Teaching the Monster: Frankenstein and Critical Thinking
Abstract

Abstract:

Student readers often switch, with a taste for the unambiguous, from presuming Mary Shelley's monster to be wholly bad, to exonerating him completely, and sometimes swinging back to "evil." Both sympathy and condemnation—the "whose fault is it" debate—curtail the kind of critical thinking and application that is the goal of most of the courses in which Frankenstein is taught. The students' imagination of the heart and the professor's conceptual framework, sympathy and analysis, run parallel to and often counteract or resist each other. This essay proposes the importance of emphasizing the monster himself, returning to the monster as a monster, refusing to allow him to melt into a symbol in the classroom; it further suggests a practice of "teaching the monster" as a pedagogy of alienation that can be applied beyond Frankenstein.