Frankenstein: Essay Samples

frankenstein research essay

Welcome to Frankenstein Essay Samples page prepared by our editorial team! Here you’ll find a number of great ideas for your Frankenstein essay! Absolutely free essays & research papers on Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Examples of all topics and paper genres.

📝 Frankenstein: Essay Samples List

Frankenstein , by Mary Shelley , is famous all over the world. School and college students are often asked to write about the novel. 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.

  • Feminism in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Genre: Critical Analysis Essay Words: 2280 Focused on: Frankenstein ’s Themes Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein, the Monster, Elizabeth Lavenza , Justine Moritz
  • Frankenstein’s Historical Context: Review of “In Frankenstein’s Shadow” by Chris Baldrick Genre: Critical Writing Words: 1114 Focused on: Historical Context of Frankenstein Characters mentioned: the Monster
  • Science & Nature in Frankenstein & Blade Runner Genre: Essay Words: Focused on: Themes of Frankenstein , Compare & Contrast Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein, the Monster
  • Romanticism in Frankenstein: the Use of Poetry in the Novel’s Narrative Genre: Essay Words: 1655 Focused on: Literary analysis of Frankenstein Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein, Henry Clerval
  • The Dangers of Science in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Genre: Essay Words: 1098 Focused on: Themes of Frankenstein Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein, the Monster
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as a Tragedy Genre: Essay Words: 540 Focused on: Literary analysis of Frankenstein Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein: a Deconstructive Reading Genre: Essay Words: 2445 Focused on: Literary analysis of Frankenstein Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein, the Monster
  • Ethics as a Theme in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Genre: Essay Words: 901 Focused on: Themes of Frankenstein Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein, the Monster
  • Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’: Chapter 18 Analysis Genre: Essay Words: 567 Focused on: Literary analysis of Frankenstein Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein, the Monster, Elisabeth Lavenza
  • The Role of Women in Frankenstein Genre: Essay Words: 883 Focused on: Frankenstein Characters Characters mentioned: Caroline Beaufort, Elizabeth Lavenza, Justine Moritz
  • On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer vs. Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus: Compare & Contrast Genre: Essay Words: 739 Focused on: Compare & Contrast Characters mentioned: the Monster
  • Macbeth & Frankenstein: Compare & Contrast Genre: Essay Words: 2327 Focused on: Compare & Contrast Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein, the Monster
  • Dr. Frankenstein & His Monster: Compare & Contrast Genre: Research Paper Words: 1365 Focused on: Compare & Contrast, Frankenstein Characters Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein, the Monster
  • Education vs. Family in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Genre: Essay Words: 1652 Focused on: Themes of Frankenstein Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein
  • Victor Frankenstein vs. the Creature: Compare & Contrast Genre: Research Paper Words: 1104 Focused on: Compare & Contrast, Frankenstein Characters Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein, the Monster
  • Frankenstein: Monster’s Appearance & Visual Interpretations Genre: Essay Words: 812 Focused on: Frankenstein Characters Characters mentioned: the Monster
  • Doctor Frankenstein: Hero, Villain, or Something in Between? Genre: Essay Words: 897 Focused on: Frankenstein Characters Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: 1994 Movie Analysis Genre: Essay Words: 1084 Focused on: Compare & Contrast Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein, the Monster, Elizabeth Lavenza
  • Frankenstein vs. Great Expectations: Compare & Contrast Genre: Essay Words: 2540 Focused on: Compare & Contrast, Themes of Frankenstein Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein, the Monster, Robert Walton
  • Innocence of Frankenstein’s Monster Genre: Term Paper Words: 2777 Focused on: Frankenstein Characters Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein, the Monster, Robert Walton
  • Knowledge as the Main Theme in Frankenstein Genre: Term Paper Words: 2934 Focused on: Themes of Frankenstein Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein, the Monster, Robert Walton, Henry Clerval, Elisabeth Lavenza, Willian Frankenstein
  • Responsibility as a Theme in Frankenstein Genre: Essay Words: 619 Focused on: Themes of Frankenstein Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein
  • Homosexuality in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Genre: Research Paper Words: 2340 Focused on: Themes of Frankenstein Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein, the Monster, Henry Clerval
  • Frankenstein & the Context of Enlightenment Genre: Historical Context of Frankenstein Words: 1458 Focused on: Compare & Contrast Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein, the Monster
  • Frankenstein: the Theme of Birth Genre: Essay Words: 1743 Focused on: Themes of Frankenstein Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein, the Monster
  • Frankenstein: Critical Reflections by Ginn & Hetherington Genre: Essay Words: 677 Focused on: Compare & Contrast Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein, the Monster
  • Loneliness & Isolation in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Genre: Essay Words: 609 Focused on: Themes of Frankenstein Characters mentioned: Victor Frankenstein
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Frankenstein : A virtual issue from Literature and Theology

Guest edited by jo carruthers and alana m.vincent.

frankenstein research essay

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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Frankenstein Reflects the Hopes and Fears of Every Scientific Era

The novel is usually considered a cautionary tale for science, but its cultural legacy is much more complicated.

An illustration of a nude person sitting on the floor while another flees the room.

The bicentennial of Frankenstein started early. While Mary Shelley’s momentous novel was published anonymously in 1818, the commemorations began last year to mark the dark and stormy night on Lake Geneva when she (then still Mary Godwin, having eloped with her married lover Percy Shelley) conceived what she called her “hideous progeny.”

In May, MIT Press will publish a new edition of the original text, “annotated for scientists, engineers, and creators of all kinds.” As well as the explanatory and expository notes throughout the book, there are accompanying essays by historians and other writers that discuss Frankenstein ’s relevance and implications for science and invention today.

It’s a smart idea, but treating Frankenstein as a meditation on the responsibilities of the scientist, and the dangers of ignoring them, is bound to give only a partial view of Shelley’s novel. It’s not just a book about science. Moreover, focusing on Shelley’s text doesn’t explore the scope of the Frankenstein myth itself, including its message for scientists.

This is one of those stories everyone knows even without having read the original: Man makes monster; monster runs amok; monster kills man. It may come as a surprise to discover that the creator, not the creature, is called Frankenstein, and that the original creature was not the shambling, grunting, green-faced lunk played by Boris Karloff in the 1931 movie but an articulate soul who meditates on John Milton’s Paradise Lost . Such misconceptions might do little justice to Shelley, but as the critic Chris Baldick has written, “That series of adaptations, allusions, accretions, analogues, parodies, and plain misreadings with follows upon Mary Shelley’s novel is not just a supplementary component of the myth; it is the myth.”

In any case, the essays in the MIT edition have surprisingly little to say about the reproductive and biomedical technologies of our age, such as assisted conception, tissue engineering, stem-cell research, cloning, genetic manipulation, and “ synthetic human entities with embryo-like features ”—the remarkable potential “organisms” with a Frankensteinian name.

That feels like a missed opportunity. Frankenstein is still frequently the first point of reference for media reports of such cutting-edge developments, just as it was when human IVF became a viable technique in the early 1970s. The “Franken” label is now a lazy journalistic cliché for a technology you should distrust, or at least regard as “weird”: Frankenfoods, Frankenbugs. The “wisdom of repugnance,” the phrase coined by the U.S. bioethicist Leon Kass and which informed the decision of the George W. Bush administration to pose drastic restrictions on federally funded stem-cell research in 2001, harked back directly to Mary Shelley’s novel.

Let’s be in no doubt: Frankenstein is one of the most extraordinary achievements in English literature. It’s not flawlessly written, the construction is sometimes awkward—yet it is a profound and unsettling vision, deeply informed about the science and philosophy of its day. That it was written not by an established and experienced author but by a teenager at a very difficult period in her life feels almost miraculous. It’s in fact those troubled circumstances and those flaws that have helped the book to persist, to keep on stimulating debate, and to continue attracting adaptations and variations—some good, many bad, some plain execrable.

It’s too often suggested—some of the commentaries in the MIT edition repeat the idea—that Frankenstein is a warning about a hubristic, overreaching science that unleashes forces it cannot control. “Victor’s error is failing to think harder about the potential repercussions of his work,” writes the bioethicist Josephine Johnston. To Mary Shelley’s biographer Anne Mellor, the novel “portrays the penalties of violating Nature.” This makes it sound as though the attempt to create an “artificial person” from scavenged body parts was always going to end badly: that it was a crazy, doomed project from the start.

But Mary Shelley takes some pains to show that the real problem is not what Victor Frankenstein made, but how he reacted to it. “Now that I had finished,” he says, “the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.” He rejects the “hideous wretch” he has created, but nothing about that seems inevitable. What would have happened if Victor had instead lived up to his responsibilities by choosing to nurture his creature?

One might answer that the result would have been a pretty dull and short novel. But I’m not so sure. Imagine the story of Victor struggling to have the creature accepted by a society that shunned it as vile and unnatural. We would then be reading a book about social prejudice and our preconceptions of nature—indeed, about the kind of prospect one can easily imagine for a human born by cloning today (if such as thing were scientifically possible and ethically permissible). The moral and philosophical landscape it might have explored would be no less rich.

That Victor did not do this—that he spurned his creation the moment he had made it, merely because he judged it ugly—means that, to my mind, the conclusion we should reach is the one that the speculative-fiction author Elizabeth Bear articulates in the new volume. It is for Victor’s “failure of empathy and his moral cowardice,” Bear says—for his overweening egotism and narcissism—that we should think ill of him, and not because of what he discovered or created.

Mary Shelley, however, gives her readers mixed messages. What she shows us is a man behaving badly, but what she seems to tell us is that he is tragic and sympathetic. All of her characters think so well of “poor, dear Victor” that we’re given pause. Even Robert Walton, the ship’s captain who finds Victor pursuing his creature in the Arctic and whose letters describing that encounter begin and end the book, sees in him a noble, pitiable figure, “amiable and attractive” despite his wrecked and emaciated state. Frankenstein’s only critic is his creature.

This could be seen as a rather exquisite piece of authorial artifice, an early example of the unreliable narrator. It seems more likely to me that Shelley herself wasn’t clear what to make of Victor. In her revised edition of 1831, she emphasized the Faustian aspect of the tale, writing in her introduction that she wanted to show how “supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.” In other words, it was preordained that the creature would be hideous, and inevitable that its creator would recoil “horror-stricken.” That wasn’t then a character failing of Victor’s.

This idea invites the interpretation that Mellor offers in the new edition: “Nature prevents Victor from constructing a normal human being: His unnatural method of reproduction spawns an unnatural being, a freak.”

She sees this as a feminist interpretation (Nature being, in her view, feminine and inviolable), I feel that to the extent that Shelley’s book supports a feminist reading, it is not this, and to the extent that one might draw this interpretation, it is not a feminist one. To condemn Victor for violating “Mother Nature” with his “unnatural being” seems plain disturbing in the 21st century. Certainly it bears out the complaint of the British biologist J. B. S. Haldane in 1924:

There is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god. But if every physical and chemical invention is a blasphemy, every biological invention is a perversion.

By accepting that Victor’s work is inherently perverted and bound to end hideously, Mellor’s accusation leaves us wondering what exactly is meant by “unnatural.” Which real-life interventions are guaranteed to produce a freak? Might that be so with IVF, as its early detractors insisted? Is it the case for so-called “three-parent babies” made by mitochondrial transplantation, a misleading term apparently invented for the very purpose of insisting on its unnaturalness? Would the first human clone be the next “unnatural freak,” if ever that technology becomes possible and desirable?

“Unnatural” is not a neutral description but a morally laden term, and dangerous for that reason: Its use threatens to prejudice or shut down discussion before it begins.

There’s something of this rush to judgment also in the commentary of Charles Robinson, the Frankenstein scholar who introduces the new annotated text. Speaking about the evils released from Pandora’s box by Prometheus’s brother Epimetheus in Greek myth—Shelley subtitled her novel “The Modern Prometheus”—Robinson says that such terrible consequences of careless tampering are reflected in “the pesticide DDT, the atom bomb, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl,” and the British government’s allowing a stem-cell scientist to perform genome editing “despite objections that ethical issues were being ignored.”

But each of these modern developments in fact involved a complex and case-specific chain of events, and incurs a delicate balance of pros and cons. Some, such as the Chernobyl nuclear accident, had rather little to do with the intrinsic ethics of the underlying technology, but were a consequence of particular political and bureaucratic decisions. To imply that they unambiguously show a lack of foresight (Epimetheus’s name means “afterthought”) or indeed of responsibility on the part of the scientists whose work made them possible would be to cheapen the discourse and to evade the real issues.

The decision on genome editing, meanwhile—presumably this refers to the granting of a license by the U.K. Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority for gene-editing of very early stage, non-viable embryos—supports medical research that might, among other things, help to reduce rates of miscarriage. Such work will never be free of ethical objections raised by those opposed to all research on human embryos. Without a doubt, Frankenstein asks challenging questions about research like this that touches on interventions in human life. But to suggest that it warns us to abjure such work doesn’t do Mary Shelley justice.

What, then, does the story of Victor Frankenstein’s doomed and misguided quest have to tell us about modern science in general, and technological intervention in life in particular? I think that, to find an answer, we needn’t try too hard to discern Shelley’s own intentions. Her text arose not out of a conscious desire to tell a moral tale—not, at any rate, one about science—but literally out of a nightmare. In her preface to the 1831 edition she described how the “ghastly image” of a “pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together” came to her as she tried to sleep after listening to conversations between Byron and Percy Shelley deep into the night, concerning the “principle of life.”

That retrospective account surely included some embellishment, but it seems fair to accept Shelley’s assertion that “my imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me.” The impact and enduring fascination of her novel depend on the author not having worked too hard to impose a meaning on the “ghastly image” she dreamed, to resolve the conflicts that it evoked in her, or to maintain a consistent attitude as she reworked her book.

So we can draw Luddite conclusions if that’s what we look for, just as we can read into the text Shelley’s fears about childbirth, her frustration and anger at her father’s rejection, political worries about the destructive potential of the inchoate mob, or an examination of male terror of female sexual and procreative independence.

But it surely matters at least as much now not just what Frankenstein is about but what the Frankenstein myth is about—what as a culture we have made of this wonderful, undisciplined book, whether that is Hollywood’s insistence that the artificial being be a stiff-limbed quasi-robotic mute or more contemporary efforts to tell a story that is sympathetic to the creature’s point of view. Frankenstein , after all, was never intended as an instruction manual to the bioethicist or the engineer. It is better seen as a catalyst, even an agent provocateur , that lures us into disclosing what we truly hope and fear.

The ambiguity of the book is an essential feature of myth, and all modern myths come from a similar fertile lack of authorial control. That isn’t a failing. Everyone loves a well-crafted story, but those crafted partly by the unconscious and delivered to us misshapen and unfinished hold a particular potential to be reanimated, time after time, to fit and to dramatize the anxieties of the age. Like Victor, we make Frankenstein in our own image.

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Research essay: a ‘monster’ and its humanity.

frankenstein research essay

Professor of English Susan J. Wolfson is the editor of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: A Longman Cultural Edition and co-editor, with Ronald Levao, of The Annotated Frankenstein.  

Published in January 1818, Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus has never been out of print or out of cultural reference. “Facebook’s Frankenstein Moment: A Creature That Defies Technology’s Safeguards” was the headline on a New York Times business story Sept. 22 — 200 years on. The trope needed no footnote, although Kevin Roose’s gloss — “the scientist Victor Frankenstein realizes that his cobbled-together creature has gone rogue” — could use some adjustment: The Creature “goes rogue” only after having been abandoned and then abused by almost everyone, first and foremost that undergraduate scientist. Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and CEO Sheryl Sandberg, attending to profits, did not anticipate the rogue consequences: a Frankenberg making. 

The original Frankenstein told a terrific tale, tapping the idealism in the new sciences of its own age, while registering the throb of misgivings and terrors. The 1818 novel appeared anonymously by a down-market press (Princeton owns one of only 500 copies). It was a 19-year-old’s debut in print. The novelist proudly signed herself “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley” when it was reissued in 1823, in sync with a stage concoction at London’s Royal Opera House in August. That debut ran for nearly 40 nights; it was staged by the Princeton University Players in May 2017. 

In a seminar that I taught on Frankenstein in various contexts at Princeton in the fall of 2016 — just weeks after the 200th anniversary of its conception in a nightmare visited on (then) Mary Godwin in June 1816 — we had much to consider. One subject was the rogue uses and consequences of genomic science of the 21st century. Another was the election season — in which “Frankenstein” was a touchstone in the media opinions and parodies. Students from sciences, computer technology, literature, arts, and humanities made our seminar seem like a mini-university. Learning from each other, we pondered complexities and perplexities: literary, social, scientific, aesthetic, and ethical. If you haven’t read Frankenstein (many, myself included, found the tale first on film), it’s worth your time. 

READ MORE  PAW Goes to the Movies: ‘Victor Frankenstein,’ with Professor Susan Wolfson

Scarcely a month goes by without some development earning the prefix Franken-, a near default for anxieties about or satires of new events. The dark brilliance of Frankenstein is both to expose “monstrosity” in the normal and, conversely, to humanize what might seem monstrously “other.” When Shelley conceived Frankenstein, Europe was scarred by a long war, concluding on Waterloo fields in May 1815. “Monster” was a ready label for any enemy. Young Frankenstein begins his university studies in 1789, the year of the French Revolution. In 1790, Edmund Burke’s international best-selling Reflections on the French Revolution recoiled at the new government as a “monster of a state,” with a “monster of a constitution” and “monstrous democratic assemblies.” Within a few months, another international best-seller, Tom Paine’s The Rights of Man, excoriated “the monster Aristocracy” and cheered the American Revolution for overthrowing a “monster” of tyranny.

Following suit, Mary Shelley’s father, William Godwin, called the ancien régime a “ferocious monster”; her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was on the same page: Any aristocracy was an “artificial monster,” the monarchy a “luxurious monster,” and Europe’s despots a “race of monsters in human shape.” Frankenstein makes no direct reference to the Revolution, but its first readers would have felt the force of its setting in the 1790s, a decade that also saw polemics for (and against) the rights of men, women, and slaves. 

England would abolish its slave trade in 1807, but Colonial slavery was legal until 1833. Abolitionists saw the capitalists, investors, and masters as the moral monsters of the global economy. Apologists regarded the Africans as subhuman, improvable perhaps by Christianity and a work ethic, but alarming if released, especially the men. “In dealing with the Negro,” ultra-conservative Foreign Secretary George Canning lectured Parliament in 1824, “we are dealing with a being possessing the form and strength of a man, but the intellect only of a child. To turn him loose in the manhood of his physical strength ... would be to raise up a creature resembling the splendid fiction of a recent romance.” He meant Frankenstein. 

Mary Shelley heard about this reference, and knew, moreover, that women (though with gilding) were a slave class, too, insofar as they were valued for bodies rather than minds, were denied participatory citizenship and most legal rights, and were systemically subjugated as “other” by the masculine world. This was the argument of her mother’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), which she was rereading when she was writing Frankenstein. Unorthodox Wollstonecraft — an advocate of female intellectual education, a critic of the institution of marriage, and the mother of two daughters conceived outside of wedlock — was herself branded an “unnatural” woman, a monstrosity. 

Shelley had her own personal ordeal, which surely imprints her novel. Her parents were so ready for a son in 1797 that they had already chosen the name “William.” Even worse: When her mother died from childbirth, an awful effect was to make little Mary seem a catastrophe to her grieving father. No wonder she would write a novel about a “being” rejected from its first breath. The iconic “other” in Frankenstein is of course this horrifying Creature (he’s never a “human being”). But the deepest force of the novel is not this unique situation but its reverberation of routine judgments of beings that seem “other” to any possibility of social sympathy. In the 1823 play, the “others” (though played for comedy) are the tinker-gypsies, clad in goatskins and body paint (one is even named “Tanskin” — a racialized differential).

Victor Frankenstein greets his awakening creature as a “catastrophe,” a “wretch,” and soon a “monster.” The Creature has no name, just these epithets of contempt. The only person to address him with sympathy is blind, spared the shock of the “countenance.” Readers are blind this way, too, finding the Creature only on the page and speaking a common language. This continuity, rather than antithesis, to the human is reflected in the first illustrations: 

frankenstein research essay

In the cover for the 1823 play, above, the Creature looks quite human, dishy even — alarming only in size and that gaze of expectation. The 1831 Creature, shown on page 29, is not a patent “monster”: It’s full-grown, remarkably ripped, human-looking, understandably dazed. The real “monster,” we could think, is the reckless student fleeing the results of an unsupervised undergraduate experiment gone rogue. 

In Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein pleads sympathy for the “human nature” in his revulsion. “I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health ... but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room.” Repelled by this betrayal of “beauty,” Frankenstein never feels responsible, let alone parental. Shelley’s genius is to understand this ethical monstrosity as a nightmare extreme of common anxiety for expectant parents: What if I can’t love a child whose physical formation is appalling (deformed, deficient, or even, as at her own birth, just female)? 

The Creature’s advent in the novel is not in this famous scene of awakening, however. It comes in the narrative that frames Frankenstein’s story: a polar expedition that has become icebound. Far on the ice plain, the ship’s crew beholds “the shape of a man, but apparently of gigantic stature,” driving a dogsled. Three paragraphs on, another man-shape arrives off the side of the ship on a fragment of ice, alone but for one sled dog. “His limbs were nearly frozen, and his body dreadfully emaciated by fatigue and suffering,” the captain records; “I never saw a man in so wretched a condition.” This dreadful man focuses the first scene of “animation” in Frankenstein: “We restored him to animation by rubbing him with brandy, and forcing him to swallow a small quantity. As soon as he shewed signs of life, we wrapped him up in blankets, and placed him near the chimney of the kitchen-stove. By slow degrees he recovered ... .” 

The re-animation (well before his name is given in the novel) turns out to be Victor Frankenstein. A crazed wretch of a “creature” (so he’s described) could have seemed a fearful “other,” but is cared for as a fellow human being. His subsequent tale of his despicably “monstrous” Creature is scored with this tremendous irony. The most disturbing aspect of this Creature is his “humanity”: this pathos of his hope for family and social acceptance, his intuitive benevolence, bitterness about abuse, and skill with language (which a Princeton valedictorian might envy) that solicits fellow-human attention — all denied by misfortune of physical formation. The deepest power of Frankenstein, still in force 200 years on, is not its so-called monster, but its exposure of “monster” as a contingency of human sympathy.  

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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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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 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.

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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.

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  • 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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frankenstein research essay

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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

  • Frankenstein Editions & Criticism
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Critical Articles on Frankenstein

  • Frankenstein - Articles The University of Pennsylvania has provided access to over 200 scholarly essays on Frankenstein, which are alphabetically listed and available at the following link.

Frankenstein Editions and Criticism

  • Print Editions
  • Digital Editions

frankenstein research essay

  • Frankenstein (1818) vs. (1831). Dana Wheeles. Juxta Commons. This edition uses the comparative text tool, Juxta Commons, to align Shelley’s 1818 Frankenstein with her 1831 Frankenstein. The tool allows for the user to manipulate the information and view the comparison in multiple formats, including side-by-side and histogram. This comparison edition is also linked from the Romantic Circles edition (ed. Stuart Curran).
  • Frankenstein. Ed. Stuart Curran. Romantic Circles Editions. Romantic Circles, May 2009. This edition preserves both the 1818 and 1831 publications of Frankenstein. The novels can be read online as well as compared using a Juxta Commons link. The edition includes a critical introduction and study aids (plot summary, characters, additional materials). An appendix lists more than 280 previous editions of the novel.
  • Frankenstein. The Shelley-Godwin Archive. The Shelley-Godwin Archive provides access to digitized manuscripts by England’s first family of writers: Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, and Mary Shelley. The manuscript for Frankenstein can be read in its original manuscript versions or in its first printed three-volume text. Each page is exquisitely rendered and optimized for audience reading, zooming, and comparing. The Shelley-Godwin Archive is a great resource for those interested in exploring Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s collaborative writing process.
  • Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus (1818). The New York Public Library Digital Collections. Online page images of the 1818 edition that can be read online in a page-turner version.

frankenstein research essay

  • The novels and selected works of Mary Shelley Call Number: Ebook Publication Date: London : W. Pickering, 1996 v. 1. Frankenstein, or, The modern Prometheus / edited by Nora Crook -- v. 2. Matilda, dramas, reviews & essays, prefaces & notes / edited by Pamela Clemit -- v. 3. Valperga, or, The life and adventures of Castruccio, Prince of Lucca / edited by Nora Crook -- v. 4. The last man / edited by Jane Blumberg with Nora Crook -- v. 5. The fortunes of Perkin Warbeck / edited by Doucet Devin Fischer -- v. 6. Lodore / edited by Fiona Stafford -- v. 7. Falkner / edited by Pamela Clemit -- v. 8. Travel writing / edited by Jeanne Moskal.

frankenstein research essay

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142 Frankenstein Essay Topics

🏆 best frankenstein essay topics, ✍️ frankenstein essay topics for college, 👍 good frankenstein research topics & essay examples, 🎓 most interesting frankenstein research paper topics, 💡 simple frankenstein essay titles, ❓ frankenstein essay questions, 📖 inspiring frankenstein thesis ideas.

  • Frankenstein as a Gothic Novel and an Example of Romanticism
  • Social Disapproval in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”
  • Importance of Relationships and Family in Frankenstein
  • The Modern Prometheus: Analysis of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Isolation and Loneliness in Shelley’s “Frankenstein”
  • Companionship in “Frankenstein”: The Theme of Human Connection
  • The Self-Identity Problem in Frankenstein
  • Shelley’s Frankenstein as “The Modern Prometheus” “Frankenstein,” Mary Shelley’s famous novel, which she wrote when she was just eighteen years old, continues to captivate people all over the world.
  • Frankenstein: A Child in the Form of the Monster Viewing the creature Frankenstein as a child will reveal that he is a victim rather than a monster because he needed assistance to meet social norms.
  • Responsibility in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” In Mary Shelley’s pen, a mad scientist’s quest for creation has a reckoning, where the shadows of responsibility loom large and the boundaries of life and death are shattered.
  • Fear of Science in “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley “Frankenstein,” Mary Shelley’s famous novel, which she wrote when she was just eighteen years old, continues to captivate people all over the world.
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bioethics Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein provides an explicit example of how playing God can be dangerous. Victor should not have created the monster, as he had no viable reason and right to do so
  • Injustice in Shelley’s Frankenstein and Milton’s Paradise Lost The monster created by Mary Shelley in Frankenstein and the character of Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost are obsessed with the idea of injustice and revenge.
  • Themes of Knowledge and Family in Shelley’s Frankenstein This paper examines the themes of knowledge and family comprehensively to illustrate how Shelley’s narrative of Frankenstein relates to the nineteenth century.
  • Themes in “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley Frankenstein is one of the greatest books of the nineteenth century. Shelley explores many topics in her work that reflect social and philosophical aspects.
  • Societal Monsters in Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” A special consideration requires different interpretations of social fear in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, Chinua Achebe’s literary masterpiece Things Fall Apart.
  • Prejudice and Lost Innocence in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” raises quite a number of disturbing themes that still hold relevance for modern society.
  • Themes Raised in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley In Frankenstein, Shelly addresses numerous themes such as prejudice, revenge, society and isolation, nature, and death, to name just a few.
  • Frankenstein vs. Paradise Lost The main similarity between Adam and Frankenstein’s monster is that they both were created and both disappointed their creators.
  • Communication with the Audience in Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein” Mary Shelly is trying to convey the information that while technology and science have an essential part in human life, the two can only go as far.
  • Feminist Connotations in Shelley’s “Frankenstein” Mary Shelley has cleverly and effectively integrated feminist connotations within the story of “Frankenstein”.
  • Frankenstein vs. Monster: Characters Comparison This paper claims that Frankenstein’s unwillingness to accept responsibility for the fate of his creation led to his excruciating psychological suffering.
  • “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley and “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley and “Lord of the flies” by William Golding share the research on how the environment influences people and their inner nature.
  • The Science Debate: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, appeared at a time when the science fiction genre was only at the initial stage of its emergence and development.
  • Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley was first published in 1818. John Wilson Croker’s review, published right after the novel was released, was negative.
  • Mary Shelley’s Novel Frankenstein Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein can be used for discussing the limitations of human knowledge, the inability of a person to foresee the long-term effects of one’s actions
  • Chapters 1-4 of “Frankenstein” and Suggestion of Future Events “Frankenstein” is the dramatic story of a scientist whose enthusiasm for science led to terrible consequences and personal misfortune.
  • Frankenstein Mythology and Paleontology: Comparison The thirst for knowledge is universal for many scientific fields, but the novel “Frankenstein” by Shelley illustrates how it may carry one astray.
  • “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley In Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, the monster is the creation of Victor Frankenstein that was assembled from old body parts and unknown chemicals.
  • Analyzing “Frankenstein” Written by Mary Shelly Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelly, is among the most well-known gothic novels, combining scientific and fantastic elements.
  • Who Is the Monster, or Who Are the Monsters, in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley? Primary healthcare is meeting the needs of the population (each person, family, and community) by providing medical services at the first contact with the health system.
  • Concept of the Monster in Frankenstein The paper discusses that the Monster in Frankenstein can be described as a metaphor for the relationship between humans and gods.
  • The Novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley The Novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley raises a number of questions, each defined by a difficult choice to take into consideration.
  • Romeo, Juliet, Ishmael Beah, and Victor Frankenstein This article presents the script for a play dedicated to the adventures of Romeo, Juliet, Ishmael Beah, and Victor Frankenstein.
  • The Book “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley Mary Shelley’s novel about Frankenstein and his Creature reveals many human vices and cruelty. There is also a place in the story for love and remorse.
  • “Frankenstein” Story Retold by Anna Meriano “Frankenstein” by Anna Meriano, is a fancy, captivating retelling of the worldwide known legend, the story of a creature seeking love that began in the writings of Mary Shelly.
  • Shelley’s Frankenstein: The Monster’s Description The purpose of this paper is to discuss the main characteristics of the image of the monster and understand what the author put into this image.
  • Shelley’s “Frankenstein”: Analysis of Frankenstein’s Character The story about Frankenstein and his monster raises many questions. People cannot decide what is more important in making a person, nature or nurture.
  • The Monsters We Create: Analyzing Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” “Frankenstein” addresses some of the crucial issues of scientific exploration and the juxtaposition of nature and human nature, as well as being a metaphor for ostracism.
  • Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s novel Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus addresses conventional romantic themes like isolation and beauty of nature.
  • Analiz work “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a world-famous novel about an ambitious scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who finds out the secret of life and creates a monstrous creature from old body parts.
  • English Literature: Frankenstein by Shelley Victor Frankenstein grew up in a wealthy Swiss family. As a young man, he became interested in science and especially the theory of what gives and takes life from human beings.
  • Great Fictional Icons in the Nineteenth Century: Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus” Frankenstein is rendered in opulent Gothic prose. It delves into the intricacies of the human mind and reflects on the ambitions of man, his purpose and his relation to God.
  • The Modern Prometheus: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Almost two centuries have passed since the first publication of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Today, the monster created by Victor Frankenstein is a well-recognized character.
  • Science in Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and Condorcet’s Works This paper compares Condorcet’s opinion on human happiness and the destruction of prejudice in science with Shelley’s perspective on the role of science in human life.
  • Frankenstein and His Use of Science
  • Frankenstein: Abandonment, Loneliness, and Rejection
  • Frankenstein and Human Nature
  • The Debate Between Fate and Free Will in Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein and King Lear: A Look Into Religion, Politics, and Literature
  • Frankenstein and Male Reproduction
  • Emotion Over Reason: Frankenstein and the Great Gatsby
  • Frankenstein and Genetic Modification
  • Frankenstein and the Human Mind
  • Creature and Victor Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein and Natural Order
  • Doctor Frankenstein’s International Organization
  • Feminine Nature and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein: Embryonic Stem Cell and Curiosity
  • The Creative Symbolism Woven Into Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein and the Romantic Era
  • Frankenstein and His Creation Gone Wrong: Who Is the Real Victim Anyway
  • Frankenstein: Aesthetics and Memory Box
  • Discovering the True Nature of Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein Less Human Than His Creation
  • Frankenstein and Percy Shelley’s Moral Science
  • Frankenstein and Unforeseen Consequence
  • Family Values and Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein: Cultural Criticism Critique
  • Frankenstein and Secret Waiting
  • Biblical Adam and the Creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein and the Modern Pandora
  • Frankenstein and His Creature Are the Same People
  • Euthanasia and Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein and the Industrial Revolution
  • Frankenstein and Gothic Literature
  • Destiny and Frankenstein
  • Comparing Candide and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein and Societal Norms
  • Birth Traumas and Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein Challenging Extreme Romantic and Enlightenment
  • Comparing Frankenstein, Aylmer, and Dr. Phillips
  • Existence Issues Surrounding Frankenstein’s Monster
  • Family Relations and Alienation in Frankenstein
  • Symbolism and Autobiographical Elements in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein and Science
  • The Characters, Conflict, and Plot in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Frankenstein and His Monster
  • Frankenstein Explain How the Character of the Monster Develops
  • Dangerous Knowledge Was All Throughout the Novel Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein and the Effects of Isolation
  • Frankenstein: Lust, Love, and Sin
  • Exploring the Many Themes in the Novel Frankenstein
  • Byronic Hero: Manfred and Frankenstein
  • Sympathy for the Monster in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Faust and Victor Frankenstein: Unconcerned With Reality
  • Does Frankenstein Deserve His Fate?
  • Frankenstein and Rur: Depiction of Human Behavior
  • Frankenstein and Human Cloning
  • Dr. Victor Frankenstein and the Artificial Life
  • Frankenstein and the Role of Parents in the Process of Childs Development
  • Frankenstein and Blade Runner: Disruption and Identity
  • Ecocriticism and Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein Being More Human Than Monster
  • Frankenstein and Blade Runner: Dangerous Implications of Scientific and Technological Development
  • What Is the Specter of Orality in “Frankenstein”?
  • What Are the Approaches to Teaching Shelley’s “Frankenstein”?
  • What Is the Dilemma of Creator and Creation in “Frankenstein”?
  • What Is the Narrative Structure and Reader Skepticism in “Frankenstein”?
  • How Godlike Science and Unhallowed Arts Are Depicted in “Frankenstein”?
  • How the Character of the Monster Develops in “Frankenstein”?
  • What Is the Significance of the Birthing Scene in “Frankenstein”?
  • Which Story Is More Terrifying: “Dracula” or “Frankenstein”?
  • How Does Isolation Play a Big Role in the Novel “Frankenstein”?
  • How Does Mary Shelley Convey Horror to the Reader in “Frankenstein”?
  • What Is the Main Conflict in Frankenstein?
  • How Does Mary Shelley Explore Suffering in “Frankenstein”?
  • How Does the Language in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” Reflect Its Gothic Genre?
  • How Forbidden Topics Are Transferred as Gothic in “Frankenstein”?
  • What Are the Female Roles and Responsibilities in “Frankenstein”?
  • What Does Light and Fire Represent in “Frankenstein”?
  • What Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” Suggests About Parenting?
  • Who Was Mary Shelley and What Inspired “Frankenstein”?
  • Why Does “Frankenstein” Begin and End With Walton’s Letters
  • What Is the Historical Background of “Frankenstein”?
  • What Are the Major Themes in “Frankenstein”?
  • What Philosophers Influenced “Frankenstein” and How?
  • How Does “Frankenstein” Relate to the Real World?
  • What Is the Philosophy of “Frankenstein”?
  • How Does “Frankenstein” Represent the Enlightenment?
  • What Is the Main Idea of the Introduction of “Frankenstein”?
  • What Is the Last Line of “Frankenstein” and What Does It Mean?
  • The Sympathetic Monster Trope Discuss the trope of the sympathetic monster and its impact on readers’ perceptions of the creature.
  • Critical Analysis of Victor Frankenstein’s God Complex Examining how Victor Frankenstein’s scientific ambitions intersect with notions of playing God and the ethical implications of his actions in the context of romanticism.
  • Mary Shelley’s Feminist Vision Analyzing how Mary Shelley’s personal experiences and beliefs are reflected in the novel’s themes, particularly those related to women’s roles and autonomy.
  • Frankenstein in Popular Culture Revealing the enduring influence of “Frankenstein” on literature, film, and other forms of media, and its portrayal in various adaptations.
  • The Gothic and Romantic Elements Discussing the incorporation of gothic and romantic literary elements in “Frankenstein” and their contribution to its overall atmosphere.
  • Religious and Moral Parallels Exploring the novel’s intersections with spiritual and moral themes, including the creation narrative and the concept of playing God.
  • Ethics of Scientific Discovery Investigating the ethical responsibilities of scientists in pursuit of knowledge, drawing parallels to contemporary discussions on scientific ethics.
  • Narrative Structure and Multiple Perspectives Assessing the use of multiple narrative perspectives and their impact on understanding the story’s themes and characters.
  • Eco-Critical Readings of “Frankenstein” Exploring environmental and ecological themes in the novel and their relevance to contemporary eco-critical discussions.
  • Enlightenment Ideas and Romantic Critique Analyzing how “Frankenstein” engages with Enlightenment ideals of progress and reason and the romantic critique of these ideals.

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Home — Essay Samples — Literature — Frankenstein — The Analysis Of Frankenstein

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The Analysis of Frankenstein

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Published: Apr 29, 2022

Words: 1278 | Pages: 3 | 7 min read

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frankenstein research essay

Personality of Victor Frankenstein

This essay about Victor Frankenstein, the protagonist of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” explores his complex character traits and the moral ambiguities that define his narrative. Victor is portrayed as a passionate and ambitious scientist, whose pursuit of knowledge leads him to transcend the boundaries of natural science. His obsession isolates him, driving him to work in secrecy, which eventually results in the creation of his monstrous creature. Victor’s intelligence and ingenuity are overshadowed by his profound isolation and lack of foresight, leading to significant ethical failings, particularly his inability to take responsibility for his creation. The essay highlights how these traits contribute to the tragedy that unfolds, affecting not only Victor but also those around him. Through Victor’s character, Shelley engages with themes concerning the responsibilities of creation, the ethical limits of science, and the consequences of unchecked ambition, positioning his story as a cautionary tale about the dangers of overreaching human endeavor.

How it works

Victor Frankenstein, the protagonist of Mary Shelley’s seminal work *Frankenstein*, is a complex character whose personal traits and moral ambiguities play a central role in the unfolding tragedy of the novel. Created in the dawn of the 19th century, Victor embodies the dualities inherent in mankind’s pursuit of knowledge, illustrating the fine line between genius and folly. His characteristics not only drive the plot forward but also serve to explore deeper philosophical questions regarding creation, ambition, and human responsibility.

At his core, Victor is depicted as a deeply passionate and ambitious individual, qualities that initially appear as marks of a promising young scientist. From an early age, he demonstrates an insatiable curiosity about the workings of the natural world. His quest for knowledge is profound, leading him to leave his family in Geneva to study at the University of Ingolstadt. There, he excels quickly, driven by a desire to penetrate the secrets of nature. However, Victor’s ambition soon veers into obsession. This fixation is perhaps his most defining trait, illustrating a perilous descent. His relentless drive to surpass the usual boundaries of scientific inquiry—to “bestow animation upon lifeless matter”—speaks to a hubristic desire to play God, to challenge the natural order of the world.

Victor’s intelligence and ingenuity are undeniable. He is not only a scholar but also an innovator, capable of profound insights into scientific mysteries. Yet, his brilliance is shadowed by his profound isolation. As he becomes more consumed with his experiments, he withdraws from his family and friends, cloaking his project in secrecy. This isolation is both physical and emotional, highlighting a significant aspect of his character: his inability to share his inner life and his burdens with others. This trait not only exacerbates his obsessions but also leads to a lack of accountability and perspective, which are crucial in the ethical application of science.

Despite his intellectual gifts, Victor’s fatal flaw is his lack of foresight and responsibility. After animating his creature, he is horrified by its appearance and abandons it, refusing to acknowledge his duty to the being he has created. This act of negligence reveals a profound moral failure. Victor’s initial reaction to his creation, driven by disgust and fear, leads to a series of tragic events. Instead of facing the consequences of his actions, Victor often falls into despair, showing a propensity to flee from the repercussions of his decisions.

Furthermore, Victor’s relationships offer a window into his complex emotional landscape. His connections with his family and Elizabeth, his fiancée, are steeped in affection yet marred by his secretive nature. The guilt and grief he experiences after the creature’s vengeance—the deaths of his brother William, Justine, Clerval, and Elizabeth—plunge him into anguished reflections on his actions. However, his remorse, though sincere, often lapses into self-pity rather than transformative change, illustrating a pattern of reaction rather than proactive resolution.

In sum, Victor Frankenstein is a character of profound contradictions. He is at once a visionary scientist and a tragically flawed individual, whose personal failings catalyze disaster. His passion, isolation, and lack of responsibility form a character study in the dangers of unchecked ambition and the ethical responsibilities that accompany the creation of life. Through Victor, Shelley poses enduring questions about the role of science in society and the moral considerations it must entail. His story serves as a timeless cautionary tale about the limits of human endeavor and the deep responsibilities entwined with the power of creation.

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COMMENTS

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