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Romanticism is more a movement and artistic attitude than an era, but the years between 1798

when Wordsworth’s Lyrical Ballads appeared and 1850 when Wordsworth died and Tennyson

became poet laureate of England are roughly associated with the English brand of Romanticism.

The movement pervades our culture today, especially in rock and pop music, theater, and

popular television.


Romantics were obsessed with the uniqueness of the individual and how that individual forges an

identity in a world that is both beautiful and tragic. Romanticism derives its energy from rebellion.

The Romantic hero is an innovator, an explorer, and a seeker, and his experiments often bring

him in opposition to conventional morality. Above all, the Romantic hero is an artist, a creative

being who transforms the raw materials of existence into beautiful (and often macabre) works of



Characteristics of Romanticism


The Romantic Hero


The full text of the novel:



Text of the novel for NOOK or other EPUB readers:



Text of the novel for KINDLE:




Key Terms


BILDUNGSROMAN (Germ. "formation novel"): The German term for a coming-of-age story. Also called an Erziehungsroman. For more information, see coming-of-age story.


Frame Narrative, or frame story: 1) a story that connects and relates a series of disparate stories (The Canterbury Tales). 2) a "story within a story," where a narrative is interrupted in order for a character in the story to tell a story. In Frankenstein, Robert Walton's narrative frames Victor Frankenstein's, which in turn frames the monster's.  In the middle of the novel, there are 4 simultaneous narrators: Walton, Frankenstein, the monster, and de Lacey.  The same technique is used in Wuthering Heights.

Play Frankenstein Jeopardy

Play Another Round of Jeopardy

The Monster's Court


The monster is suing Victor. The monster wants a judge to force Victor to create a female companion for him.


The monster’s claims:

  • He is a person under the law.

  • As a person, he has a right to mate and reproduce.

  • Since Victor is the only person with the ability to fulfill this right, Victor must be compelled to provide him with a suitable partner.


Victor’s counter-claims:

  • The monster is not a person under the law. He is a failed scientific experiment that must be terminated.

  • As a non-person, he has no more right to marry and reproduce as a broken machine.

  • As the person who perfected the ability to reanimate dead tissue, Victor is the owner of the technology and of the monster and will dispose of them as he sees fit.



Karass Conversations


Chapters 1-4

  • What does “belief in the marvellous” entail? What does Walton mean by “marvellous”?
  • Evaluate Frankenstein’s upbringing and early education.
  • Based on these beginning chapters, how are Frankenstein and Walton alike?
  • Resolved: Human beings have the right and the obligation to delve into the deepest mysteries of life and to harness the power of nature.
  • Resolved: Human beings have the right and the obligation to recognize and respect limits on human knowledge and power.



Burning Questions for Karass Conversations


  • The subtitle of the novel is "The Modern Prometheus." Why?   
  • What do the monster and Victor have in common?           
  • How are Walton, Victor, and the monster Romantic heroes?
  • Does the monster have a right to a mate?
  • Is the monster a person?
  • How can the monster be understood as a work of art?  
  • It is ironic that...

Quotes for analysis on the quiz: 


Choose any two (2) passages and write a paragraph for each showing how the passage is relevant to one of the karass discussion questions below or a characteristic of Romanticism. 20 points each.

    The subtitle of the novel is "The Modern Prometheus." Why?   
    What do the monster and Victor have in common?
    How are Walton, Victor, or the monster Romantic heroes?

Your paragraph needs to

  •     show how the quote is relevant
  •     be text rooted
  •     end with the sentence, “It is ironic that...” or “The paradox inherent in the passage is...”
  •     be at least 3 sentences

5 points for each bullet point

But I have one want which I have never yet been able to satisfy, and the absence of the object of which I now feel as a most severe evil. I have no friend, Margaret: when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavour to sustain me in dejection. I shall commit my thoughts to paper, it is true; but that is a poor medium for the communication of feeling. I desire the company of a man who could sympathize with me, whose eyes would reply to mine. You may deem me romantic, my dear sister, but I bitterly feel the want of a friend. I have no one near me, gentle yet courageous, possessed of a cultivated as well as of a capacious mind, whose tastes are like my own, to approve or amend my plans. How would such a friend repair the faults of your poor brother! I am too ardent in execution and too impatient of difficulties.

There is something at work in my soul which I do not understand. I am practically industrious -- painstaking, a workman to execute with perseverance and labour -- but besides this there is a love for the marvellous, a belief in the marvellous, intertwined in all my projects, which hurries me out of the common pathways of men, even to the wild sea and unvisited regions I am about to explore.

I expected this reception, said the demon. All men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us. You purpose to kill me. How dare you sport thus with life? Do your duty towards me, and I will do mine towards you and the rest of mankind. If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends.

Slave, I before reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that I have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master; obey!

Are you mad, my friend? said he. Or whither does your senseless curiosity lead you? Would you also create for yourself and the world a demoniacal enemy?  Peace, peace! Learn my miseries and do not seek to increase your own.


"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"

full text at http://www.online-literature.com/coleridge/646/

Coleridge's poem is about the ramifications of human action on the world and on others. The shooting of the albatross is random, even pointless, but it is irrevocable, and it triggers a series of consequences that makes others suffer. The mariner, like all romantic heroes, has crossed a line and must bear responsibilty for his actions. No Popean submission here-- the mariner breaks the rules.


The ancient mariner's experiences-- his suffering, his regret, and his recognition of what he has done-- make him wiser and perhaps ironically even better than he was before his adventure.


The mariner must tell his story. His narrative-- his art-- is the only remedy for the evils he has caused and witnessed. Storytelling and bearing witness are his pennances (see Oedipus, Odysseus, Dante, Gawain, and especially Hamlet's pal Horatio) and his salvation. Art saves the world and the artist. If we must follow Candide's exhortation to work, the romantics suggest that we can work best when we make art.

The story of Prometheus









Titan! to whose immortal eyes

  The sufferings of mortality

  Seen in their sad reality,

Were not as things that gods despise;

What was thy pity's recompense?

A silent suffering, and intense;

The rock, the vulture, and the chain,

All that the proud can feel of pain,

The agony they do not show,

The suffocating sense of woe,                               10

  Which speaks but in its loneliness,

And then is jealous lest the sky

Should have a listener, nor will sigh

  Until its voice is echoless.




Titan! to thee the strife was given

  Between the suffering and the will,

  Which torture where they cannot kill;

And the inexorable Heaven

And the deaf tyranny of Fate,

The ruling principle of Hate.                                   20

Which for its pleasure doth create

The things it may annihilate,

Refused thee even the boon to die:

The wretched gift eternity

Was thine -- and thou hast borne it well.

All that the Thunderer wrung from thee

Was but the menace which flung back

On him the torments of thy rack;

The fate thou didst so well foresee,

But would not to appease him tell;                        30

And in thy Silence was his Sentence,

And in his Soul a vain repentance,

And evil dread so ill dissembled

That in his hand the lightnings trembled.




Thy Godlike crime was to be kind,

  To render with thy precepts less

  The sum of human wretchedness,

And strengthen Man with his own mind;

But baffled as thou wert from high,

Still in thy patient energy,                                   40

In the endurance, and repulse

  Of thine impenetrable Spirit,

Which Earth and Heaven could not convulse,

  A mighty lesson we inherit:

Thou art a symbol and a sign

  To Mortals of their fate and force;

Like thee, Man is in part divine,

  A troubled stream from a pure source;

And Man in portions can foresee

His own funereal destiny;                               50

His wretchedness, and his resistance,

And his sad unallied existence:

To which  his Spirit may oppose

Itself -- and equal to  all woes,

  And a firm will, and a deep sense,

Which even in torture can descry

  Its own concenter'd recompense,

Triumphant where it dares defy,

And making Death a Victory.


George Gordon, Lord Byron




Note the inverted syntax in lines 1-4. How does this rhetorical device establish the tone of the poem?


















What is the effect of the repeated rhymes here-- fate, hate, create, annihilate?



Note the oxymoron "wretched gift."














Note the shift in tone here.













How are people like Prometheus? How is he a symbol and a sign of our fate and force?








What is a "concenter'd recompense"?








Selections from Paradise Lost Book 10


Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould Me man? Did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me?—
Paradise Lost (x. 743-5)

Is the monster a person?


AP-style character analysis





Character Analysis AP Lit Exam


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