Gcse English Frankenstein Essay Themes

Preparing your answer

Before beginning an answer, it is important that you plan it properly so that it is crafted and structured to the question. The bullet points that go with the question will help you to do this. You must also refer to the examiner's assessment objectives to ensure you have met the criteria.

Below is a structure that you could use for your answer:

  1. Introduction. State that ambition is a key theme in the novel.
  2. Explore what Victor's ambitions are and how he hopes to accomplish them.
  3. Explain what happens in the passage and why it is a turning point.
  4. Expand on how things continue to create Victor's nightmare scenario.
  5. Conclusion. Consider the moral the reader is supposed to understand from the novel.

Sample answers

For this example we'll look at point 3 from the above which would form the main part of an answer and which would look in detail at the given extract as the question asks you to do.

Sample answer 1

This passage takes place at night and is a turning point. This gives everything a spooky atmosphere and makes the reader feel frightened. This is Victor's big moment as he brings the body to life but he is obviously disappointed. He has wanted the Monster to be beautiful but realises that it isn't when he says, 'Beautiful! -- Great God!' Although some of it looks alright, mostly the Monster just looks horrible so I'm not surprised that Victor does not like it much. Even though he has spent two years putting the Monster together Victor realises he has wasted his time and not made his ambition. He thinks that 'the beauty of the dream vanished' and runs away from what he has created. The reader is supposed to feel sorry for Victor but also for the Monster as well.

Feedback comments – not bad but room for improvement!

  • This answer shows a fair level of understanding of the text and an attempt to develop a personal response. However, there is not enough supportive evidence quoted or analysis attempted.
  • There is a limited attempt to analyse key vocabulary or literary devices. The fact that the passage is a turning point is noted but it is not explained what this is or why it is important.
  • There is a reference to the effect on an audience but this needs development.
  • There are some awkward uses of vocabulary. Sentences are correctly constructed and punctuated but not always phrased well.

Sample answer 2

The passage that describes the Monster coming to life is a key point in the novel. Victor has been working on this particular scheme for two years and is full of anticipation about what is going to happen. However, the setting in which his final experiment takes place is foreboding and the details of the 'dreary night', the rain and the almost extinguished candle give the scene a Gothic pessimism which is at odds with the feelings he should be experiencing. There is a hint that Victor knows that all is not well when he refers to his creation as 'the lifeless thing' and this is borne out by the first physical detail mentioned, the Monster's 'dull yellow eye.' Victor asks Walton (to whom, of course, he is narrating his story) a rhetorical question: 'How can I describe my emotions...?'. This also shows he is literally lost for words to describe his feelings. They are, at this moment, too intense for him to put into words and he is robbed of the power of speech. Then the moment of realisation comes that he has failed in his ambition to create something glorious: 'Beautiful! -- Great God!' For Victor (and the reader) this is a turning point which marks a moment of change. All of Victor's hopes and grand schemes are destroyed, 'the beauty of the dream vanished' and the nightmare begins. The best that Victor can think to do is to run away and hide; throughout the rest of the novel he will continue to do so.

Feedback comments – much better!

  • There is strong evidence here of a very good understanding of the text and an informed response to Shelley's writing. References are skilfully woven into the answer and there is evidence of a wider understanding of the novel as a whole. The important details of the scene's setting are dealt with and show an understanding of how the Gothic tradition is being used.
  • There is clear evidence of language analysis and ability to use correct terminology (turning point, rhetorical question).
  • The writer's personal response to the writing could be clearer.
  • A more detailed attempt to look at the general effect of the passage on readers would further improve the answer.
  • A well-written answer which uses correct spelling, grammar and punctuation and which aims to develop complex written sentences and use advanced vocabulary.

NWriting the essay

Using the skills you have learned and revised, answer the Frankenstein question. Time yourself and make sure you are meeting the examiner's assessment objectives.

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