Book Study 4: Frankenstein by Mary Shelly Intermediate/Advanced English Lesson

During 2024 we are going to do a series of English lessons related to famous authors and their books. One of the regular peices of advice I give to all of my students is that one of the best ways to advance your vocabulary and understand another culture is to read.  Reading expands your knowledge, increases your knowledge of the English language and how we use it and opens your world. When I ask my students the question: “Do you read?” invariably, they say no. Unfortunately, the internet seems to have killed books.  DOWNLOAD the BOOK HERE

Grammar included:  “Varied”

Book Study Four:

Frankenstein by Mary Shelly

Chapter One:  Background to Frankenstein

The narrative is structured as a story within a story, with the outer tale consisting of letters written by Captain Robert Walton, an Arctic explorer seeking scientific breakthroughs. He and his crew discover Victor Frankenstein, who is on the brink of freezing to death. From this point, the narrative alternates between Victor’s account and the Creature’s perspective.

Now let’s recap any new vocabulary:

Synonyms:  (A breakthrough): a discovery.

Synonyms: (On the brink):  at the beginning or something is about to happen.


In the following sentence from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, identify the dependent clause:   “The world was to me a secret, which I desired to discover.”


Video Listening Section:  Watch the 5 minute video and answer the four questions below:


            1. What does the word “chilling” mean?
            2. Were Dr. Frankenstein and monster the same person in the book?
            3. How does he bring the monster to life? What was the word used in the video?
            4. What does the verb “to banish” mean?
            5. What were the names of Mary’s parents?
            6. Mary Eloped with Percy (her husband) when she was 16 years old. What does the verb “to elope” mean”?

Section Two:

During his early years, Victor is a curious individual fascinated by ancient alchemists, but later shifts his attention to hard sciences under his father’s guidance. After his mother’s passing, he becomes fixated on bringing inanimate matter to life. In his research, he employs galvanic electricity – a technique that was considered capable of resurrecting the dead during Shelley’s era and led to the invention of batteries.

Now let’s recap any new vocabulary:

Synonyms: (His mothers passing):  To die.

Synonyms: (resurrecting the dead): Bring back to life.

Grammar Q2:

Identify and analyze the use of the passive voice in this quote from the novel: “It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils.”

Section Three:

Victor succeeds in animating the Creature but is horrified by his creation and runs away. Upon returning to his laboratory much later, he discovers that the Creature has disappeared. His friend Henry Clerval cares for him as he recuperates from the emotional consequences of his actions.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Victor, the Creature escapes into the forest where it learns language and literacy by observing a nearby family. However, realizing its unique existence causes it distress, and when it finally reveals itself to the family, they react with terror. This drives the Creature away and fuels its anger towards Victor for creating him.

Now let’s recap any new vocabulary:

Synonyms: (Animating the creature): bring to life.

Synonyms: (Recuperates): To recover from illness.

Grammar Q3:

In this excerpt from Frankenstein, find an example of a complex sentence and explain the relationship between its independent and dependent clauses: “When I looked around, I saw and heard of none like me; was I then a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled, and whom all men disowned?”

Section Four:

Victor journeys to Geneva and learns about his brother William’s murder and nanny Justine’s alleged involvement in the crime. Upon encountering the Creature in the woods, Victor suspects him as the real culprit. The Creature then presents Victor with a request: to create a companion for him so he can live with someone like himself, promising that they will leave Victor alone. Victor traverses Europe alongside Henry to acquire necessary materials and knowledge for creating another being but ultimately backs out at the last moment. Angered by this decision, the Creature murders Henry and warns Victor that he will accompany him on his wedding night.

Now let’s recap any new vocabulary:

Synonyms: (Upon encountering): seeing him in a place.

Synonyms: (The real culprit): The real person that did it.

Grammar Q4:

Analyze the use of parallelism in this passage from the novel: “His limbs were nearly frozen, and his body dreadfully emaciated by fatigue and suffering; but the spirit of life had not entirely deserted him.”


Parallelism in English grammar refers to the practice of maintaining a consistent structure and balance throughout a sentence, particularly when dealing with lists, clauses, or phrases. By ensuring that comparable elements in a sentence share the same grammatical form, parallelism enhances readability and clarity.

For example, consider the sentence:  “John likes reading books, playing tennis, and to draw.”  This sentence is not parallel, as the three actions have different grammatical forms. A parallel version would be:  “John likes reading books, playing tennis, and drawing.”  In this improved sentence, all three activities are presented as gerunds (-ing verbs), creating a more coherent and balanced structure.

Section Five:

When Victor ties the knot with his stepsister and childhood friend Elizabeth, he remains vigilant during their wedding night. However, he is still unable to prevent the Creature from killing her. Victor’s father eventually succumbs to grief and despair after losing so many loved ones, prompting Victor to swear that he will hunt down the Creature and destroy it.

Synonyms: (Tie the knot): Get married.

Synonyms: (To succumb):  Becomes.

Grammar Q5:

Examine the sentence structure in this line from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and determine whether it is comprised of an independent clause or a dependent clause: “Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture as they were unfolded to me are among the earliest sensations I can remember.”

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