FrankensteinIntroduction, Preface, Letters October 21, 2010
1. Why did Mary Shelley write Frankenstein? She wrote it as a response to a challenge by Lord Byron to think of a ghost story.
2. What discussions influenced the development of her idea? She was listening to her husband, Shelley, and Lord Byron talk about the nature of life, and the possibility of creating a creature. It is also possible that the death of her newborn child influenced her writing about bringing a human back to life.
3. In the preface, what does the author say she is trying to preserve? She is trying to “preserve the truth of the elementary principles of human nature.”
4. What is the structure, or form, of the novel? It is an epistolary novel. This means it is written as a series of letters.
5. Who is writing Letter 1 (and all the letters)? They were written by Robert Walton.
6. To whom are the letters written? What is their relationship? They were written to Walton’s sister, Mrs. Margaret Saville, in England.
7. Where is Robert Walton when he writes Letter 1? Why is he there? What are his plans? He was in the Arctic, exploring unknown regions. He hopes to discover a new country.
8. What does Robert Walton tell us about himself? Robert Walton tells us that he is the captain of a ship who is exploring new lands in the Arctic. Additionally, we know that Walton is lonely and seeks a friend while on his voyage.
9. Where is Walton now? What do you think of Walton's question "What can stop the determined heart and resolved will of man"? At this point in the novel, Walton is in Archangel. This quote is from the original Frankenstein text. It is taken from Letter 3. The full paragraph is: “But success shall crown my endeavors. Wherefore not? Thus far I have gone, tracing a secure way over the pathless seas: the very stars themselves being witnesses and testimonies of my triumph. Why not still proceed over the united yet obedient element? What can stop the determined heart and resolved will of man?”
10. How much time has elapsed between Letter 3 and Letter 4? What "strange accident" has happened to the sailors? Approximately one month has elapsed. Walton and the crew found Frankenstein stuck on a large piece of ice. They rescued him and brought him aboard their vessel.
11. Why does the man picked up by the ship say he is there? What shape is he in? How does Robert feel about his guest? He liked Frankenstein, and hoped they would become friends.
12. What sort of person does he seem to be? How does Walton respond to this man? Victor Frankenstein seems to be an interesting person. He has a wild look in his eyes but responds favorably to human kindness. Walton likes Victor and wants to get to know him better.
14. How much time has elapsed when Walton begins writing again? What has happened in the meantime? How does the man respond to Walton's project? Why does the man agree to tell his story? Six days have elapsed since Walton has written. The stranger (Frankenstein) has opened up to him a bit. Walter is excited to hear Frankenstein’s story and hopes he can ameliorate (or improve) Frankenstein’s fate. Frankenstein responds by saying that his fate is sealed and nothing can change it. The man sees Walton as being similar to him. Victor hopes that his story can prevent history from repeating itself.
15. Why is Frankenstein really in the Arctic? Frankenstein is chasing after the creature. As Frankenstein puts it, “To seek one who has fled from me.”
Vocabulary Ch. 1-5 1. oblivion A. irritating 2. rankling B. hastily done 3. penury C. tireless 4. caprice D. destroying completely 5. cursory E. face 6. prognosticated F. facial features with regard to revealing character 7. countenance G. whim 8. indefatigable H. predicted 9. physiognomy I. extreme poverty 10. obliterated