Empathy Through The Eyes of the Creature: A Journey Into Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

byHarriet J. Garcia

My curriculum unit uses the study of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to explore the power and danger of stereotypes, prejudice, and ostracism in society, specifically in the teen community. While Shelley uses a fictional "creature" as the victim of social judgment and cruelty, there are many examples of the "other" and "different" among the adolescents in our schools. There are a myriad of "different" traits that young people use to prejudge their peers: skin color, birthmarks, and physical disabilities are just a few of the markers of "abnormality" for our young teens. The imperative questions students must consider are: Do I take the time to listen to this person's words, to get to know them, to have a genuine chance at knowing a person? Are my eyes my only measurement of what I will know/assume about a person? Will his or her appearance be valid enough for me to make a judgment of someone? The genre of gothic literature, the elements of Romanticism in literature, the parallels between Mary Shelley and her novel, the use of epistolary narration and first person retrospective point of view, and character development are just a few of the elements we'll cover in this unit.

(Developed for World Literature/English IV, grade 12: recommended for World Literature/English IV, grade 12)

Comments (1)

    Kara Rosenberg (U-32, Montpelier, VT)
    Subject taught: English, Grade: 12
    Question about Unit Assessment
    I\'m incredibly interested in this approach to Frankenstein as it meshes well with my understanding of the novel. I\'m a little confused about the \"five incidents\" referred to. Does the author of the unit plan mean that she chooses incidents from the novel for the characters to interact over or that she invents new incidents? Is the assignment designed to have the letters be written in response to each other (i.e. one student must write first and the other must react)? I would very much appreciate this information as I\'m planning for a Frankenstein unit as we speak.

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