English 25 Assignment 1

The Frankenstein paper


Final draft due Wednesday, September 18 at the start of class.  Papers that come to me after the start of your class time will be considered late.  If you have a legitimate reason for lateness, talk to me about this before the due date.

Five pages, double-spaced.  You don't need to turn in a physical, printed paper for the final draft.  Instead, I would like a copy of your word processor file.  (Whatever word processor file format you use is fine.  Please send this to me as an e-mail attachment.  I will collect these to assemble an electronic portfolio for you, which I use to chart your progress though the course.)

Do bring a printed rough draft to class on Monday, September 16.

Choose one of the following two topics:

1 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is often regarded as an "anti-science" novel, a novel warning against the reckless pursuit of knowledge.  However Shelley subtitled it "The Modern Prometheus," and as we saw in class, the Prometheus myth is ambiguous about whether the gift of fire/knowledge/science was a good or a bad thing.  Write a paper in which you explore how Frankenstein works as a cautionary tale.  What, exactly, is Shelley cautioning against?  Is it science, a particular way of doing science, or something else?  Try to be specific.  Is the line between good and bad clear or ambiguous here?  How does that affect the novel's message as a cautionary tale?

If it will help your argument, you may want to compare this "Modern Prometheus" to the original myth. 


2 Victor calls his creation "my own vampire, my own spirit let loose from the grave"(49).  In many ways, Victor's monster seems to him to be a reflection of something monstrous inside himself which he would rather not face.  This is similar to the way Lord Ruthven seems to embody or reflect something monstrous, but repressed, inside Aubrey in "The Vampyre."

What do these texts suggest about how we humans define and react to The Monstrous?  Is the monstrous external to us, or internal to us, or something else?  While your answer can address this question in general (that is, what function does the monster perform in human culture at large), your response should be focused on specific evidence from Frakenstein and "The Vampyre."



Questions?  Email me:   (and remember to include "ENGL25" in the subject line).


Return to syllabus.