“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” —Mary Shelley
If you’re a math major enrolled in a required literature course, the painful and sudden change you might be experiencing right now is the fact that you have to write a paper about Frankenstein.
There’s no need to be fearful, though. Whether you’re a math major struggling through an English course or a lit major happy to analyze any piece of literature the prof throws your way, I have 10 interesting topics to help inspire your Frankenstein essay.
10 Interesting Topics for a Killer Frankenstein Essay
Frankenstein is a decent-sized novel, so there are about a gazillion different topics you could write about. You could write about the genre, characters, writing style, themes, symbols, and/or imagery.
There are just about as many different types of papers you could write about it too. Your options include an argumentative essay, compare and contrast essay, literary analysis, or a character analysis, among others
I can’t possibly cover every topic and essay type here, but I have included 10 topics to help you get started on your Frankenstein essay.
I’ve divided the topics into three categories—characters, themes, and literary devices. I’ve also included a few essay ideas and links to example essays for added inspiration.
Writing about characters
1. Victor Frankenstein
It’s Victor Frankenstein who creates the monster. Throughout the novel, readers see Frankenstein’s character develop from mad scientist (who plays God by creating life) to a broken man, full of guilt for creating such a monster.
If you’re writing about Victor Frankenstein, you might choose to write a character analysis to examine Frankenstein’s character as it develops throughout the novel.
Need an example to see what a character analysis essay might look like? Read 2 Character Analysis Essay Examples With Character.
2. The monster
Created from a handful of spare parts, the monster comes to life unaware of his situation. He doesn’t know why he was abandoned and shunned by his creator. Nor does he realize he has a horrific appearance.
Even though the monster is intelligent and articulate, he’s feared and beaten, primarily due to his appearance. He ultimately seeks revenge, but he’s still tormented and remorseful.
Check out An Analysis of the Monster in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley to read an example analysis essay.
3. Robert Walton
Robert Walton is a sea captain who picks up Victor Frankenstein (who’s weak and emaciated from searching for the monster). The reader learns part of Frankenstein’s story as he tells his story to Walton. Walton then writes letters to his sister to share the extraordinary tale.
If you choose Walton as the focus of your paper, consider how Walton’s narration affects the story and how it affects your interpretation of characters and events.
Take a look at this example essay to see how one writer tackles the topic.
Writing about themes
As the old saying goes, “beauty is only skin deep.” The monster, however, is continually judged based on his grotesque appearance.
The theme of appearances is prevalent in many pieces of literature, including The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Picture of Dorian Gray. You might compare and contrast the theme of appearances in Frankenstein to the same theme in other literary works.
Throughout the novel, Victor Frankenstein states that he had no choice, that he was destined, that it was fate that he created the monster. Were his actions really a matter of fate? Or is he simply using fate as an excuse for his actions?
Here, you might write a persuasive essay or a more formal argumentative essay about fate and destiny in Frankenstein.
6. Forgiveness and compassion
Everyone seems to be seeking revenge in this novel. But if you look closely, the theme of forgiveness and compassion also runs through the storyline.
Victor Frankenstein feels compassion for the monster he created. And readers are fully aware that he’s guilt-ridden and wants forgiveness for his deeds. (Frankenstein feels he was the cause of his brother’s death as he created the monster that killed his brother.)
The monster also seeks compassion and forgiveness. He’s treated horribly because of his appearance and simply wants to be treated kindly for his actions. Society, however, continually disappoints him.
A discussion of this theme would make a great literary analysis. You can provide a variety of examples to help illustrate forgiveness and compassion throughout the novel.
Writing about literary devices
7. Point of view
Most stories stick with one narrator. Frankenstein is an exception. Readers learn about the story through Frankenstein’s telling of the story, through the monster’s perspective, through a third-person narrator, and through Walton’s letters to his sister.
Narrators can be unreliable, though. As a reader, then, you can’t be certain which story (if any) is the actual truth. It’s your job as a reader to piece together the events to try to find the truth.
If you’re writing about point of view, consider what the novel would be like if it was narrated by one of the other characters. You could also consider what it would be like if narrated by only Frankenstein or only the monster.
How might the plot or characters change? Would the story have the same impact on you as the reader?
Light and fire are the key symbols in the novel. Frankenstein is a scientist who wishes to bring knowledge and life by creating the monster. Light is a symbol of knowledge.
The full title of the novel is Frankenstein, Or The Modern Prometheus. You have to know your Greek mythology to understand the connection here, but Prometheus gave fire to humanity, thus giving them knowledge.
The monster also learns of the power of fire and realizes that it brings not only light but also danger.
Feeling a bit lost trying to figure out how to incorporate a discussion of symbolism into an essay? Read Writing About Literature: 9 Things You Need to Know.
The thing about foreshadowing is that you sometimes don’t know it’s foreshadowing until the end. After you read the story, though, it’s usually pretty easy to see how the author attempted to let readers know what was coming.
In Frankenstein, pay close attention to the words characters use to tell their stories.
Victor Frankenstein tells his story to Walton and uses words like “fate” and “destiny.” Frankenstein talks of his quest to find “enlightenment” and speaks of the dangers that come with it. All of these word choices hint at the ominous tale that is to come.
Want to make sure you’re using the perfect words for your paper (even if you’re not telling an ominous tale)? Read The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Word Choice for Your Essay.
The irony of Frankenstein is that Victor Frankenstein is trying to bring enlightenment and to create life. However, although he succeeds in creating life, he also brings destruction through his creation.
Have a few ideas of how you want to incorporate irony into your essay but just can’t seem to get the ball rolling? Try these proven tips to help beat writer’s block.
Taming the Monster
Once you have a few ideas for your killer Frankenstein essay, the thought of actually writing the paper doesn’t seem so scary, does it?
With your topic in place, you can cruise right along through the writing process. Start with a few prewriting strategies (maybe even create an outline), then draft your essay. Don’t forget the final step: revision.
Not sure if your Frankenstein essay is killer or will end up killing your grade? Send it our way for some expert Kibin editing.
Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.
Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements / paper topics for “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley that can be used as essay starters. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in Frankenstein and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements on Frankenstein offer a short summary of different elements that could be important in an essay but you are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from Frankenstein by mary Shelley, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #1: Frankenstein as a Gothic Novel & Example of Romanticism
Frankenstein is one of the finest expressions of the Gothic novel and also fits many of the characteristics of a Romantic novel. Consider all of the elements that comprise a story—including setting, character development, narrative voice, tone, to name just a few—and explain how each element contributes to the novel’s identity as a Gothic text or example of Romanticism. Then, offer your interpretation of Shelley’s message, if you believe she intended to convey one to her reader. If, alternately, you believe that the novel is purely for entertainment purposes, substantiate your claim with textual evidence. If you are stuck, please check out An Overview of Romanticism in Literature and Romanticism in FrankensteinThesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: Victor as God in “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley
Many students and critics have accused Victor of “playing God” by fabricating the Creature in his laboratory. Playing God, though, implies that a character is flawed by excessive hubris, which may or may not be applicable to Victor. Consider your own reaction to this charge, and write an essay in which you construct a solid argument that conveys your position to the reader. You will need to identify Victor’s character traits and explain how they do or do not substantiate the claim that Victor is trying to play God. You will also need to be sure to cite specific actions that Victor takes which provide evidence for your own claims. It might also be useful to consider the ways the presence of a “god” has an effect on the Creature in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Modern Prometheus: The Meaning of the Subtitle of “Frankenstein”
The subtitle of Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, is “The Modern Prometheus.” Prometheus was a figure from Greek mythology who stole fire from the gods and used it to create humans. Based on your knowledge of this myth, construct an essay in which you defend or refute the idea that Victor is the modern Prometheus. Incorporate specific, concrete evidence from the novel to support your arguments. Be sure to dig beneath the surface similarities between the myth and Shelley’s novel in order to identify latent symbols and their significance.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: The Narrative Structure in Frankenstein
Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, has three narrators who tell the story of the Creature’s creation and his subsequent actions. Write an expository essay in which you explain the function of the three distinct narrators and their respective stories. Identify how each of the narrators differs, what his motives might be, and what the implications are for the novel. You may wish to go beyond this suggestion to offer a well-considered opinion about who you believe to be the most reliable narrator, and why. Alternately, you may wish to argue how the novel would have been different if one or more of the narrators was not present in the text.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4 The Character of the Creature
Considering the Creature’s version of events, conveyed to the reader through his narrative, decide whether you feel empathic towards the Creature’s plight, or whether you think he is an abomination. The essay you write will be persuasive in nature, as you want to convince your reader to adopt your point of view. You may wish to focus on one or more specific passages in order to build your argument. In any case, develop the essay fully by remarking upon the Creature’s significance and what he may represent with respect to society.
* Articles related to the topics here include Overview of Romanticism in LiteratureFrankenstein by Mary Shelley: Morality Without GodThe Presence of Romanticism in Frankenstein Comparison of Notions of Humanity in Frankenstein and Flowers for Algernon