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UE: ENG 215: The Monster and the Monstrous in Literature: Resources

ENG215 (Duncan) Required Readings available as Ebooks

Required readings for ENG215 -- The Monster and Monstrous in Literature

John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Handling the Undead, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2011, 0312604521


Sample Questions for Class Discussion/Testing


1. How does the epistolary form of the novel affect your reading? Why does Shelley choose to write the novel as letters by Robert Walton to his sister? What do you know about Walton? To whom is he writing?

2. Victor’s childhood and what shapes him into the person he becomes: What motivates him to make the creature? What’s his responsibility to the creature? Where do you see discussions of parenting?

3. Do you think of Victor as the creature’s parent? How does his description of his own family experience color your feelings toward him as a parent? “No human being could have passed a happier childhood than myself. My parents were possessed by the very spirit of kindness and indulgence. We felt that they were not the tyrants to rule our lot according to their caprice, but the agents and creators of all the many delights which we enjoyed.”

4. What is your opinion of Victor? Why does he reject the creature? Why does he remain silent about Justine’s innocence? What, if anything, is heroic about him?

5. How do the educations of Victor and the creature affect their identities and actions?

6. What is Mary Shelley’s message about science?

7. What is the overall message or theme of the novel?

8. Who is the monster in Frankenstein?

9. For which (if any) characters do you feel empathy? Why?

Option Two: Is the ending of the novel satisfying? Why or why not?

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

1. What connections do you see between Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

2. How does Stevenson complicate the idea of the human monster as compared to Frankenstein?

3. We commonly hear the term mad scientist and have read about two scientists who create disastrous experiments. Are Frankenstein and Jekyll insane? Or are there other explanations for their choices?

4. What is Mr. Utterson’s purpose in the story?

5. Stevenson does not describe Hyde in detail. Why do you think this is? What do you imagine him to look like?

6. What is the overall message (theme) of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

7. How does Stevenson represent the anxiety felt by the Victorians over how rapidly their culture was changing, leading to more anonymity?

8. What do we learn about the value of integrity from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

What is Stevenson’s message about science?



1. How does Stoker create a sense of disorientation?

2. How does form reinforce theme?

3.  What is the source of horror?

4. How does the novel respond to Victorian anxieties about humans’ animal nature and changing gender roles?

5. What part does choice play in Dracula?

6. Dracula is largely absent from the novel after he leaves Castle Dracula. Why do you think Stoker made this choice? What effect does Dracula’s absence have on your reading?

7. What makes Lucy more vulnerable to Dracula than Mina?

8. Where do you see animal imagery in the novel? How and why does Stoker use this animal imagery?

9. What is Minda like? How is she able to resist becoming a vampire? Why is she important to Stoker’s main message?

10. What is Renfield’s purpose?

11. Is the ending satisfying? What purpose does Jonathan Harker’s note from seven years later serve?

12. How is Dracula a novel about making sense of the world?

13. The Gothic novel often addresses a society’s anxieties. What anxieties are present in Dracula?

14. How does science succeed and fail in its attempts to deal with the supernatural?

The Metamorphosis

1. What is Kafka’s purpose?

2. What is Kafka’s view of human nature?

3. What does Kafka have to say about the values of integrity and community?

4. What are Kafka’s views of family?

5. What is the relationship between Gregor and his family?

6. What is the significance of the ending?


Handling the Undead

1. What does it mean to be alive, to be dead?

2. How does each of the characters respond to the return of the dead?

3. What is Lindqvist’s message about community?

4. How does Lindqvist use symbols in the novel?

5. What do we learn through the different perspectives?

6. Whose story (Eva, Elias, Tore) speaks to you the most? In other words, to which do you connect the most? Why?

7. What is the novel’s message about integrity?