Tag Archives: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The Final Exam, Annotated

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I pulled out a few choice sentences that students wrote for my English 10 final exam, which consisted mostly of an essay on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. 

The monster ended up going on a killing spree because he read The Grapes of Wrath and got the wrong idea about human kind.

I have no idea how this particular student conflated Steinbeck’s novel with Milton’s Paradise Lost. The monster in Shelley’s novel had skills, no doubt, but time traveling was not one of them, as far as I can tell.

Then someone else gets killed because everyone thought she had killed everyone that was dying.

Killed to death, as they say, for dying too much. I don’t know who “she” is. Maybe this student holds the author responsible for all the death and destruction. That’s fair.

Here’s a pretty astute craft observation about Mary Shelley’s tone:

So it shows tone because in some sentences it has capitals for all the letters if someone is yelling. If they are just talking it’s normal writing, and if someone is whispering then the letters are smaller than the rest.

Indeed. I had not noticed before that everything the monster says in this novel is in all capital letters. No wonder I felt like I was being yelled at. How did I miss this?

Without teachers there would be no life. We would just be a big sack of potatoes.

I’m so happy to know that I am responsible for my students not becoming sacks of potatoes. Career win.

The monster learning to be good and kind was sort of pointless if he’s just gonna go around strangling people.

Indubitably. All that goodness gone to waste.

Here’s another craft observation, more heart-felt than brainy:

The writer’s choice is to mostly write words that hit your feels and make you think awhile on the life you have.

I know this holds true for me. The first time I read this novel (I was about 35), I got hit in the feels all over. I, too, like this next student, was making powerful personal connections:

My father had not made me very happy in my life. And I felt the same way the monster did at this point. The only difference is that I did not go and kill his whole family.

My connections weren’t about my deadbeat dad. My dad was anything but deadbeat. I was the deadbeat dad, although, truth be told, I wasn’t a dad at the time. I just, in those years, felt more like the mad scientist than the monster; in other words, I was the bad guy.

Here’s some inventive historical context:

Frankenstein is an 1818 novel in a time of pitchforks and torches.

Oh, those were the days. You couldn’t spit in any direction without hitting a pitchfork or a torch. Kind of like coffee shops today, or, in Oregon, pot dispensaries.

And then, apropos not of Shelley, but Galway Kinnell:

This poem is about eating blackberries and I don’t know why anyone would write a poem about that.

Crazy poets.

 

 

 

 

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#306: Letters to His Sister (Point of View Cluster in Frankenstein)

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Q: Hey kids, what’s the point of view in this here novel? You know, who speaks and to whom are they speaking?

A: Well, Walton, he’s the speaker, and he’s writing letters to his sister. But at some point, Victor is speaking to Walton who is writing letters to his sister, but then, Elizabeth is speaking through a letter to Victor who is speaking to Walton who is writing letters to his sister, and then, at another point, Victor’s father Alphonse is speaking through a letter to Victor who is speaking to Walton who is writing letters to his sister, and then, still later, the monster is speaking to Victor who is relaying all of this to Walton who is writing letters to his sister. And Victor, of course, has a photographic memory, not a detail is omitted; and Walton, obviously, has serious-mad dictation skills, doesn’t miss a single beat in those letters to his sister.

 

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#110: Shameless Self-Promotion (An Advertisement Poem)

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The NaPoWriMo website today suggests that we try an advertisement poem. That’s an actual thing, apparently.  As an example, the NaPoWriMo curator provides Exhibit A:

Said Farmer Brown
Who’s bald on top
“Wish I could
Rotate the crop”
Burma-Shave

So rather than create a poem advertising Burma Shave or a made-up product or some thing I dig and would like to promote, I thought, why not promote my own bad self and write an advertisement poem for my novel, Monster TalkIt’s terrible  poetry, but I hope it will have an effect–because I could use the revenue.

Shameless Self-Promotion: An Advertisement Poem

My elevator pitch:

the end of Frankenstein
was such a bitch
somewhere I wish that I could find
a story just as rich.
Monster Talk

The creature, in perfect health,
through his eloquent speech
convinces himself
to come back from frozen beach:
Monster Talk

Makes his own bride
and comes to the new world
to begin a new life
with his creature girl.
Monster Talk

Two hundred years later
a child is born of human parents
descended from parents greater
and becomes their heir apparent:
Monster Talk

The story of a boy’s adventure
learning to read and learning to love.
And in these endeavors he finds some danger
and must find the strength to rise above.
Monster Talk

It’s a book you won’t be able to shelf
about a boy who’s less monster than charmer
Don’t you owe it to yourself
to read this novel by Michael Jarmer?
Monster Talk

Click on any of the hyperlinks
in this little poem,
and Monster Talk will be delivered
directly to your home.

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