authors’ symbolic concepts of strangeness which address alienation and desire and, which happen in the unconscious state of the creator’s Victor and Dr.
  • Main Themes in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” The purpose of the presented study is to discuss the perception of moral and ethical aspects in the field of scientific discoveries by Frankenstein.
  • The Feminine Roles in the ‘Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus’ by M. Shelley Shelley develops the theme of feminism in the course of the book by revealing the evil attributes of the creature and how the women fall victim of the creature.
  • Genetics, Reproductive and Cloning Technology in “Frankenstein” If Mary Shelley was for the idea of cloning technology, I think her novel would have ended up with Frankenstein creating a female companion for the monster to compliment the theme of love in the […]
  • Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley He finds Victor and blames the creator for leaving his child alone and requires a woman to compensate for the cruel behavior.
  • Curse and Blessing in “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley The idea that knowledge can be a curse is portrayed because the creature that the protagonist, Victor Frankenstein, has created relying on his knowledge harms himself and his family.
  • The Novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley Later, the reader can understand that the main hero feels quite lonely and pays much attention to his research and studies to cover this inner loneliness caused by the loss of his beloved ones.
  • Science and Integrity in Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Human experimentation is a violation of integrity and scientific norms, notwithstanding the fact that Dr. To conclude, the topics of science and integrity in Dr.
  • Frankenstein’s Monster: Analysis The creature can be compared to a baby who tries to examine the world it lives in, and its actions are just contractions to the cruelty of the world.
  • Evaluation of “Frankenstein” Critiques The narrative of the novel uses elements of superstition, but the writer acknowledges that giving life to the lifeless matter could potentially be possible. The author clearly distinguishes between “the marvelous and the effects of […]
  • Not Born a Monster: Nature vs. Nurture and the Creature in “Frankenstein” Among the things, the novel implicitly refers to the age-old nature vs.nurture debate about whether one’s personality is defined by the inborn qualities or the upbringing one receives in the course of one’s life.
  • The Symbol of Fire in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley The fire symbolizes the ambivalent nature of the creation: one the one hand, it grants rebirth and creates life, one the other mercilessly punishes people. The fire in the novel is the ultimate power regulating […]
  • The Novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley By creating an unnatural monster and endowing life to the dead objects, Victor denied one of the main laws of nature.
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: Divine and Satanic Hetherington adequately concludes that Victor Frankenstein is a symbol of God through the creation of a new being, and the monster is a symbol of Satan due to his deeds.
  • Nature of Child in Shelley’s “Frankenstein” These behaviors include understanding love and care, the role of parents, and fears of sharing affection. Victor believes that he should reflect his parents’ love for him to the creature.
  • Conflict in “Frankenstein” Novel by Mary Shelley The novel’s main conflict revolves around negligence of responsibility in the name of ambition and the consequences of such actions. Refusing to take responsibility for producing a monster, the scientist loses his loved ones at […]
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Critical Analysis Hetherington’s “The Creator and Created Review of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” demonstrates that Shelley’s religious views and lifestyle influence Frankenstein and that Mary’s modernity may be replicated in chronicles to comprehend their meaning.
  • The Novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley: Impact of Galvanism Galvanism is the technique of resurrecting a corpse and advancing Luigi Galvani’s research on using electricity to advance and extend life.
  • Who Is More Human Than the Monster of Frankenstein? By opposing the monster created by a scientist and the creator, Victor Frankenstein, the author alludes to the true meaning of being a human beyond the mere form of existence but rather living by virtues.
  • Social Topics of Shelley’s Frankenstein Novel The main characters of Frankenstein are Victor and Robert, who constantly seek adventures and want to discover the unique parts of the world.
  • Romantic Characteristics in “Frankenstein” In the novel, there are at least two features of Romanticism that are not discussed in the overview: the illustration of grotesque and the theme of individual versus society.
  • Frankenstein’s Search of Companionship in Shelley’s Novel Frankenstein’s point is to establish his social life through the fulfillment of his ambition, and the monster seeks the unconditional love that a family can provide.
  • The Novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley: Critical Analysis The themes of creation and vengeance are illustrated to give a clear perspective of Mary’s main aim in writing her book.
  • Responsibility in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Although Victor Frankenstein seems to be responsible for the wretch’s behavior due to his egoism, departure, and fears, the impact of the creature’s individuality cannot be ignored in the story.
  • Ethics of Discovery in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” The extent and horrific nature of the experiments encouraged the international community to prohibit scientific and medical experiments that cause harm to people in a treaty that would be called the Geneva Convention.
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IvyPanda . 2023. "98 Frankenstein Essay Topics & Examples." December 6, 2023.

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IvyPanda . "98 Frankenstein Essay Topics & Examples." December 6, 2023.

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‘Lisa Frankenstein’ Review: When Mom Finds Out, You’re So Dead

A little too enamored of its own references, this teen horror-comedy feels a bit misshapen but still delivers some light fun.

  • Share full article

In a bedroom, a pasty man with long hair, in 19th-century period dress, is gripped by a woman with long frizzy hair.

By Alissa Wilkinson

Ever since Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein” at age 19, it has functioned as a remarkably versatile Rorschach test, prescient in ways its author could hardly have anticipated. Usually it’s interpreted as a story about hubris, about man playing God and reaping the consequences. But you can just as easily read it as a lucid explication of Rousseau’s ideas about human nature, or as a slippery narrative told by a not-quite-reliable narrator who’s trying to get away with murder.

On the other hand, Guillermo del Toro, one of our greatest contemporary horror directors, has described “Frankenstein” as “the quintessential teenage book,” full of angst and curiosity about becoming an adult. And though he wasn’t talking about “Lisa Frankenstein” specifically, he might as well have been. Shelley’s novel lends itself well to teen horror-comedy, and the screenwriter Diablo Cody — who wrote “Juno” and “Jennifer’s Body,” as well as the book for the youth-focused “Jagged Little Pill” Broadway show — seized on that angle. The result is a very, very loose adaptation of “Frankenstein” that doesn’t draw on much from the original. Directed by Zelda Williams in her feature debut, this is instead the familiar story of a loner finding love in an unlikely place.

Perhaps you spent the late 1980s and early ’90s doing something other than being a school-age girl. So it’s worth noting that the title of the film is a nod to a company, named for its founder, that produced brightly colored stickers with characters like unicorns and kittens and bears that eventually made their way to the broader school supply set. (In grade school circa 1992, my friends and I yearned for Lisa Frank Trapper Keepers, the true marker of cool.)

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I was a little bummed out to discover that, despite the title, the nostalgic brand never really shows up in the movie — in fact, the vibe isn’t Lisa Frank-esque at all. But it’s OK, because “Lisa Frankenstein” is girly-gothy, in a way that’s a lot of fun once you get used to it. In fact, the best thing about the film is its production design, which takes familiar trappings from movies of the era (I thought of everything from “Poltergeist” to “Edward Scissorhands” to “Pretty in Pink” to “Weird Science,” itself a loose “Frankenstein” adaptation) and just dials up the color temperature a few degrees. It’s a pastiche crossed with a tribute, complete with references to slasher films, Cinderella, loner high school flicks and a makeover montage. Plus, of course, “Frankenstein.”

The movie itself leaves a little more to be desired. The plot is fairly predictable, albeit in a way that feels distinctly of its era — a bit of a disappointment from a writer who has in the past played more boldly with expectations around teen girls. Lisa (Kathryn Newton) lives with her father (Joe Chrest), her stepmother (Carla Gugino) and her cheerleader stepsister (Liza Soberano) in the suburbs. She misses her dead mother desperately, but is trying to get on with life at her new school, where she’s even spotted a cute guy to crush on. Yet her true love, a 19th-century dead guy, is in the graveyard, where she hangs out to make grave rubbings and daydream.

You can kind of see where this is going: The 19th-century dead guy is not going to stay that way. One night, he rises (played, in suitably ghastly makeup, by Cole Sprouse), and they fall in love. Lisa has never met such a gentlemanly boy — the fact that he doesn’t really talk doesn’t hurt — and she starts, at last, to feel understood.

Cody gets a little subversive with it all — Lisa’s stepsister, Taffy, for instance, is not at all what this kind of movie usually serves up, and that feels refreshing. But the rest is pretty predictable from the start, and so it starts to wear a little thin after a while, a title in search of a story. Even with all of the John Hughes DNA here, the characters are more one-dimensional. Williams’s directorial timing lags, undercutting the wit that Newton and Soberano bring to their characters. And I’m not sure if I’m supposed to feel sympathy for Lisa and her love interest, but the mishmash of references starts to get in the way.

Yet it’s not that “Lisa Frankenstein” has nothing to recommend it. Brief, pleasant and fun to look at, the movie is not interested in anything more than love and being understood, and in that way it’s a great callback to teen romances from an earlier era. If we could drag Mary Shelley out of her own graveyard, she just might be amused by this.

Lisa Frankenstein Rated PG-13 for typical teen shenanigans and dead people. Running time: 1 hour 41 minutes. In theaters.

Alissa Wilkinson is a Times movie critic. She’s been writing about movies since 2005. More about Alissa Wilkinson

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  1. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: Essay & Research Paper Samples ...

    On this page, you can find a collection of free sample essays and research papers that focus on Frankenstein. Literary analysis, compare & contrast essays, papers devoted to Frankenstein 's characters & themes, and much more. You are welcome to use these texts for inspiration while you work on your own Frankenstein essay.

  2. Why issues raised in Frankenstein still matter 200 years later

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    Frankenstein essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Frankenstein. Egotism, Personal Glory, and the Pursuit for Immortality. Frankenstein and the Essence Of the Romantic Quest.

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  19. 109 Outstanding Frankenstein Essay Topics

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    Ever since Mary Shelley wrote "Frankenstein" at age 19, it has functioned as a remarkably versatile Rorschach test, prescient in ways its author could hardly have anticipated.