An "Increase of Knowledge": Composing the Analytical Essay for "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein"

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SWBAT analyze select passages in "Frankenstein" through specific literary lenses as they prepare to compose an analytical essay for their respective lenses.

Big Idea

"I shall commit my thoughts to paper." the Creature in "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein"

Teacher to Teacher: Lesson Context and Time Frame

This is the culminating lesson in our study of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. To assist students in the timed write and to insure they focus on their respective lenses, I decide to prepare documents for each lens that include passages from the romance appropriate for student analysis.Frankenstein Lens Passages shows the excerpts I used.  Additionally, I decide to give students time to turn and talk to one another about the passages before they compose their papers. 

In this lesson students will 

  • Read passages from Frankenstein that speak to their literary lens,
  • Meet in pairs or small groups to discuss the passages and the ways they reflect the lens,
  • Compose their analytical essays in a time-write format.

Students will need to use several documents in this lesson: the literary lens chart they have worked with throughout the unit, the handout introducing the essay assignment, the color-coded document appropriate to their lens. 

Color-Coding Lenses: Introducing the Lesson

10 minutes

At the beginning of the period (as students enter the room), I distribute the assignment sheet and the color-coded passages for each literary lens: Color-Coded Literary Lens Passages and Frankenstein Essay Prompt.

I then read through the assignment with students and remind them that an essay has a beginning, a middle, and an end and that the thesis needs to be at the end of the introduction. Additionally, I caution students not to succumb to the five-paragraph essay formula. 

Next, I have students look at the Lit Crit Chart and suggest that they find one or two characteristics of the lens that fit with the passages or one of their choice as they compose their essays. I tell students that I don't want them to attempt to talk about all the characteristics of the lens in their essays. I remind them that their papers will be stronger if they narrow the focus. 

Then I ask students to be sure they have the correct document for their lens. 

Prewriting by Pre-Talking

20 minutes

Before students write, I have them meet with other students who have their lens. I tell them to read through the passage and annotate it together. I suggest that they talk about what they want to put into their essays and that they make notes on the document so that they remember the ideas they talked about later as they write. Talking Lenses Before Writing shows two students collaborating on their lens. Makayla, the student featured notes specific characteristics of the lens and connects these to the text. She is speaking with a student who has found the work in this unit difficult, and as a strong reader, she can help support her peer in a collaborative conversation.

 Students Collaborate to Analyze Text Passages shows three other students forming a group so that they, too, can discuss the lens they all share in common. 

Taking Time to Time Write

45 minutes

Because this is a timed write, I give students the option of writing their papers in long-hand or on the laptops we have available today. 

They have a limited amount of time to work, so to help them stay focused, I circulate around the room and offer assistance to those who need support. Sci Fi Lens essay shows the finished timed work of one student, and Psychologica State of Frankenstein shows the essay of a student with a different lens.