26th February 2018

Frankenstein Chapters 1-7

Activity one: The Plot Timeline            Add to the timeline by supplying a piece of evidence to support the event that is being described.

The timeline is on a separate post.

Activity Two: New Language. In the opening passage of chapter 1, students should identify words they do not understand. They should make a list of these words on their blogs and write down what they THINK they word means. After this, they should grab a dictionary (or Google it) and compare what they thought with what the word is defined as. It would be useful to correct their work on the blog leaving both definitions up so we can see the difference. Explain how you came to the definition you did. What words around the mystery word did you know and use to make your guess?

Genevese guessed definition: People who belong to Geneva, Switzerland. I guessed this because Geneva is where Frankenstein is from therefore like Chinese is to China, Genevese is someone who originates in Geneva.

Genevese real definition: A native or inhabitant of Geneva. [ from 17th c.]

Syndics guessed definition: Those who belong to a syndicate. Rough guess as syndic may be short for syndicate.

Syndics real definition: a government official in various countries.

Indefatigable guessed definition: Something that isn’t affected by anything else. The surrounding sentence the word belongs to is, “…knew him for his integrity and indefatigable attention to public business.”, the words suggest his attention to public business won’t change.

Indefatigable real definition: Persisting tirelessly (of a person or their efforts) .

Deplored guessed definition: To dislike or disagree with. The sentence that the word belongs to, “He bitterly deplored the false pride which led his friend to a conduct so little worthy of the affection that united them.”, suggests that he despises the false pride his friend holds.

Deplored real definition: feel or express strong condemnation of (something).

Sustenance guessed definition: Something to live off. The word sustenance is contained inside the sentence, ” but it was sufficient to provide him with sustenance for some months”, and the definition is hinted when Beaufort provides himself with a small sum of money to “live” off or sustain himself for some months.

Sustenance real definition: The maintaining of someone or something in life or existence.

Adversity guessed definition: To be different and avert from the typical career path. The sentence the word is contained in, “But Caroline Beaufort possessed a mind of an uncommon mould, and her courage rose to support her in her adversity.”, suggests Catherine Beaufort is different, comparing her to an uncommon mold.

Adversity real definition: A difficult or unpleasant situation.

Pittance guessed definition: To realize something bad. The word pittance reminds me of pitted which is to be set in conflict.

Pittance real definition: A very small or inadequate amount of money.

Scarcely guessed definition: To do something with the bare minimum. Scarcity means to be in short supply therefore scarcely must be to do something with short supply.

Scarcely real definition: Only just; almost not.

Activity Three: Victor Frankenstein, A Gothic Protagonist? Students should use the criteria from our blog post on the gothic protagonist to create a table. In this table, they should list traits, actions and comments from Victor Frankenstein that they believe make him fit into the six descriptors of a gothic protagonist. They should supply evidence to support their ideas in each section of the table.
Descriptor Traits Actions Comments
1. Has distinct contrasting qualities to their character. He cuts up bodies but then feels guilty about it. ” So deeply was I engrossed in my occupation. The leaves of that year had withered before my work drew near to a close;”
2. Usually of a high social rank or holds a position of power.
3. Often surrounded by devices that foreshadow something negative. Negative foreshadow takes form of a train, storm and a river eg. “train of my ideas” and “avert the storm”
4. Driven by strong emotions rather than logic or reason
5. Generally secretive or surrounded by an air of mystery. Lonely, reserved and generally keeps to himself. Victor decides to keep the Frankenstein’s monster project a secret from others.
6. Has a need to know Nosy, “has a thirst for knowledge”, intensely curious and ambitious Decides to study the human anatomy in university in order to develop understanding of how to build Frankenstein’s monster.
Activity Four: Tone and Mood. Refreshing their memories by looking at our blog post about tone and mood students should explain what tone AND what mood they believe is being developed in the passage below. They should reference specific sentence structures and language choices made by the author to support their answer. This should be published on their personal blog.

Activity five: In chapter 3 and 4, there are many instances of foreshadowing. They should identify three examples of foreshadowing in chapters 3 and 4 and explain what they think the author is hinting at when she uses this device. Students should pay close attention to any language devices (metaphors, irony, simile etc.) and the vocabulary choices when discussing their examples. This should be posted on their personal blogs.

Example one: “The next morning I delivered my letters of introduction and paid a visit to some of the principle professors. Chance – or rather the evil influence, the Angel of Destruction, which asserted omnipotent sway over me from the moment I turned my reluctant steps from my father’s door – led me first to M. Krempe, professor of natural philosophy.”

Personification is used to foreshadow eventual destruction. Chance is personified as evil in this passage, an angel who looks over Frankenstein, waiting to cause destruction over his life, which is hinted at being inevitable. Chance controls him like a puppet from the moment Frankenstein leaves home and asserts force over him while he visits the professors to make sure he is on a negative path. He is no longer in control and by giving chance or fate possessing and controlling abilities, the author hints that this evil influence is walking Frankenstein into eventual darkness and destruction.

Example two: “Learn from me, if not by my precepts, atleast by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.”

An analogy is used to explain the limits of knowledge in which a man should be happy with and foreshadows that by pushing the limits of science and what mankind knows of, Frankenstein will have entered a dangerous outer limit that he shouldn’t have crossed and it will result in an eventual unhappiness with his decision to create something greater than his nature allows. The analogy is that one is happier knowing that their town is the world in its entirety rather than knowing that there is a big wide world full of problems and issues. The same is with knowledge and if you know little (like when you are a child) you become naive and curious and once you know too much of the world and its darker elements you start to realize the dangers of being alive. He is talking to Walton in this passage when saying don’t learn from my mottoes in life, and if you can’t do that and are inspired to be like me, learn from my bad decisions.

Example three: “But my enthusiasm was checked by my anxiety, and I appeared rather like one doomed by slavery to toil in the mines, or any other unwholesome trade than an artist occupied by his favourite employment. Every night I was oppressed by a slow fever, and I became nervous to a most painful degree; the fall of a leaf startled me, and I shunned my fellow creatures as if I had been guilty of a crime. Sometimes I grew alarmed at the wreck I perceived that I had become; the energy of my purpose alone sustained me: my labours would soon end, and I believed that exercise and amusement would then drive away incipient disease; and I promised myself both of these when my creation should be complete.”

An analogy is again used to describe the dangerous affect of obsession and dedication to one thing. Obsession is like a painful fever or a disease and Frankenstein believes that the more he labours to this obsession the closer he is to driving away this disease and by completing his creation he will be rid of this disease that consumes his life so much. This is foreshadowing as by being oppressed by this slow fever, he will eventually succumb to the wounds caused by this fever or disease and because of this obsession he will die as result.

Activity Six: The Age of Enlightenment. As Frankenstein was published in 1818 and the story is set around 100 years prior to this, students need to have an understanding of the world our characters and author lived in. They also need to have an understanding of the type of world gothic fiction emerged from. Students should conduct research into the time period known as The Enlightenment. They should look into areas such as politics, religion, technological advancement and science, gender roles, and society and everyday life. They should look to select 5 key areas to research. On their blogs, they should set up a new post that has their five headings in it. During their research phase, they should keep a record of what websites they visit or any material they read on this post. At the end of the research phase, students should write a paragraph explaining their understanding of each of their chosen areas. They should look to be as informative as possible and point out any connections between their research and the material we have read in Frankenstein so far. They should be aware that their classmates may use their research to help them gain better understanding in areas they did not look into.

Politics: This time was also a great advancement in politics. For example the English monarchy was made. The concept of democracy ‘a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives’ was put forth. Mary Shelley was wary of political issues during the time of writing this novel, as no matter what it would upset people by having such bold statements. Politics became much more significant to society during the age of enlightenment.

Religion:The church was still powerful during the age of enlightenment particularly the catholic church. Christianity was the main religion in this time period however there was a lot that religion could not explain which is why science became so popular. More and more people were explaining things that religion couldn’t explain. This was causing a lot of people to stop believing in religion and instead believe in science. Frankenstein was an atheist and believed in science over religion, though the protagonist doesn’t believe in religion, the author uses many religious references such as God, Satan and there is a direct comparison of the monster to Adam. Any aspect of religion that was not rational should be rejected.

Technological Advancement: The invention of the flying shuttle (weaves fabrics) made it possible to thread bigger things and at a faster rate. The invention of the locomotive allowed fast transport of large goods and a new method of transportation. The steam engine allowed a new source of energy to be made in the form of steam as well as the water wheel which converted running water into energy. As well as this energy and electricity itself became more advanced, paving the way more better communication.

Science: In the age of enlightenment the idea of science was starting to take off. Things that couldn’t be explained by religion were starting to be questioned. This is when famous scientists such as Isaac Newton and Galileo, Kepler and Leibniz started to discover new things. For instance laws of motion.Frankenstein was determined to be one of these famous scientists rising to fame during this age, and looked up to these figures as a motivation for his studies. In this age more people were starting to believe in science as opposed to religion. 

Gender Roles: During the age of enlightenment, females were thought to be of lesser worth compared to males.Their work was often overlooked or claimed by males of a higher social class. Men had more opportunities with education, work etc. This means Frankenstein is automatically an of a higher social class, just by being a male thus being the second descriptor of a gothic protagonist. The world was very sexist in this time period.

Activity Six: The Introduction- Read the Introduction that is in the books at the back of the classroom. It is written by Mary Shelley for the 1831 edition of the novel. You will find it after the “Note on the Text”. After reading it through, write a blog post answering the following questions (you should be able to write about a paragraph per question):
  • What does Shelley say about the novel’s origins?
  • What parallels can be drawn between the ‘birth’ of a monster and the ‘birth’ of Shelley’s novel?                               Mary Shelley was a country girl, living in Scotland for the majority of her childhood, enjoying the art of imagining and writing stories (her parents were both writers). She spent considerable time in the blank and dreary northern shores of the Tay, neat Dundee, where she is likely inspired to write her gothic tales. Shelley, like the main protagonist of Frankenstein had tragedy in her life when her mother (Mary Wollstonecraft) died ten days after her birth, in 1997. This effect of her absence resulted in her father (William Godwin) to be remarried. The inspiration for Victor Frankenstein’s desperate desire to reanimate life likely came from Mary Shelley’s young adulthood life. At 16, she married Percy Shelley and gave birth to her first daughter in 1815. The child tragically died 2 weeks later, resulting in great devastation in the Shelley family. She dreamed of a world where her child was revived, like the monster which Victor created, thus paralleling Victor’s obsession with creating his monster. Further tragedy would later occur after Percy and Mary had another child ten years later when in 1822 Percy had drowned. Much before this occurred however, the infamous ghost story contest occurred, the event contributing to the “birth” of Shelley’s novel and Frankensteinian mythology. Mary and Percy Shelley, lord Byron and Dr John Polidori were staying at Villa Diodati in Switzerland in June 1816 with the rain confiding them inside they begun reading German into French ghost stories. Byron then challenges the group to tell a ghost story. While Percy and Byron discussed the nature of the principal of life (philosophical doctrines and how Erasmus Darwin brought Vermicelli to life), Shelley begun writing her novel (at the time meant to be a short ghost story) in the bleak sides of the wood less mountains. the main source of inspiration during the ghost story contest for Shelley however was a nightmare she had. “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.” Still frightened by the nightmare, she awakes inspired to write her ghost story. This parallels the element of foreshadowing in the novel, Victor hinting at the creation of his monster early in the novel. This nightmare foreshadows the birth of Shelley’s novel (acting like a prophecy), acting like an embryo or one of the key dead body parts she needs to conceive her novel. Other than his nightmare, Shelley was inspired by scientists such as Erasmus Darwin, Humphry Davy and Luigi Galvani, who all conducted experiments involving reanimating the dead. The discussions between Percy and Byron reminded her of these inspirations. This parallels Victor because like Shelley, he was inspired by famous scientists such as Isaac Newton and Albertus Magnus. Percy then urged Shelley to develop this idea at a greater length, it now becoming her “offspring of happy days” whom she parented and nurtured to grow into the famous gothic fiction novel beloved worldwide, unlike Victor who failed to parent his monster. The novel concentrates upon images of fear and monstrosity at the expense of other issues, with themes of abandonment, responsibility and the effect of the environment (nature vs nurture).
Activity Six: Concepts and Influences- Find out more about the concepts/ influences listed, considering in what ways they might be relevant to the story of Frankenstein. On your blog, write a short paragraph about each concept/influence and its relevance to Frankenstein. The concepts and influences are alchemy, galvanism, grave-robbing, dissection, fantasmagoria, “The Vampyre”, John Polidori and Villa Diodati and the ghost story challenge.



Grave- robbing:



“The Vampyre”:

John Pollidori:

Activity Seven: Express your thoughts, reactions and questions about the novel, particularly the ending of the novel.

I was very invested in the intense and fast pace of the final chapter and was shocked when the monster appeared to have admitted his wrongs and decides to comply with the now dead Victor Frankenstein’s demands and presumably die. I enjoyed the monster as a character and was convinced that Victor was the true monster of the novel, failing as a parent and author to his creation and he ultimately was the cause of so much tragedy. In the end Ernest and Walton are the only survivors of the novel, everyone having been killed or died as a result of the monster’s wraith… which was caused by Victor’s neglect to love him.


  • Is it still possible for the monster to be alive at the end of the novel and possibly find a mate to develop a new advanced species with?
  • How did Victor manage to get the letters between Felix and Saphie to provide as evidence for his tale?
  • How does Victor die? Did he succumb to hypothermia?
  • How does the monster manage to hear the conversations between the De Lacey family? Does he have superhuman hearing?

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Hi Lucas, it looks like you have thought really carefully about the events you have added to your timeline. You have selected relevant evidence from the novel to illustrate the events you have outlined.

    You have an in depth review of the introduction to the novel and have clearly researched the author.

    Ensure you finish of the final task before the end of the term.


Respond now!

About Lucas

"Writing gives you freedom to create your own world, your rules, your characters and your imagination"