Frankenstein: An Introduction

Contributor: Emily Love. Lesson ID: 10912

Everyone knows "Frankenstein." But do you know Frankenstein? This Gothic novel has affected culture for over 100 years. A video and online readings introduce the creator and the creature in a new way!


Literary Studies

learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

  • When you hear the name “Frankenstein," what image comes to mind?

Write out a thorough description of this image, or draw an illustration.

In all likelihood, you thought of a tall monster with a green face and bolts in his neck.

However, this version of Frankenstein is far from the original creation! In fact, "Frankenstein" is the name of the creator, not the creation!

Mary Shelley published her novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, in 1818 at the age of 21.

While it was still more common for men to be authors in this time period, other women were writing and publishing their works, including Jane Austen and Shelley's own mother, Mary Wollstonecraft.

Listen to the podcast Annotating 'Frankenstein' and Reviving a Classic, by Weekend Edition ( to gain an understanding of the far-reaching influence of Frankenstein throughout our culture. You can even follow along with the podcast's transcript if that is helpful.

In the podcast, Professor Wolfson mentions her favorite illustration of the creature created by Theodore Von Holst.

  • Does the creation look like what you expected?
  • How did he become the green monster we are all familiar with in popular culture?

In order to find the answers to these questions and many more, you will be reading the novel and completing various activities as you read. Shelley's novel introduces some controversial issues that are designed to cause readers to ask many important questions. Before you begin reading the novel, consider these pre-reading questions:

  • How far should people go in the pursuit of scientific discovery? Should there be limits?
  • What are the potential consequences of taking too much pride in your accomplishments?
  • Are children innately good?
  • Why do so many people judge others based on their physical appearance? Do you think this is fair?

In order to have an understanding of the novel and its themes, you have to have a basic introduction to both Romantic and Gothic literature.

  1. Romantic Literature
    1. Introduced in the middle of the 18th century; remained popular throughout the 19th century
    2. Emphasized the natural goodness of man and the destructive influence of society
    3. Designed to demonstrate the power of imagination and the importance of nature's influence on man's physical and emotional state
    4. Famous authors include William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and John Keats
    5. Read the following essay by Stephanie Forward, Legacy of the Romantics, from OpenLearn, and look for the following concepts:
    6. Introduction (first two paragraphs)
    7. Revolution
    8. The imagination
    9. The marginalized and oppressed
    10. Children, nature and the sublime
  2. Gothic Literature
    1. Introduced in the middle of the 18th century; remained popular throughout the 19th century
    2. Designed to showcase the irrational and nightmarish terrors that lurked beneath an orderly, civilized mind
    3. Characteristics include mysterious settings, supernatural occurrences, and extreme emotions
    4. Plots usually focused on a mystery, along with featuring an isolated protagonist or an individual in conflict with his or her community
    5. Watch this Gothic ghost novels - The Story of the Ghost Story - BBC video to gain a better understanding of the genre:

Continue on to the Got It? section to dig a little deeper.

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