Frankenstein Literary Terms Glossary

British Literature
Frankenstein Unit Overview
Objectives: By the end of this unit, you should be able to…
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support your analysis
of what the text says explicitly and what you infer from the text;
Determine the themes of the text;
Analyze an author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate
the elements of a story and discuss how the text’s structure
impacts its overall meaning and appeal;
Analyze multiple interpretations of the story.
A brief history:
Mary Shelley first wrote Frankenstein as a short story, with the intention of creating a fun and
scary ghost tale for friends. Frankenstein is all about Victor Frankenstein, a doctor who becomes
obsessed with reanimating a dead body – essentially creating human life. When Victor succeeds,
things get a little out of hand, and his “monster” causes some serious trouble for Victor’s friends
and family. The story was published in 1818, and is known especially for its use of symbols,
frames, and Gothic-Romanticism. It also serves as a prime opportunity to discuss the role of
women in literature during this period, and the rise of industrialization and technology – both
now and then.
Reading Schedule
Hw: Preface
Log 2 due
Log 1 due
Hw: Ch. 1-2
Hw: Letters 3-4
Hw: Log 1
Hw: Ch. 3 + Log
Log Assignment: Frankenstein
British Literature
Many are surprised to hear that Mary Shelley’s novel has little to do
with Hollywood, and even less to do with green monsters, stitchedup skin, or bolted necks. In fact, the novel skims the surface of
creating artificial life, and instead reveals the true nature of man. In
order to help you fully experience Shelley’s depth and insight
about this topic, and as part of your interaction with the novel, you
will keep a reading log. For this, you will need a dedicated spiral bound
notebook that I will periodically collect from you. Here are the requirements for your
log entries, which you will do for the collection of letters and every three chapters:
1. Summarize the action of the reading selection. (Major events, new
characters, shift in plot, etc.)
2. Identify and explain (using textual references) how at least two of the
following literary terms are used (Motif, Allusion, Mood, Foreshadowing,
Imagery, Setting, Point of View, and Symbol).
a. Motifs/Symbols to look for: monsters, light, fire, weather
3. Explain the role of characterization, and/or character development for at
least one character (choose a different character each time). Explain how
this character is either round, flat, dynamic, static, a foil, or a catalyst. Use
text references to help you do this.
4. Identify and explain an example of one of the novel’s two genres (Romantic,
Gothic). Write down a specific example with a brief description of how it
represents the genre’s ideals.
5. Include at least 2 textual references to theme. Possible themes include:
a. Knowledge can be dangerous.
b. Nature can restore humanity.
c. Nature and civilization conflict.
d. Trouble occurs when passion outweighs responsibility.
e. Unchecked ambition can lead to evil.
This log is meant to help you deepen your understanding of, and connection to, the text.
Your grade will depend on the thoroughness of your response. Remember that I will not
accept late logs.
Frankenstein Literary Terms Glossary
Allusion—An indirect reference to something (usually a literary text) with which the reader is
expected to be familiar. Allusions are usually literary, historical, Biblical, or mythological.
Characterization—The method an author uses to develop characters in a work. In direct
charachterization, the author straightforwardly states the character’s traits. With indirect
characterization, those traits are implied through what the character says, does, how the character
dresses, interacts with other characters, etc.
Round Character—A character drawn with sufficient complexity to be able to surprise
the reader without losing credibility.
Flat Character—A character constructed around a single idea or quality; a flat character
is immediately recognizable.
Dynamic Character—A Round character that undergoes some kind of change because
of the action in the plot
Static— A character that does not change throughout the work, and the reader’s
knowledge of that character does not grow
Foil—A character whose traits are the opposite of another and who thus points up the s
trengths and weaknesses of the other character.
Catalyst— A catlyst is someone (or an event) that causes change.
Foreshadowing— An author’s use of hints or clues to suggest events that will occur later in the
story. Not all foreshadowing is obvious. Frequently, future events are merely hinted at through
dialogue, description, or the attitudes and reactions of the characters.
Frame story – A story written within a story.
Imagery—The use of images, especially in a pattern of related images, often figurative, to create
a strong unified sensory impression.
Mood—An atmosphere created by a writer's word choice (diction) and the details selected.
Syntax is also a determiner of mood because sentence strength, length, and complexity affect
Motif—A frequently recurrent character, incident, or concept in literature.
Point of View—The perspective from which a fictional or nonfictional story is told. First-person,
third-person, or third-person omniscient points of view are commonly used.
Setting—Locale and period in which the action takes place.
Symbol – An object or thing that represents a larger idea.
Theme – an author’s message about the topic of the story; a universal idea.