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Writing Help (formatting, templates, and writing samples): Sample Assignment

APA, MLA, Chicago styleguide help; sample assignment, templates, etc.

The Assignment

The Assignment is to read and critically reflect on Shelley's Frankstein, and whether the weather of the time influenced the writer.

Questions you might ask yourself:

  • When was Frankenstein written? (not when published)
  • What was the weather like in the location used to write Frankenstein?
  • Was there anything unusual?
  • How might this have influenced the author's writing?

Mary Shelley's Letter Home

Here's a letter to her sister: "One night we enjoyed a finer storm than I had ever before beheld. The lake was lit up — the pines on Jura made visible and all the scene illuminated for an instant, when a pitchy blackness succeeded, and the thunder came in frightful bursts over our heads amid the darkness."

The creature in Frankenstein is strongly associated with these thunderstorms. And, Bill Phillips says, the creature is also linked to cold throughout the novel.  "He invariably meets his creator at the tops of mountains, in icy caves," he says. "Then at the end of the novel, they go into the Arctic Ocean and we're led to believe that they die as they drift off on an ice floe." 

Research you might do

  • Read the text of Frankenstein carefully for clues
  • Research unusual weather phenomenon or natural disasters from that time
  • Search the library's Literature Research Critcism (LRC) database for articles and books which analyze the setting, theme, etc., of Frankenstein
  • Locate a book or ebook which discusses Mary Shelley and the writing of Frankenstein
  • Locate information about Mary Shelley which provides information on when and where she wrote Frankenstein 
  • Research what types of fiction were popular readings, and which fiction books were in fashion at the time of the writing of Frankenstein

Articles on Frankenstein

Frankenstein and Mary Shelley's "wet ungenial summer"  critical analysis by Bill Phillips

Dr Polidori and the Genesis of Frankenstein by James Rieger

Selected Popular Books of the Time

Fantasmagoriana, a collection of German ghost stories translated into French

Pride and Predjudice, by Jane Austen

Grimm's Fairy Tales

Faust, by Goethe




The Gilded Age: The Influence of Frankenstein

Ghost and Horror Stories became very popular at the turn of the nineteenth century, more than 50 years after Shelley wrote Frankenstein.

Short Stories by Ambrose Bierce and Edgar Allen Poe 

Dr Jekyll and Mister Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Details of the assignment

To write a 3-5 page paper which analyzes how the weather may have influenced the writing of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

You will be graded on clarity of your writing, quality of your composition, spelling, grammar, and syntax. See Matrix for more details.


An Aside

If you ask people about weather and Frankenstein, they usually think of one thing: the scenes from the classic horror films, which show Victor Frankenstein in a storm, using lightning bolts to jumpstart his creation as he cries "It's alive! It's alive!"