A Frankenstein essay is a relatively short text that presents a text-based analysis of a particular element, theme, or idea related to Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein. As Frankenstein is one of the most popularly assigned texts in introductory and lower-level English and literature classes, Frankenstein essays are likely assignments in such classes.
A Frankenstein essay is assigned so that students can present their individual analyses of the novel while synthesizing what they have learned through class discussions and background reading. However, students must remember that Frankenstein essays and other college articles on particular literary works cannot simply present the student's ideas and opinions about the novel. Reports on works of literature must be text-based, meaning that every interpretation the student presents must be supported with evidence from the text. For instance, a student cannot assert that Shelley's monster suffers from bipolar disorder based on the knowledge of bipolar disorder he or she has acquired in his or her psychology class. Every interpretation put forward in the report must be defended using multiple examples from the text itself.
Writing a text-based essay requires the writer to first be a critical reader. Critical reading involves paying attention to not only the action of a work, but also the way in which the work is written, and underlining, highlighting, and making notes of important passages. These passages will later serve as the quotations and paraphrases used. Sometimes, it is necessary for a learner to go through the novel again after he or she has determined his or her topic. This does not require a complete re-read, but merely a skim to unearth important passages or stylistic features that the writer needs for his or her assignment.
Frankenstein essays can be on a variety of topics; the only requirements are that the topic contributes to the understanding of the novel, and that the report itself is based in textual analysis. To determine a topic, the student should first select a theme or motif from the novel. For instance, the writer may decide to write his or her Frankenstein essay on the novel's commentary on scientific progress. Then, the writer should pick a particular literary element, stylistic characteristic, event, or character novel through which he or she will explore that theme. For instance, the writer may wish to analyze the portrayal of progress through Shelley's use of diction and figurative language. This essay would then focus on how the diction and figurative language used in the novel contributes to the reader's understanding of the novel's commentary on scientific progress. This would be a text-based analysis, as it would require the writer to point to specific uses of diction and figurative language throughout the text, and would comment on what each of those uses indicates about the idea of scientific progress put forth.
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