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Frankenstein Anticipation Guide

    Frankenstein Anticipation Guided FEATURED

    This Frankenstein anticipation guide prepares students to read the original novel by Mary Shelley.  Activate prior knowledge, engage with key theme subjects, create interest, and set purpose for reading.

    The printable Frankenstein Anticipation Guide PDF follows the preview images.

    Preparing your students for Mary Shelley’s masterpiece: Frankenstein Anticipation Guide

    Frankenstein anticipation guide image 1 - Edited (1)

    The most important theme subjects are on the front page of the handout.  Some teachers might only use page one.  If students will be discussing the statements in groups, some will finish more quickly than others.  You can bring the class back together to discuss the first statements even if some groups did not finish.

    Here is the second page of the Frankenstein Anticipation Guide PDF:

    Frankenstein anticipation guide image 2 - Edited (1)

    Related Post: 15 Frankenstein Pre-reading Activities

    Print or download: Frankenstein Anticipation Guide (PDF)

    Scroll down to cut and paste the handout statements from this page.

    Key subjects addressed in the Frankenstein Anticipation Guide

    Science Fiction

    Many consider Mary Shelley the inventor of science fiction as we know it.  Of course, science fiction is not for everyone, or is it? Introduce students to the idea that science fiction can be important literature.  Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is modern science fiction as it is a cautionary tale imagining what could go wrong with developments under way.


    The novel warns against blind ambition, especially ambition that may result in unintended consequences.  Dr. Frankenstein’s ambitions lead him down a dehumanizing path.  He isolates himself from a wholesome life.  More importantly, his ambitions may have disastrous results for humankind.  This theme subject aligns to the Romantic view on opposing reason, science, and dehumanizing industry.

    Nature vs. Nurture

    Shelley relates the philosophies of John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau with her hypothetical creature.  Based on current psychological understanding, the creature would be considered a sociopath.  He does not have a physiological reason for committing murder, he is a murderer because of personal experiences.  Rousseau believed that humans were naturally good before becoming depraved.

    Science and Industry

    The debate over the consequences of technological development surrounds us.  The Romantics argued against the dehumanizing effects of the industrial revolution and Shelley wondered what unintended disasters could develop from scientific experiments.  Students might discuss topics like climate change, internet addiction, designer genetics, and the like.

    The Value of Passion

    The Romantics expressed the desirability of overwhelming emotion.  For them, being overcome by horror, joy, or anger was really living. A stuffy, well-ordered life was beneath them.  Again, this is a response to the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason.

    Related post: Frankenstein Unit Plan for High School

    Frankenstein Unit FEATURED


    We may feel like humans’ shallow focus on beauty is something new, but hasn’t this always been the case?  Shelley both accepts and rejects the importance of beauty in Frankenstein.  The beauty of characters like Elizabeth and Justine are outward expressions of their virtue and value.  On the other hand, the creature could have been of noble character if not for the reactions to his appearance.

    Natural Settings

    Both the doctor and his creature find solace in the natural world.  Shelley believes that human beings are their best selves beside tranquil lakes and atop majestic mountains.  This is a recurring theme in Romanticism.  Current work in psychology on the therapeutic value of nature confirms the view held by Thoreau, Shelley, Cope, and the other Romantics.


    “Seek revenge and you should dig two graves, one for yourself.”


    By the end of the novel, both the doctor and the creature are consumed with revenge.  Both attain their goals (the death of the other), but neither profits by it.


    “I am thy creature: I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed.”

    “I created a rational creature and was bound towards him to assure, as far as was in my power, his happiness and well-being.”

    Shelley puts Dr. Frankenstein on trial in the mind of the reader for dereliction of duty.  The doctor’s parents serve as a contrast in exhibiting conscientious parenting.  When it comes to his own creation, Dr. Frankenstein only recognizes his obligation when he is near death.

    Mystery, Suspense, Tension, and Surprise

    As the unit progresses, students will be analyzing structural effects on the reader.  In the original writing contest, the Shelleys and Byron aimed to create a thrilling story of terror.  I think it is safe to say that Shelley succeeded.

    The Monster

    The students may feel that they already have pretty clear picture of Mary Shelley’s monster before reading the original novel.  While the pop culture versions of the creature are fun, interesting, and even ingenious, it is important that students anticipate some key differences.  Mary Shelley’s creature is thoughtful, sophisticated, persuasive, and pitiable.  In some ways, the creature is the Romantic hero.

    Putting the Frankenstein Anticipation Guide into a lesson

    Lesson: Nobody says, “It’s Alive!” (anticipation guide)

    Key standard: SL1 Comprehension and Collaboration (discussion)

    SL9-10.1 “Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.”


    What do you know or think about Dr. Frankenstein and his monster?  Think about everything from Halloween costumes to movies to books.

    “It’s Alive! – Frankenstein Movie Clip” (4 minutes) from Universal

    While films like these are fun and often ingenious, we should probably forget all about them when we read the original novel by Mary Shelley.


    Frankenstein’s monster is now a cultural icon, but the original novel is a thought-provoking and influential piece of Romantic literature.  The novel highlights the themes of the Romantic movement in opposing the inhumanity of reason, science, and industrial society. For many, Frankenstein is the first example of science fiction as we know it.

    Key theme subjects in Frankenstein:

    • Rebellion
    • Compassion
    • Appearances
    • Playing God
    • Personality development
    • Hubris / excessive pride
    • Nature
    • Science / industry
    • Justice
    • Knowledge / discovery
    • Revenge
    • Fate
    • Guilt
    • Isolation
    • Companionship
    • Parenthood
    • Ambition
    • Evil

    If your unit will end with a culminating task, introduce the task now.  Let students know what they can do as they study the novel to prepare for success.  Encourage students to “cheat” by taking notes on symbolism, a specific theme, characterization, or whatever final task will address.

    Group discussion:

    1. Complete the Frankenstein Anticipation Guide on your own.
    2. Share and discuss your responses.
    3. Choose one of your discussions to share with the whole class.

    Anticipation guide discussion topics:

    Science fiction, ambition, nature vs. nurture, the value of science and industry, emotions, appearances, spending time in nature, revenge, parenthood, narrative effects, and prior knowledge of Frankenstein’s monster.

    Connected reading: “How a Teenage Girl Became the Mother of Horror”  (3 pages) from National Geographic

    Connected reading: “How Romanticism rebelled against cold-hearted rationality” (4 page) from The Conversation

    Helpful clip: “Everything you need to know to read Frankenstein (6 minutes) from TED-Ed; Clip previews the plot and gives historical context.


    Based on today’s discussion, make some wild guesses about how the original Frankenstein will be different from what is shown in popular culture.

    Which of the discussion prompts is most interesting to you? Explain.

    Which theme subject will you address in your culminating task? Why did you select this theme subject?

    Frankenstein anticipation guide statements

    “Science fiction is purely for entertainment.  You cannot learn or think about anything important through reading science fiction.”

    “The most important thing in life is to be an important person.  Achieving greatness is even more important that enjoying life, having friends, or acting morally.”

    “People are shaped by their experiences.  The way a person thinks and acts is mainly a result of how life has treated them.”

    “Science and industry lead to disaster.  Humankind would be happier if we lived simpler lives in harmony with nature.”

    “It is important to feel emotions powerfully.  Whether you are feeling guilt, love, sadness, horror, or joy, you should go big.”

    “The way someone looks is not really important.”

    “I enjoy spending time in nature. Spending time in nature is good for my mental health.”

    “Revenge is completely pointless.  Nothing can be gained through it.”

    “Parents have a duty to love their children no matter what.”

    “I enjoy stories that include mystery, suspense, tension, and surprise.”

    “I can already describe the monster of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.”

    Thank you for checking out this resource.

    If you have found the Frankenstein Anticipation Guide PDF helpful, check out some of my other resources for teaching the novel.

    More posts on teaching Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

    Downloadable Frankenstein resources from TeachNovels