By Betty T.
Literature Consultant, Frankenstein Traveling Exhibition Project
- Frankenstein has its roots in the popular Gothic genre, which generally
tells harrowing stories involving an innocent girl, a sinister castle,
an even more sinister authority figure, and frightening supernatural
In what ways did Mary Shelley transform the Gothic novel to focus on
the influence of circumstances, education, and values in shaping the
conduct of individuals and society?
- How does Mary Shelley repeatedly illustrate that it is not science
per se, but Victor Frankenstein's narcissism and hunger for self-aggrandizement
- the results of class and chivalric values of power - that are central
problems of Frankenstein and society?
- How are Victor Frankenstein's view of and practice of science a metaphoric
model for the need for social change? Who is the actual monster in Frankenstein?
- How does Frankenstein emphasize liberal arts education?
Consider Victor Frankenstein's and the Creature's educations, e.g.,
Victor Frankenstein's father's offhand dismissal of his son's misdirection
in reading Agrippa, compared with the Creature's reading of Milton (Paradise
Lost), Plutarch (Lives), Volney (Ruins of Empire),
Goethe (Sorrows of Werter), and Victor Frankenstein's scientific
- Compare the differences in motivation between the mythological Prometheus
in giving humanity light (knowledge), and Victor Frankenstein in creating,
and then abandoning, his creature?
- How does Frankenstein depict the role of women in a world
controlled by men? In what ways can the women in the novel be metaphoric
for all those disenfranchised by the social system?
- In what ways was Frankenstein a story for its time? How/why
has it become a story for ours? Might this tie into the fact that Mary
Shelley does not actually depict the Creature's death in the book?
Penetrating the Secrets of Nature was developed by the National
Library of Medicine in collaboration with the American
It has been made possible by major grants from The
National Endowment for the Humanities, Washington, D.C., and the
National Library of Medicine,
Bethesda, Md. The traveling
exhibition is based upon a major exhibition produced by the National Library
of Medicine in 1997-1998.
support has been generously provided by Cornell
University, M&T Bank,
We have also benefited from many local partnerships with community groups
including the members of the Discovery
image from: http://www.creativescreenwriting.com/articles/essman12_99.html
Last Revised September 7,