How to Compare & Contrast Frankenstein & His Monster

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Mary Shelley's seminal work "Frankenstein" is much more than a horror story. Through the tale of Dr. Frankenstein creating his monster, the novel explores questions of what makes us human, what connects us all, and what the limits and responsibilities of science are. Many of these questions are explored through the characters of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster, which are very different on the surface but actually share many similarities.

  • Create a character sketch of both Dr. Frankenstein and his monster. This pre-writing activity will help you gain a more comprehensive understanding of each character in order to compare and contrast them. Write down everything you know about each character, including his motivations, his fears, his desires, and his ambitions. Include a synopsis of a couple of key scenes that highlight important character traits, such as the scene in which the monster asks Dr. Frankenstein to create a companion for him but the doctor refuses. Note what character traits are established through these scenes. The more comprehensive your character sketches are, the more information you will have to write your comparison and contrast of the two characters.

  • Make a list of similarities between the two characters. Despite their outward appearances, Dr. Frankenstein and his monster are more alike than they might seem. Both characters feel alienated from society, and both commit heinous acts out of a sense of injustice. Both also seek to be loved. In noting their similarities, it is important to provide an analysis of the underlying character traits or circumstances that create them.

  • Highlight the differences between Dr. Frankenstein and his monster. The most obvious differences are physical. The monster is very large and hideous, while Dr. Frankenstein is of normal height and appearance. Beyond that, there are a number of other differences. For example, though both feel alienated from society, Dr. Frankenstein actively hides away from others while the monster seeks to be accepted but is shunned. Explore these and other differences in their characters to provide a complete analysis.

  • Consider biographical details. Early chapters of the book are devoted to explaining what Dr. Frankenstein's early life was like. It included a loving family and an elevated social status. This information contrasts directly with what life was like for Frankenstein's monster, which was horrible right from the start. The monster does not receive love or nurturing. Instead, he is cast out immediately and abandoned. The biographical information for Dr. Frankenstein and his monster provides key details for comparing and contrasting their characters.

  • Explore the themes. Besides just looking at the characters of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster, it is important to understand their roles in the larger themes of the book. These themes include the responsibility of science and the nature of humanity. Compare and contrast the characters within the context of these themes. For example, when considering the theme of the responsibility of science, you can explore Dr. Frankenstein's representation of the scientific community and the monster's representation of the failure of ethics.

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