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Pat Swenson, CSUN - Frankenstein
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Prof Pat Swenson

Campus Email: pat.swenson@csun.edu

Elements of Fiction

Literary Theory

Myth & Archetype: The Hero's Quest

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Department Information

Department of English

708 Sierra Tower
Phone: 818.677.3431

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Liberal Studies Program

EA 100
Phone: 818.677.3300

Liberal Studies Website

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley - Discussion Guide


Walton's Letters

Discuss the strategy and purpose of Walton and his letters to his sisters.

How did Mary Shelley use these letters as a technique to tell her story?

Examine similarities between Walton and Victor and how their relationship enhances the novel's theme of ambition.

How do the lives of Walton and Victor parallel?

What, if anything, has Walton learned from Victor's mistakes?

Mythological Literary Theory: Victor Frankenstein, Tragic Hero

Victor Frankenstein can be considered a tragic figure in literature. How has Mary Shelley portrayed Victor as tragic?

How does this "tragedy" theme assist the plot and heighten the conflict of the novel?

Does the conflict build as Victor becomes more tragic?

Psychological Literary Theory

Mary Shelley uses psychological themes throughout her novel. One possible theme involves the failure of parenting. How does this relate to the relationship (or lack of) between Victor and the monster?

How does the strategy of using this psychological theme deepen and embellish the meaning of the novel?

Friendship Theme

Friendship is something many of the central characters desire. How does Mary Shelley use the continuing theme of friendship to tell her story?

Discuss how Victor viewed friendship?

Were Victor's feelings consistent with his actions?

Describe Walton's longing for companionship and how this influenced the early mood of the novel.

Describe how the monster's desire for companionship affected his actions.

Romantic Age Viewpoint

One Romantic viewpoint is that goodness is natural and evil is the result of the institutions of mankind (man-made prejudice). Assuming this statement is true, describe how the monster's personality changed over the course of the novel due to the prejudices and hatred he endured.

What does Frankenstein think of this Romantic point of view, and how does it affect his relationship to the monster?