The Frankenstein Application Essay
Literary works like Frankenstein explore the “human condition” or experiences that humans encounter. 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.
Your sources will preferably be a scholarly ones. Here are some ideas of places where you might find appropriate sources for this assignment:
Microsoft Academic Search:
Cornell University’s arXiv:
Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE):
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.
You have several options for this assignment:
Option #1: Can science go too far?
There 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 the issues of science and/or faith for audiences, regardless of when they read the novel?”
Option #2: Discovery
Both 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 for discovery?
Hint: Develop a thesis that answers a question like this one: “How and how well does Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein address human discovery as a theme?”
Option #3: Personal Perception
It 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 situations? Why?
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 #4: Nature vs. Nurture
The creature argues that had someone properly guided him, he would not have been so wretched. Frankenstein 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 do 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? Why?
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?”
This assignment should be at least 750 words.
Underline your thesis statement in the introductory paragraph.
MLA-style source documentation and Works Cited
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