English 112
Developing a Research Paper Topic General Topics to Consider: Potential questions to respond to:

1.  Compare the treatment of the figure of the Promethean overreacher in Byron's "Prometheus" and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Do these two texts portray these figures (Prometheus and Victor Frankenstein) in the same way? Is the author's expressed (implicit or explicit) attitude toward these figure the same or different? How so? Explain by using very specific references to the poem and novel, quoting specific passages to support your claims.

2.  Develop a comparison involving three (3) of the characters in Shelley's novel in terms of their relationship to Nature. How do their views of or interaction with Nature influence what these characters do in the novel and what eventually happens to them? Explain by using very specific references to the novel, quoting specific passages to support your claims.

3.  The word "doppelgänger" was used repeatedly in our discussion.  Explain the degree to which both Clerval and the Creature can be seen as doppelgängers for Victor, discussing such issues as relationship to Nature, relationship to Women, and view of Self in your discussion.  Be sure to include quotes from Victor that describe his view of the similarities between himself and each of the other two figures. (Helpful Link)

4.  Describe the criminal justice system presented in this novel, using the three examples of William's murder, Clerval's murder, and Elizabeth's murder, as well as the official responses to these acts, in your discussion.  Is it a fair system? Do all crimes get investigated in the same way?  Do some people receive preferential treatment? If so, who? What characteristics determine the treatment the different suspects receive?  Incorporate your responses to these questions into a smooth discussion.  Do NOT just answer the questions in order.  Make sure to include quotes describing each of these situations. (Potentially Useful Essays)

5.  An important concept that we discussed was the relationship between appearance and reality. Describe what this relationship is, using the examples of three different characters, including Victor, the Creature, and one other figure.  Are these figures always "what they seem"? What factors contribute to the distinction between appearance and reality?  Incorporate your responses to these questions into a smooth discussion, using quotes to describe each of the three characters. (Potentially Useful Essay)

6.  Explain the significance of the dream Victor has the night that he succeeds in bringing life to his creation. Explain the symbolism of the images involved  in terms of the themes presented in the work as a whole.  You should incorporate discussion of Victor's view of and relationship to Family, Women, and Sexuality in your discussion, using quotes from other parts of the novel to support your discussion. (Helpful Link)

7.  In what ways is Frankenstein a gothic novel?  Describe at least  three different characteristics of gothic literature that are exemplified by the novel, being sure to provide extensive examples from the novel to support your claims.

8. Explain the similarities and differences with regards to the relationship between Victor and Elizabeth and Safie and Felix.  How does each man view his "partner"?

9. Compare the relationships between Victor and his father and that between Victor and his creature.  What are the similarities and differences?  You may wish to consider Victor's question to Clerval--"How could you suppose that my first thoughts would not fly towards those dear, dear friends whom I love, and who are so deserving of my love?" (65)--in light of the fact that his first thoughts do not "fly" there.

10.  What are the similarities and differences involved in the comparison between the relationships involving Victor & Elizabeth and the Creature and his potential female mate?  How do Victor and the Creature view their "partners" and their future "married" lives?  Look specifically at the discussion between Victor and the Creature at the end of the second section.

11. Why does the Creature frame Justine for the murder of William? What does this say about the way he has learned to view women?  What does this say about the criminal justice system and society in general?

12.  What is the function of solitude in Frankenstein?  Look specifically at Victor and the Creature.  Do they have the same view of solitude? Does it have the same effect on them? Explain.

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