The Frankenstein Application Essay
Literary works like Frankenstein explore the “human condition” or experiences that humans encounter. The study guides for Frankenstein offer
several “Real Life Considerations” meant to help you critically analyze
the applications of the work’s themes in today’s world. Now, you will
choose one of these topics and explore it using secondary resources to
learn more about the novel and its relevant social topics. You might
find information about social issues in familiar sources such as
magazines, newspapers, or social science journals. Make sure your
sources are credible – you do not want a random website or an
encyclopedic website such as Wikipedia.2 Your sources will
preferably be scholarly ones. Here are some ideas of places where you
might find appropriate sources for this assignment:
- Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com/ (note that this is different from regular Google)
- Microsoft Academic Search: http://academic.research.microsoft.com/
- Cornell University’s arXiv (open access sources in math, biology, physics, and other fields): http://arxiv.org/
- Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE): https://www.base-search.net/
- Your local library
Your thesis statement and paper must address both the literary qualities and the social issues as you evaluate the novel, Frankenstein.
However, keep in mind, your essay does not have to answer ALL of the
questions listed under each topic. Only answer the questions you feel
are the most relevant to the thesis statement you choose. Develop your
essay so it has a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. Ensure that
each of your claims is supported with valid evidence from the novel, Frankenstein, and at least three other credible external sources.3
proper MLA style, insert parenthetical citations and signal phrases for
all borrowed information in addition to a Works Cited page for Frankenstein and your chosen external sources.
You have several options for this assignment:
Option #1: Can science go too far?
is an ongoing battle between faith or spirituality and science that has
been active even before the time of Mary Shelley. What are some of the
dilemmas she addresses that are still important today? What are some of
the ethical questions she brings up regarding the scientific definition
of life and death? What does she illustrate about the power science has
to blur the line between life and death? What is a current news item
that is similar to this issue?
Hint: Develop a thesis that answers a question like this one: “How and how well does Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein address ethical issues of science and/or faith for audiences, regardless of when they read the novel?”
Option #2: Discovery
Frankenstein and Walton are trying to discover something important to
them. What parts of their real lives drive them to discovery? Does that
drive still exist today? While we’ve mapped the globe, are there still
geographical places for people to explore? In science, are people still
trying to discover the meaning of life, how to save life, and how to
defeat death? What methods do they use? Are there better ways to
accomplish these goals than others? What are some of today’s motivations
Note: Develop a thesis that answers questions like this one: “How and how well does Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein address human discovery as a theme?”
Option #3: World Perception and Prejudice
the paragraph where the creature describes the book from which Felix
teaches Safie. It begins: “The book from which Felix instructed
Safie was Volney’s Ruins of Empires…”
What are some of
the perceptions and prejudices from the book that Felix teaches Safie?
How have these perceptions and prejudices changed, if they have, in
today’s society? What are some present-day situations and references
that may claim a lack of prejudice or an open-mindedness, but, in fact,
are still very prejudiced, racist, sexist, etc.? Why do you think these
situations still happen? Can anything be done about it?
Hint: Develop a thesis that answers a question like this one: “How and how well does Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein address human prejudice in the world throughout time?”
Option #4: Personal Perception
could be argued that the creature did not consider itself a monster and
didn’t do awful things until people treated him like a monster. What
are some real-world instances in which people’s actions could be a
reaction to abuse from others? Who do you feel is accountable in these
Hint: Develop a thesis that answers a question like this one: “How and how well does Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein address the effect of peer perceptions on personal development?”
Option #5: Death and Suicide
the end of the book, the creature promises to destroy himself. Is this a
justifiable end for him? Could he have been redeemed? Would he have had
a place in the world of Shelley’s novel? How could this relate to
current-day issues like suicide or the death penalty?
Hint: Develop a thesis that answers a question like this one: “How and how well does Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein address the value of an individual’s life and death?”
Option #6: Nature vs. Nurture
The creature argues that had someone properly guided him, he would not have been so wretched. Frankenstein4 argues
that the creature was evil to begin with, so it would have been useless
to teach him at all. What are some current debates – especially in
education – where these kinds of arguments still arise? How much of
behavior of you think is based on nature (how a person IS) and how much
is based on nurture (what a person LEARNS or EXPERIENCES)? What examples
from the present support your opinion? What do you feel is the truth?
Hint: Develop a thesis that answers a question like this one: “How and how well does Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein address existing personality traits versus how a person is taught to act?”
Option #7: Feminism
The feminist perspective is often explored in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
How are the women characters treated in the novel? What perceptions of
women did Shelley use and comment on? How did she handle the theme of
Hint: Develop a thesis that answers a question like
this one: “How and how well does Mary Shelley incorporate responses to
feminist issues into the novel, Frankenstein?”
The guidelines for this assignment are as follows:
Header: Include a header in the upper left-hand corner of your writing assignment with the following information:
- Your first and last name
- Course Title (Composition II)
- Assignment name (Frankenstein Application Essay)
- Current Date
- MLA-style source documentation and Works Cited5
- Your last name and page number in the upper-right corner of each page
- Double-spacing throughout
- Standard font (Times New Roman, Calibri)
- Title, centered after heading
- 1″ margins on all sides
- Save the file using one of the following extensions: .docx, .doc, .rtf, or .txt
- Length: This assignment should be at least 750 words.
Underline your thesis statement in the introductory paragraph.
1 Remember to italicize titles of books. Thus, if you are referring to this book’s title, you should italicize it as Frankenstein.
However, if you are talking about Frankenstein the character, it will
not be italicized (e.g., Victor Frankenstein is the main character in
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.)
2 Tip: Part of your grade will be assessed on the credibility of your sources.
3 Failure to use the minimum source requirement will constitute a severe point deduction.
4 It is a common misconception that the creature is named Frankenstein. Keep in mind that the creature itself is not Frankenstein. Victor Frankenstein is the human protagonist in the novel. The creature, or monster, is Victor’s creation.
5 This resource may be helpful as you are making MLA formatting decisions: MLA Formatting and Style Guide