142 Frankenstein Essay Topics

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  • Frankenstein as a Gothic Novel and an Example of Romanticism
  • Social Disapproval in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”
  • The Modern Prometheus: Analysis of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Isolation and Loneliness in Shelley’s “Frankenstein”
  • Importance of Relationships and Family in Frankenstein
  • Companionship in “Frankenstein”: The Theme of Human Connection
  • The Self-Identity Problem in Frankenstein
  • Shelley’s Frankenstein as “The Modern Prometheus” “Frankenstein,” Mary Shelley’s famous novel, which she wrote when she was just eighteen years old, continues to captivate people all over the world.
  • Injustice in Shelley’s Frankenstein and Milton’s Paradise Lost The monster created by Mary Shelley in Frankenstein and the character of Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost are obsessed with the idea of injustice and revenge.
  • Frankenstein: A Child in the Form of the Monster Viewing the creature Frankenstein as a child will reveal that he is a victim rather than a monster because he needed assistance to meet social norms.
  • Fear of Science in “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley “Frankenstein,” Mary Shelley’s famous novel, which she wrote when she was just eighteen years old, continues to captivate people all over the world.
  • Responsibility in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” In Mary Shelley’s pen, a mad scientist’s quest for creation has a reckoning, where the shadows of responsibility loom large and the boundaries of life and death are shattered.
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bioethics Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein provides an explicit example of how playing God can be dangerous. Victor should not have created the monster, as he had no viable reason and right to do so
  • Themes in “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley Frankenstein is one of the greatest books of the nineteenth century. Shelley explores many topics in her work that reflect social and philosophical aspects.
  • Societal Monsters in Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” A special consideration requires different interpretations of social fear in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, Chinua Achebe’s literary masterpiece Things Fall Apart.
  • Themes of Knowledge and Family in Shelley’s Frankenstein This paper examines the themes of knowledge and family comprehensively to illustrate how Shelley’s narrative of Frankenstein relates to the nineteenth century.
  • Prejudice and Lost Innocence in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” raises quite a number of disturbing themes that still hold relevance for modern society.
  • Frankenstein vs. Monster: Characters Comparison This paper claims that Frankenstein’s unwillingness to accept responsibility for the fate of his creation led to his excruciating psychological suffering.
  • The Science Debate: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, appeared at a time when the science fiction genre was only at the initial stage of its emergence and development.
  • Communication with the Audience in Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein” Mary Shelly is trying to convey the information that while technology and science have an essential part in human life, the two can only go as far.
  • Feminist Connotations in Shelley’s “Frankenstein” Mary Shelley has cleverly and effectively integrated feminist connotations within the story of “Frankenstein”.
  • Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley was first published in 1818. John Wilson Croker’s review, published right after the novel was released, was negative.
  • “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley and “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley and “Lord of the flies” by William Golding share the research on how the environment influences people and their inner nature.
  • Frankenstein vs. Paradise Lost The main similarity between Adam and Frankenstein’s monster is that they both were created and both disappointed their creators.
  • Mary Shelley’s Novel Frankenstein Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein can be used for discussing the limitations of human knowledge, the inability of a person to foresee the long-term effects of one’s actions
  • Chapters 1-4 of “Frankenstein” and Suggestion of Future Events “Frankenstein” is the dramatic story of a scientist whose enthusiasm for science led to terrible consequences and personal misfortune.
  • Frankenstein Mythology and Paleontology: Comparison The thirst for knowledge is universal for many scientific fields, but the novel “Frankenstein” by Shelley illustrates how it may carry one astray.
  • “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley In Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, the monster is the creation of Victor Frankenstein that was assembled from old body parts and unknown chemicals.
  • Analyzing “Frankenstein” Written by Mary Shelly Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelly, is among the most well-known gothic novels, combining scientific and fantastic elements.
  • Who Is the Monster, or Who Are the Monsters, in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley? Primary healthcare is meeting the needs of the population (each person, family, and community) by providing medical services at the first contact with the health system.
  • Concept of the Monster in Frankenstein The paper discusses that the Monster in Frankenstein can be described as a metaphor for the relationship between humans and gods.
  • The Novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley The Novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley raises a number of questions, each defined by a difficult choice to take into consideration.
  • Romeo, Juliet, Ishmael Beah, and Victor Frankenstein This article presents the script for a play dedicated to the adventures of Romeo, Juliet, Ishmael Beah, and Victor Frankenstein.
  • The Book “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley Mary Shelley’s novel about Frankenstein and his Creature reveals many human vices and cruelty. There is also a place in the story for love and remorse.
  • “Frankenstein” Story Retold by Anna Meriano “Frankenstein” by Anna Meriano, is a fancy, captivating retelling of the worldwide known legend, the story of a creature seeking love that began in the writings of Mary Shelly.
  • Shelley’s Frankenstein: The Monster’s Description The purpose of this paper is to discuss the main characteristics of the image of the monster and understand what the author put into this image.
  • Shelley’s “Frankenstein”: Analysis of Frankenstein’s Character The story about Frankenstein and his monster raises many questions. People cannot decide what is more important in making a person, nature or nurture.
  • The Monsters We Create: Analyzing Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” “Frankenstein” addresses some of the crucial issues of scientific exploration and the juxtaposition of nature and human nature, as well as being a metaphor for ostracism.
  • Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s novel Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus addresses conventional romantic themes like isolation and beauty of nature.
  • Themes Raised in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley In Frankenstein, Shelly addresses numerous themes such as prejudice, revenge, society and isolation, nature, and death, to name just a few.
  • Analiz work “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a world-famous novel about an ambitious scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who finds out the secret of life and creates a monstrous creature from old body parts.
  • English Literature: Frankenstein by Shelley Victor Frankenstein grew up in a wealthy Swiss family. As a young man, he became interested in science and especially the theory of what gives and takes life from human beings.
  • Great Fictional Icons in the Nineteenth Century: Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus” Frankenstein is rendered in opulent Gothic prose. It delves into the intricacies of the human mind and reflects on the ambitions of man, his purpose and his relation to God.
  • The Modern Prometheus: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Almost two centuries have passed since the first publication of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Today, the monster created by Victor Frankenstein is a well-recognized character.
  • Science in Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and Condorcet’s Works This paper compares Condorcet’s opinion on human happiness and the destruction of prejudice in science with Shelley’s perspective on the role of science in human life.
  • Frankenstein and His Use of Science
  • Frankenstein: Abandonment, Loneliness, and Rejection
  • Frankenstein and Human Nature
  • The Debate Between Fate and Free Will in Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein and King Lear: A Look Into Religion, Politics, and Literature
  • Frankenstein and Male Reproduction
  • Emotion Over Reason: Frankenstein and the Great Gatsby
  • Frankenstein and Genetic Modification
  • Frankenstein and the Human Mind
  • Creature and Victor Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein and Natural Order
  • Doctor Frankenstein’s International Organization
  • Feminine Nature and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein: Embryonic Stem Cell and Curiosity
  • The Creative Symbolism Woven Into Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein and the Romantic Era
  • Frankenstein and His Creation Gone Wrong: Who Is the Real Victim Anyway
  • Frankenstein: Aesthetics and Memory Box
  • Discovering the True Nature of Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein Less Human Than His Creation
  • Frankenstein and Percy Shelley’s Moral Science
  • Frankenstein and Unforeseen Consequence
  • Family Values and Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein: Cultural Criticism Critique
  • Frankenstein and Secret Waiting
  • Biblical Adam and the Creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein and the Modern Pandora
  • Frankenstein and His Creature Are the Same People
  • Euthanasia and Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein and the Industrial Revolution
  • Frankenstein and Gothic Literature
  • Destiny and Frankenstein
  • Comparing Candide and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein and Societal Norms
  • Birth Traumas and Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein Challenging Extreme Romantic and Enlightenment
  • Comparing Frankenstein, Aylmer, and Dr. Phillips
  • Existence Issues Surrounding Frankenstein’s Monster
  • Family Relations and Alienation in Frankenstein
  • Symbolism and Autobiographical Elements in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein and Science
  • The Characters, Conflict, and Plot in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Frankenstein and His Monster
  • Frankenstein Explain How the Character of the Monster Develops
  • Dangerous Knowledge Was All Throughout the Novel Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein and the Effects of Isolation
  • Frankenstein: Lust, Love, and Sin
  • Exploring the Many Themes in the Novel Frankenstein
  • Byronic Hero: Manfred and Frankenstein
  • Sympathy for the Monster in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Faust and Victor Frankenstein: Unconcerned With Reality
  • Does Frankenstein Deserve His Fate?
  • Frankenstein and Rur: Depiction of Human Behavior
  • Frankenstein and Human Cloning
  • Dr. Victor Frankenstein and the Artificial Life
  • Frankenstein and the Role of Parents in the Process of Childs Development
  • Frankenstein and Blade Runner: Disruption and Identity
  • Ecocriticism and Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein Being More Human Than Monster
  • Frankenstein and Blade Runner: Dangerous Implications of Scientific and Technological Development
  • What Is the Specter of Orality in “Frankenstein”?
  • What Are the Approaches to Teaching Shelley’s “Frankenstein”?
  • What Is the Dilemma of Creator and Creation in “Frankenstein”?
  • What Is the Narrative Structure and Reader Skepticism in “Frankenstein”?
  • How Godlike Science and Unhallowed Arts Are Depicted in “Frankenstein”?
  • How the Character of the Monster Develops in “Frankenstein”?
  • What Is the Significance of the Birthing Scene in “Frankenstein”?
  • Which Story Is More Terrifying: “Dracula” or “Frankenstein”?
  • How Does Isolation Play a Big Role in the Novel “Frankenstein”?
  • How Does Mary Shelley Convey Horror to the Reader in “Frankenstein”?
  • What Is the Main Conflict in Frankenstein?
  • How Does Mary Shelley Explore Suffering in “Frankenstein”?
  • How Does the Language in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” Reflect Its Gothic Genre?
  • How Forbidden Topics Are Transferred as Gothic in “Frankenstein”?
  • What Are the Female Roles and Responsibilities in “Frankenstein”?
  • What Does Light and Fire Represent in “Frankenstein”?
  • What Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” Suggests About Parenting?
  • Who Was Mary Shelley and What Inspired “Frankenstein”?
  • Why Does “Frankenstein” Begin and End With Walton’s Letters
  • What Is the Historical Background of “Frankenstein”?
  • What Are the Major Themes in “Frankenstein”?
  • What Philosophers Influenced “Frankenstein” and How?
  • How Does “Frankenstein” Relate to the Real World?
  • What Is the Philosophy of “Frankenstein”?
  • How Does “Frankenstein” Represent the Enlightenment?
  • What Is the Main Idea of the Introduction of “Frankenstein”?
  • What Is the Last Line of “Frankenstein” and What Does It Mean?
  • The Sympathetic Monster Trope Discuss the trope of the sympathetic monster and its impact on readers’ perceptions of the creature.
  • Critical Analysis of Victor Frankenstein’s God Complex Examining how Victor Frankenstein’s scientific ambitions intersect with notions of playing God and the ethical implications of his actions in the context of romanticism.
  • Mary Shelley’s Feminist Vision Analyzing how Mary Shelley’s personal experiences and beliefs are reflected in the novel’s themes, particularly those related to women’s roles and autonomy.
  • Frankenstein in Popular Culture Revealing the enduring influence of “Frankenstein” on literature, film, and other forms of media, and its portrayal in various adaptations.
  • The Gothic and Romantic Elements Discussing the incorporation of gothic and romantic literary elements in “Frankenstein” and their contribution to its overall atmosphere.
  • Religious and Moral Parallels Exploring the novel’s intersections with spiritual and moral themes, including the creation narrative and the concept of playing God.
  • Ethics of Scientific Discovery Investigating the ethical responsibilities of scientists in pursuit of knowledge, drawing parallels to contemporary discussions on scientific ethics.
  • Narrative Structure and Multiple Perspectives Assessing the use of multiple narrative perspectives and their impact on understanding the story’s themes and characters.
  • Eco-Critical Readings of “Frankenstein” Exploring environmental and ecological themes in the novel and their relevance to contemporary eco-critical discussions.
  • Enlightenment Ideas and Romantic Critique Analyzing how “Frankenstein” engages with Enlightenment ideals of progress and reason and the romantic critique of these ideals.

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StudyCorgi . 2022. "142 Frankenstein Essay Topics." March 1, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/ideas/frankenstein-essay-topics/.

These essay examples and topics on Frankenstein were carefully selected by the StudyCorgi editorial team. They meet our highest standards in terms of grammar, punctuation, style, and fact accuracy. Please ensure you properly reference the materials if you’re using them to write your assignment.

This essay topic collection was updated on December 28, 2023 .

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Essays on Frankenstein

Hook examples for "frankenstein" essays, monster or victim hook.

Is Frankenstein's creature truly a monstrous villain, or is he a victim of society's rejection and cruelty? Dive into the moral ambiguity of this iconic character and explore the depths of his humanity.

Mary Shelley's Inspiration Hook

Discover the intriguing story behind the creation of "Frankenstein." Explore Mary Shelley's life, her influences, and how this timeless novel emerged from the challenges and tragedies she faced.

Scientific Ambition Hook

Victor Frankenstein's relentless pursuit of scientific discovery leads to catastrophic consequences. Analyze the theme of scientific ambition and its ethical implications in the novel.

The Promethean Myth Hook

Frankenstein is often compared to the myth of Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods. Delve into how the novel explores themes of creation, rebellion, and the consequences of playing god.

The Pursuit of Knowledge Hook

Examine the characters' quests for knowledge in "Frankenstein" and how their thirst for understanding the unknown shapes their destinies. Consider the fine line between discovery and obsession.

Ethical Dilemmas Hook

"Frankenstein" raises profound ethical questions about the responsibilities of creators, the treatment of the other, and the consequences of one's actions. Explore these dilemmas and their relevance today.

Monstrosity of Society Hook

Discuss how "Frankenstein" critiques societal norms and prejudices. Analyze how the creature's rejection by society shapes his behavior and leads to his transformation into a true monster.

Gothic Elements Hook

Explore the Gothic elements in Mary Shelley's novel, from eerie settings to themes of isolation and horror. Consider how these elements contribute to the overall atmosphere and meaning of the story.

Modern Scientific Ethics Hook

Draw parallels between the novel's ethical dilemmas and contemporary debates on scientific advancements, cloning, and genetic engineering. Reflect on how "Frankenstein" remains relevant in today's world.

Examples of Prejudice in Frankenstein

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Comparing Frankenstein and The Delacey Family

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Good and Bad Sides of Frankenstein

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Social Norms in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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1818, Mary Shelley

Novel; Gothic Fiction, Horror Fiction, Science Fiction, Romance Novel, Soft Science Fiction

Victor Frankenstein, the monster, Robert Walton, Alphonse Frankenstein, Elizabeth Lavenza, Henry Clerval, William Frankenstein, Justine Moritz, Caroline Beaufort, Beaufort, Peasants, M. Waldman, M. Krempe, Mr. Kirwin

Shelley has been influenced by her parents, especially her father's "Enquiry Concerning Political Justice" and "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman". It also included ideas of galvanism, which have been extremely popular during the time the novel has been written.

Light and darkness, good and evil, fire, isolation, anger, unorthodox approach.

It has been the main theme of reanimating the dead, which became the pioneering theme in literary works, yet the most important and symbolic importance of this novel is the interaction between the scientist Victor Frankenstein and the nameless creature that he has brought to life. It can be summed up with the words of the monster: "I was benevolent and good, misery made me a fiend" (Shelley 90). It speaks of Victor's creating the being, yet it was the society that has created the monster.

The novel tells a story of a gifted scientist called Victor Frankenstein who manages to bring life to his own creation. The challenge is that his creation is not exactly what he has imagined. As a monster creature, he is rejected by his creator and mankind in general. The main idea is to see and explore regarding who the true monster is.

Mary Shelley was only 18 years old when she started Frankenstein . She was 20 years old when the book was published. The Frankenstein has been written in the shadow of a tragedy as Shelley has lost her newborn daughter. The most common misconception is that Frankenstein is the name of the monster, which has already become symbolic all over the world. In truth, the monster has no name at all. Frankenstein word comes from the name of the German castle not far from the Rhine River, literally meaning "Stone of the Franks''. It was the place where an odd alchemist called Konrad Dippel has tried to create an elixir of immortality. It was thought that it was Mary's father Percy Shelley who wrote the book since he also wrote the preface. The book has not been accepted by the critics and was called "absurd" and "disgusting" The full name of the book is Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus.

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” “Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.” “I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.” “Even broken in spirit as he is, no one can feel more deeply than he does the beauties of nature. The starry sky, the sea, and every sight afforded by these wonderful regions, seems still to have the power of elevating his soul from earth. Such a man has a double existence: he may suffer misery, and be overwhelmed by disappointments; yet, when he has retired into himself, he will be like a celestial spirit that has a halo around him, within whose circle no grief or folly ventures.” “How mutable are our feelings, and how strange is that clinging love we have of life even in the excess of misery!”

Although the story has been written a long time ago, it is still clear for contemporary readers because it can be related to scientific advancements, human relations, and AI. In a certain sense, it is the beginning of scientific fiction and the subject of "playing God". Mary Shelley's book is a warning to humanity and the scientists about responsibility with the main message being that science and technology can go way too far beyond the limitations. It proves that human beings must believe in the sanctity of our own being.

This book represents an essay topic for numerous academic fields from Data Science to Nursing and Education. Since it deals with ethics, responsibility, and being conscious about one's creations, it acts as the symbolic reflection of being the monster that we fear. The life of Victor Frankenstein is an example of scientists through decades, different countries and fields. It is a great warning for us all that we should not go too far.

1. Shelley, M., & Bolton, G. (2018). frankenstein. In Medicine and Literature (pp. 35-52). CRC Press. (https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.1201/9781315375670-4/frankenstein-mary-shelley-gillie-bolton) 2. Gigante, D. (2000). Facing the Ugly: The Case of" Frankenstein". Elh, 67(2), 565-587. (https://www.jstor.org/stable/30031925) 3. Sherwin, P. (1981). Frankenstein: Creation as catastrophe. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/pmla/article/abs/frankenstein-creation-as-catastrophe/40AFBF23476041ECF8A55827303A3D43 PMLA, 96(5), 883-903. 4. Heffernan, J. A. (1997). Looking at the monster:" Frankenstein" and film. Critical Inquiry, 24(1), 133-158. (https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/448869?journalCode=ci) 5. Guzman, A. (2013). International organizations and the Frankenstein problem. European Journal of International Law, 24(4), 999-1025. (https://academic.oup.com/ejil/article/24/4/999/606374) 6. Kunich, J. C. (2000). Mother Frankenstein, Doctor Nature, and the Environmental Law of Genetic Engineering. S. cal. L. rev., 74, 807. (https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/scal74&div=42&id=&page=) 7. Ginn, S. R. (2013). Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Exploring neuroscience, nature, and nurture in the novel and the films. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/B9780444632876000099 Progress in Brain Research, 204, 169-190. 8. Holmes, R. (2016). Science fiction: The science that fed Frankenstein. https://www.nature.com/articles/535490a 9. Barns, I. (1990). Monstrous nature or technology?: Cinematic resolutions of the ‘Frankenstein Problem’. Science as Culture, 1(9), 7-48. (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09505439009526278?journalCode=csac20) 10. Brooks, P. (1978). Godlike Science/Unhallowed Arts: Language and Monstrosity in Frankenstein. New Literary History, 9(3), 591-605. (https://www.jstor.org/stable/468457)

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Essays About Frankenstein: Top 5 Examples Plus Prompts

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is one of the greatest works of literature; if you are writing essays about Frankenstein, you can start by reading some essay examples. 

When we think of Frankenstein, we often picture a hulking monster. However, “Frankenstein” refers to one of two things: The novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, or Dr. Victor Frankenstein, the scientist who created the great beast. The monster is Frankenstein’s monster, not Frankenstein himself.

Dr. Frankenstein defies nature in the novel and creates sentient body-stitched body parts. Unfortunately, his creation turns on him, and the scientist eventually dies. The novel is a good reminder of our very nature as human beings and our place in the world. 

If you want to write a good essay about Frankenstein, read these essay examples and prompts for inspiration. 

1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: Critical Essay by Andrew Eliot Binder

2. suspense in frankenstein by sophie tyler, 3. dr. frankenstein’s three big mistakes by charlotte gordon, 4. frankenstein is a tragedy, not a romantic novel by jennifer n. adams, 5. frankenstein & gender roles by frederick hopkins, 1. why can readers empathize with the monster , 2. is franknstein “the modern prometheus”, 3. the true monster of the story, 4. lessons we can learn from frankenstein, 5. does frankenstein deserve its fame, 6. the influence of frankenstein.

“Shelley immediately likens Frankenstein to his own creation through the word “wretched,” and, in doing so, present an irony. Frankenstein deserts his “wretched” creation, who then becomes hungry and harassed by society. But when the roles are reversed, and Frankenstein is described as “wretched,” he is given “soup,” shelter, and protection from being “tormented.”

Binder’s essay compares the characters of Walton and Frankenstein, showing the importance of human relationships. Despite their similar upbringing and personality, Walton craves companionship while Frankenstein isolates himself; the former survives while the latter perishes. Binder believes that Shelley intends to show the importance of being part of society, for we will not survive without it.  

“The message of the novel is that scientists should have self-control in their work to avoid becoming obsessed, otherwise this will lead to their ‘destruction’ as was the case with Frankenstein. In the novel Captain Walton learned from Frankenstein and decided to put an end to his obsession of reaching the north..”

In her essay, Tyler discusses how Shelley creates suspense in Frankenstein through word choice, the symbolism of darkness, pacing, and short sentence structure. Put together, Shelley evokes a dark, foreboding tone, showing the scientist’s terror as the novel progresses and, consequently, the message that scientists must not overstep their bounds and have restraint in their work.

“Artificial intelligence isn’t likely to kill us all—but the more people work on the problem, the more the odds go down. Frankenstein’s creature did not have to be a blight on society. He devolved into a monster of revenge because he was abandoned by his creator.”

Gordon writes about the rise of artificial intelligence and its similarity to Shelley’s Frankenstein . He describes Dr. Frankenstein’s mistakes, unwillingness to share his research with others, neglecting his creation until it was too late to stop it, and poor design due to inadequate resources. A.I. researchers can learn from these mistakes to ensure that their creations do not prove detrimental to others’ lives, as in Frankenstein or society. 

“What Mary Shelley had written, was a tragedy. Both characters, Frankenstein and the monster suffered great tragedies in their life; Frankenstein suffered from the continuous loss of family and friends from his own mistake and the monster suffered a life of solitude and not having known love, kindness, or friendship.”

Adams poses a theory that Frankenstein is a tragic work of literature rather than a romantic novel. Frankenstein and the monster suffer greatly, and conflict is demonstrated against each other and in their heads. Their actions throughout the novel are a result of their tragedies. Adams does an excellent job of conveying her beliefs and presenting evidence to support her claim. 

“Jane Austen once wrote ‘hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be calm waters all our lives’. This helps to sum up the possible mention of the need for the emancipation for women throughout Shelley’s book. We are introduced to varying female roles throughout the book, from Elizabeth to Safie, the ‘gender roles’ have varied in empowering one character while leaving the other to be the representation of the ‘times’.”

Hopkins’s essay discusses how Frankenstein reflects Shelley’s views on gender roles. For example, the character Justine is a “passive, submissive” woman of the time; she meets an unfortunate end. Safie, on the other hand, is more independent and brings joy to everyone when she is present. These examples, among others, reflect Shelley’s desire for society to change its attitude towards women. 

Prompts on Essays about Frankenstein

Essays about Frankenstein

A significant aspect of the story is the monster’s “humanity.” Readers can identify with his character and relationship with society. It is interesting to discuss why this could be the case. Delve into the question, “how do we relate to the monster?” Write about the different ways the monster appears more human and “worthy of empathy,” so to speak.

Interestingly, Frankenstein is suggested to be a modern version of the Greek god. Look into who Prometheus was in mythology and consider the similarities between him and Dr. Frankenstein. How is he a “modern Prometheus?” Use sources to support your findings, and create a compelling argumentative essay.

On a surface level, Frankenstein’s creation is the “monster” in the novel. However, some argue that the true monster is Frankenstein, for tampering with the creation of organic life. So who is the monster to you? There is abundant evidence to support either character; for an engaging essay, get quotes from the novel and online sources. 

Behind Frankenstein lies a set of truths about humanity and some values and lessons we can learn from. What do the story and characters reveal about our inherent nature, and what lessons can we apply to our own lives? You can write about one or more, but be sure to explain them in detail.

Frankenstein is regarded as one of the most famous works of literature, on par with Romeo and Juliet, Moby Dick, and other classics. Should it be considered “one of the greats?” Based on readings and research, decide on your response and defend your position.

Particularly in the world of horror, Frankenstein has had a tremendous impact. Your essay can discuss the novel’s lasting legacy and its effects on pop culture, the science-fiction and horror genres, and literature. In addition, you should include examples of works that exhibit noticeable influence from the novel and its characters. 

Check out our guide packed full of transition words for essays .

If you’re still stuck, check out our general resource of essay writing topics .

creative frankenstein essay titles

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How to nail a Frankenstein essay

September 7, 2017

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Whether you consider yourself a Frankenstein expert, or someone who is a bit taken back by the density of the novel and Shelley’s writing, do not fret! Below I will outline 3 tips which, will hopefully give you a clearer perspective on how to approach writing on Frankenstein! Let’s get started!


Since the book was set during the Age of Enlightenment and the Romantic era, Shelley essentially used Frankenstein as a vessel to criticise and warn readers against many of the values upheld during her era. It’s therefore crucial that you address this!

The late 18th century and the first decades of the 19th century were exciting times for science and exploration. Shelley’s two main protagonists, Walton and Frankenstein, both passionately sough to discover what had previously been hidden. Walton wanted to be the first to find a passage through the Arctic Circle; Frankenstein wanted to be the first to create manmade life, to uncover the mysteries of Nature.  Both men claimed to be desirous of benefitting humankind but both wanted glory more. This obsession to win accolades for their discoveries will destroy Victor, and turn Walton for a while into a hard taskmaster over his crew.

Juxtaposed against these two characters is Henry Clerval. Clerval, too, has an inquiring mind but he also cares about humanity, family and friends. He represents the balanced human being who is sociable, compassionate, intelligent and loyal to his friends. Victor’s ability to reanimate the dead, to bring to life his gigantic Creature using the newly discovered electricity, makes him a genius but also a monster. In his inexperience he botches the work producing a hideous and terrifying creature with, ironically, initially all the virtues of the ideal man of he world. Repulsed by his amateurish handiwork, Victor abandons his creation, setting in place the vengeance that will unfold later.

Try to ground any response to Shelley’s text in the enormous enthusiasm for new discoveries and new geographic phenomena that attracted lavish praise for those who went where others feared to tread. It was this praise that drove Walton and Frankenstein to exceed reasonable expectations becoming reckless and careless of the consequences of their actions.


Walton, Frankenstein and the Creature are interconnected in so many ways – whether it be their isolation, ambition, desire for companionship, desire for vengeance or the Romantic values they share. I’ve also noted that it is also really easy to connect themes in Frankenstein as the tragic story-arc of the novel is built upon many different causes. What I mean by this is that there is a clearly define relationship between isolation, ambition and vengeance (and ultimately tragedy) in the sense that isolation is what led to the brewing of unchecked ambition which essentially causes the resultant tragedy.

Take Frankenstein for example: having left his loving family and friends, who provided him with love and companionship for Ingolstadt, there was no one to hold him back from his natural tendencies towards unchecked ambitions, leading him to creating the monster who out of spite towards society kills all of Frankenstein’s loved ones, leading them towards the desire for mutual destruction. Being able to see these links and draw them together will not only add depth to your writing but it also arms you with the ability to be able to deal with a wider array of prompts.


While Walton, Frankenstein and the Creature can be discussed incredibly thoroughly (and by all means go ahead and do it), but it is also very important to consider the novel as a whole and talk about, if not more thoroughly, on the minor characters. While characters such as the De Laceys, villagers and the rustic in the forest can be used to highlight the injustices brought upon the creature and people’s natural instincts of self preservation and prejudice, innocent characters such as Elizabeth and Justine can be used to emphasise the injustice of society and the consequences of unchecked ambition and isolation.

Henry Clerval (like previously mentioned) can be contrasted against Walton and his best friend Frankenstein to show that as long as we have a balanced lifestyle and companionship, ambition will not lead us to ruin. Characters such as the Turkish merchant can also have parallels drawn with Frankenstein in telling how our selfish desire and actions, born out of inconsideration for their consequences, can backfire with great intensity. Lastly the character of Safie (someone I used a lot in my discussions) can be compared and contrasted with the Creature to show the different treatment they receive despite both being “outsiders” to the De Laceys due to their starkly different appearances.

Mentioning these characters and utilising these contrasts can be monumental in showing your understanding of the novel and by extension, your English analytical ability.

[Video Transcription]

‍ Hey guys, I'm Lisa, welcome back to Lisa's Study Guides. Today, we're going to be talking about Frankenstein and breaking down an essay topic for it. So in the past, I've done plenty of videos looking at different types of essay topics and breaking them down by looking at keywords and then going into the body paragraphs and looking at those ideas. This time round, the takeaway message that I want you to leave with is understanding what types of evidence you should be using inside your body paragraphs. Specifically, I wanted to talk about literary devices or metalanguage. Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein uses so many literary devices that it's impossible to ignore. If you are somebody who is studying this text or other texts that you use and are heavily embedded with literary techniques, then it's really important that you don't just use dialogue as part of your quotes, but actually reading between the lines. I'll teach you on how it's not just about finding dialogue, which you include as quotes inside your body paragraphs, but reading between the lines, so looking at literary devices like metaphors, symbols, imagery, so let's get started. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein constitutes escaping critique of the prioritization of scientific advancement over human welfare and relationship. Dr. Frankenstein is fascinated with science and discovery, he is consumed with the idea of a new and more noble race by stitching up dead body parts from a cemetery. He feverishly works away at his experiment until one day the creature is born. Frankenstein is horrified at the living thing he has made and completely rejects the creature, leaving it without a parental figure. The creature is left alone to look after himself. He educates himself and on repeated occasions tries to approach people in society, however, is rejected every time because of his monstrous appearance. As a result, the creature becomes enraged at humanity and Frankenstein's unfair treatment towards him and consequently exacts revenge on Frankenstein and his family. The essay topic we'll be looking at today is, Our sympathies in this novel ultimately lie with the creature. Discuss. So in previous videos, we've looked at keywords, how to identify them and how to define them. Since it's pretty straightforward for this essay topic, I thought I would skip that part and then go into the more nitty gritty with the body paragraphs. But, if you are unfamiliar with these steps, then I'll link them in the card above and also in the description below so you can have a look at how I went ahead and did the keyword section in my planning, now back to the prompt. Unequivocally within Frankenstein, Shelley portrays sympathy as spread throughout the text through depicting the creature as innately human through his desire for relationship and the challenges he faces at the hands of the prejudice enlightenment society he's born into, Shelley elicits sympathy for his situation. However, through the notable absence of the female gender throughout the text, Shelley portrays those silent within society as most deserving of sympathy. So, with this in mind, here are the potential paragraphs in response to this prompt. Paragraph one, Shelley's depiction of the creature as innately human motivates support for his challenges at the hands of a prejudice society. The action of the creature to open his dull yellow eye, symbolic of his nature as a human being alongside a green wrinkled on his cheeks, with one hand stretched out, indicates his simple desire for paternal connection. Through constructing the creature's actions as innately human Shelley acts proleptically of the inequitable experiences the creature will experience throughout the structural architecture of the text. And through doing so, depicts his character as worthy of support. Similarly, through the metaphor of fire, Shelley explores the duality of progress and innovation of which the creature desires. The fire, one that gives light as well as heat, yet also causes a cry of pain, indicates the hardships of the creature in his isolation, whereby, his forced to withdraw from his desire for education. Upon viewing himself in a pool, the creature becomes "fully convinced that I was in reality [a] monster" with the consequent sensations of despondency and mortification granting the reader the opportunity to sympathize with the creature in order to indicate the intensely negative social prejudices that are inflicted upon the creature. So you can see that we've looked at symbols of the creature's nature and the metaphor of fire to support our topic sentence. Using literary techniques is what's going to make the difference between you and another student who might be saying the same thing. Why? Because when you look at literary devices, it means that you're reading just beyond the lines, just beyond what's in front of you. You're now introducing your own interpretation, so you're looking at fire and thinking about what that means in connection to the text, and why Mary Shelley would use the term of a fire and revolve her discussion around that. So let's see how we keep doing this in the next body paragraph. Paragraph two, Shelley indicates the significance of relationships as a key element of human nature that the creature is denied, motivating affinity from readers. In replacement of human relationships, the creature rather seeks comfort within the natural world. The metaphorical huge cloak that the creature takes refuge within indicates this, illustrative of an ecosystem, the forest allows the creator to surround himself with life. The subsequent attempts to "imitate the pleasant songs of the birds" reveals the desperate urge of the creature for companionship as he is abandoned by the paternal relationship represented by Victor Frankenstein, which forms a core of human relationships. Again, here we've discussed the metaphorical huge cloak and its connection with the forest, I strongly encourage you to have the goal of discussing at least one literary device per body paragraph. And no, there is no such thing as talking about too many literary devices because it's really just about whether or not your argument is concise and whether or not you're backing that up with evidence. Paragraph three. However, it is Shelley's depiction of the submissive female sex within Frankenstein that becomes most deserving of sympathy. Each female character is characterized as passive, disposable, and they're serving a utilitarian function, namely as a channel of action for the male characters within the text. Notably, the complete lack of absence of Margaret Saville, functioning only as an audience for Walton's letters exemplifies this. Margaret's role within the text is simply to enable Walton to relay the story of Frankenstein and as such were the most necessary character of the texts whilst the most distant. This ironic dichotomy enables Shelley to exemplify the difficult role of the female within society, arising sympathy from the readership. Here, even the purposeful emission of a character is discussed as a language technique. So, this type of literary device definitely tops the cake because you're literally looking at what's not even there. That's definitely reading between the lines. Frankenstein is a very complex novel, and sometimes that's what makes it a difficult text to study. But, it lends itself to many unique interpretations and it's heavily dressed with heaps of literary devices or metalanguage, however you want to call it. So, that's what makes it an absolutely fantastic text for high school students to study. If you wanted to find out more on how to nail a Frankenstein essay, then I'll link you to my blog just down below, because there are definitely more tips there to help you excel in this particular text. Thank you so much for watching, and especially even if you're not studying this text, I hope you've been able to take something away from this video. And I'm confident that you have because talking about literary devices is definitely a topic that isn't necessarily the fore front of discussion in classrooms, and it's something that a lot of people struggle with. So, I hope you are able to walk away with a new goal in sight in order to improve your English essays. So, I will see you guys next time, thank you so much for joining me, see you guys soon. Bye!

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creative frankenstein essay titles

We've explored themes, characters, literary devices and historical context amongst other things over on our Women of Troy by Euripides blog post. If you need a quick refresher or you’re new to studying this text, I highly recommend checking it out as well as our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

Here, we’ll be breaking down a Women of Troy essay topic using LSG’s THINK and EXECUTE strategy , a technique to help you write better VCE essays. If you’re unfamiliar with this strategy, you can learn about it in our How To Write A Killer Text Response study guide.

Within the THINK strategy, we have 3 steps, or ABC. These ABC components are:

Step 1: A nalyse Step 2: B rainstorm Step 3: C reate a Plan

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

The Prompt: ‘“We are loot my son and I, soldiers’ plunder.” Discuss how Euripides highlights the plight of women taken as slaves in war.’ 

Step 1: Analyse

The first thing to note about this prompt is that it is a 'how’ question , it is essentially asking us to identify the literary techniques Euripides has employed in order to ‘highlight’ the women’s ‘plight’. The noun ‘plight’ is defined as a troublesome or unfortunate situation, yet we must consider this word in the context of war. How do the women suffer? In other words, how does Euripides demonstrate to his reader just how dejected the women are as slaves?

Step 2: Brainstorm

It is relatively simple to identify the literary techniques which consistently appear throughout Euripides’ play, such as imagery, metaphor and simile ( not entirely sure what literary techniques are? We have a list of them for you here ). However, keeping in mind we have to form three paragraphs, we should consider Euripides’ authorial voice more broadly. For example, the women consistently lament their disillusionment with the gods. This is not a literary technique in itself, but it is still a literary choice which Euripides has made and which has been deepened with more specific literary devices like metaphor. The same could be said for the women’s struggle for hope, and the contrast between their joyous pasts and dismal futures.

Step 3: Create a Plan

Unlike a ‘to what extent’ question, we do not have to form an argument. Instead, we must forge a discussion of Euripides’ literary decisions as a playwright.

P1: Euripides juxtaposes the triumphant pasts of the Trojan women with their tragic futures. The 'shining citadels of Troy' are now a 'black smokened ruin’.

P2: Euripides illuminates the women’s attempts to retain futile hope. Note that hope also comes in the form of revenge.

P3: The dramatic irony of the play renders the women’s desperate calls upon the gods all the more tragic. Here, we can also make reference to the prologue, and Athene’s ploy to create a storm on the Greeks’ journey home which also ultimately affects the women.

At the heart of the conflict in The Women of Troy , lies the anguished 'suffering' (1) of the Trojan women as they confront their fates as 'slaves', and remember their pasts as wives and mothers. In his tragedy, first performed in Athens circa 415 BCE, Euripides amplifies the conflicted voices of the Trojan women, voices which are by contrast suppressed and disregarded in the Homeric works the Iliad and the Odyssey . Euripides’ stark dichotomy between the glories and 'rituals' of the past, and the sombre 'grief' of the present, elucidate the magnitude of their losses, both material and moral. For as Andromache laments, these women have been objectified as 'loot', mere spoils of war to be abused and exploited. (2) The women’s tendency to clutch onto chimerical (3) hopes and values only serves to further illuminate the profundity of their suffering once these ambitions have been brutally quashed in the 'dust' of their 'smoke blackened ruin' of Troy. Perhaps most significantly, Euripides juxtaposes the lingering though pitiful hope of the women with the gods’ complete 'desert[ion]' of Troy, positioning the women in an ironic chasm of cruel abandonment. Thus, the plight of women as wartime captives is dramatised by Euripides, corralling the audience into an ultimate stance of pity and empathy.

Annotations: (1) It is often useful to embed short/one word quotes in your essay (we teach you how in How To Embed Quotes in Your Essay Like a Boss ). It shows you have a great understanding of the text, and reads fluidly as opposed to overly long quotes.

‍ (2) Here, I have addressed the quote in the prompt in a single sentence, unpacking Euripides’ analogy of Andromache and Astyanax as ‘loot’. By comparing the two characters to war spoils, he is suggesting that they have been stripped of their free will and autonomy.

‍ (3) It is really important to vary your vocabulary in order to increase the sophistication of your essay. The adjective ‘chimerical’ refers to an ideal which is impossible to achieve.  

Euripides’ juxtaposition between the dismal future of the Trojan women and the zenith of their pasts, further illuminates the chasm of their sufferings and losses as the ultimate victims of wartime atrocities. Chiefly, Euripides contrasts Hecuba’s former royal status with the demoralizing fate of her captivity, encapsulating this tragic fall from nobility with the ironic imagery, 'throned in the dust’. Yet perhaps what truly emphasises her plight as a slave is her enduring role as a maternal figure of leadership, encapsulated in her regard of the chorus as '[her] children' and her reciprocated address as 'dear queen' and 'your mother'. Despite the 'death agony' she feels, she chooses to maintain her nobility through the depth of her morality, dramatizing the pitiful nature of her plight (4) . Moreover, Euripides’ juxtaposition between the 'shining citadels of Troy' and the 'misery' of the chorus elucidates the significance of 'home', a source of solace which has been barbarically stripped away from them. Likewise, Andromache laments her past as a dutiful and faithful wife, contrasting her fidelity against her fate as a 'concubine' to the formidable Neoptolemus (5) . Euripides implies that Andromache must abandon her reputation as the 'perfect wife' – the very attribute for which she was chosen especially – doomed to confront a life of sexual slavery, an unwilling mother of Neoptolemus’ children.

Annotations: (4) Here, I have used the word ‘plight’, making sure I am engaging directly with the prompt. It is often easy to fall into the trap of creating a generalised essay which only loosely adheres to the question. 

‍ (5) It is more sophisticated to specify the name of Andromache’s husband (Neoptolemus), rather than to just simply state ‘Andromache’s husband’ (even though he is not featured as a character in Euripides’ play).

Euripides (6) characterises the women by their tendency to clutch on to 'hope[s]' and ideals that are impossible to fulfil. Almost a coping mechanism of sorts, the chorus paradoxically romanticise the Greek landscape in the first episode, lauding the 'sacred halls', 'green fields', 'beautiful river[s]' and 'wealth' of Hellas. Yet, their ardent critiques of their future 'home[s]' rejects any notion that the women truly believe these glorifications of the Greek realm. Similarly, Hecuba is motivated by her futile hope that Astyanax may one day seek vengeance and be 'the savior of Troy' by 'rebuild[ing]' the city. Yet tragically, this doomed hope is violently quashed by Odysseus 'blind panic' and acute lack of rationality: the 'liar' and 'deceiver' who 'lead the Greek council' in their debate. Though this hope initially provides her with some form of solace, all comfort is dashed with the announcement of his 'butchery'. Likewise, Cassandra is motivated by her own pursuit for revenge, lauding her 'sacred marriage' to Agamemnon as an event worthy of 'praise' and 'celebration'. Yet her hope is also jaded, for she must in the process 'flout all religious feeling' as a slave of Agamemnon’s 'lust', until she meets her painful hour of death at Clytemnestra’s hands.

Annotations: (6) Notice that several of the sentences have begun with ‘Euripides characterises’ or ‘Euripides illuminates’, engaging with the ‘how’ part of the prompt. We are showing what the author has done and why.

Ironically, Euripides illuminates the plight of the Trojan women through his dramatic elucidation of the gods’ callous abandonment of the ruined Troy. Euripides juxtaposes the past 'rituals', 'dances', 'songs', 'sacrifices', 'offerings' and 'ceremonies' of the chorus with their bitter laments that 'the gods hate Troy' and that they are ultimately characterised by avarice. They are neither answered not consoled in their ultimate time of mourning, for the audience is aware that Poseidon has fled the scene in the prologue, disillusioned by the 'ceas[ing]' of 'worship', leaving 'nothing (…) worth a god’s consideration' in the fallen city. What is also rendered ironic by Euripides, is Athene’s formidable ploy to 'make the Greeks’ return home a complete disaster.' Regardless of Athene’s true motives for instigating this ultimate pursuit of comeuppance, the fact remains that the women too must endure this perilous journey to Greece. Not only are the despairing wives, mothers and daughters condemned to 'abject slavery' on foreign soil, they are 'innocent: victims who may – alongside the Greeks – find themselves on the shores of Euboea, among the 'float[ing] (…) corpses' of the Greek soldiers. They are not simply abandoned by the gods, they are, directly or indirectly, punished. (7)

Annotations: (7) This is a more original point which other students may not automatically think of. We often view Athene’s ‘ploy’ as a deserved punishment of the ‘murderous’ Greeks, yet there is no true justice, for the women too are ultimately affected.

In a play which serves to fill the silence of the Trojan women in the legendary works of the Iliad and the Odyssey (8) , Euripides augments the pitiful plight of the Trojan women with agonizing references to past 'happiness', and equally unbearable forecasts of their roles as 'slaves' of Greek lust. They are indeed 'loot' and they are indeed 'plunder' – as Andromache so bitterly laments – yet their plight is recorded in the works of 'poets' to come, remembered as a legacy of stoicism 'a hundred generations hence.' Taken as our 'great theme', these women are 'sufferer[s]', yet they are also heroes.

Annotations: (8) Just as I have done in the introduction, I have referred to the context of the play in the conclusion. The Iliad and the Odyssey provided the framework for Euripides’ play, so by referencing Homer’s works we are showing the examiner that we have an understanding of the historical context. 

If you'd like to dive deeper into Women of Troy, check out our A Killer Text Guide: Women of Troy study guide. In it, we teach you how to how to think like a 50 study scorer through advanced discussions on topics such as views and values and metalanguage, we provide you with 5 A+ sample essays that are fully annotated and everything is broken down into easy-to-understand concepts so that students of all levels can understand and apply what we teach!!


Many lawyers today would cite this 60-year-old story as an inspiration—Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is, at its core, the tale of one attorney’s quest against racial injustice in his Deep South home, and of his children coming of age in the shadow of their father.

The novel is narrated in two parts by his younger child, Scout, and along with her brother Jem and their friend Dill, she traces their upbringing as inspired by Atticus’ moral teachings of tolerance, courage and justice. The first part follows their childhood, and their interactions with characters such as Boo Radley, Walter Cunningham, Miss Caroline and Mrs Dubose, while the second part follows the Tom Robinson trial itself, testing the children on the moral lessons of their childhood and disillusioning them to the overwhelming racism of their community.

We’ll be going through the novel’s major themes, and also looking at it a bit more critically within the historical context of civil rights and racial justice struggles.

Before we dive into To Kill A Mockingbird, I'd highly recommend checking out LSG's Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

Prejudice and Race in To Kill A Mockingbird

All throughout the novel resonate messages of tolerance over prejudice. However, before any question of race is introduced, the children must confront their prejudices about Boo Radley, a local recluse who was rumoured to have attacked his parents. While they (particularly Jem and Dill) lowkey harass Boo by playing around his yard, re-enacting dramaticised versions of his life, and sending notes into his house with a fishing pole, they undoubtedly get drawn into the rumours as well: he was “six-and-a-half feet tall”, he “dined on raw squirrels” and he had a head “like a skull”.

What is prejudice, after all? In this case, it doesn’t have to do with race necessarily—it’s more about how the children judge Boo, form a preconceived image of who he is, before they really know him.

And this happens to other white characters too—notably Walter Cunningham, a boy from a poor family who Aunt Alexandra straight up derides as “trash”. Even when invited to dinner by the Finches, he is dismissed by Scout as “just a Cunningham”, and this is where Calpurnia steps in as the moral voice, chastising her for acting “high and mighty” over this boy who she hardly knows.

The racial dimension of prejudice is impossible to ignore though—as Atticus says, “people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box”. The word ‘resentment’ has special significance here in the context of the Great Depression (in which the novel was set—more on this in a later section) but the general idea is clear: Black Americans like Tom Robinson were guilty, and therefore doomed, the minute they stepped into a court because the white jury inevitably bore prejudices against them.

At the end of the day, the panacea Lee presents for prejudice is empathy, the idea that only by truly understanding someone, “climb[ing] into [their] skin and walk[ing] around in it”, can we overcome our own prejudices—something that the jury isn’t quite able to do by the end of the novel.

Justice in To Kill A Mockingbird

In the second part of the novel, these moral questions around prejudice and empathy find an arena in the courtroom, where Tom has been unfairly charged with rape and is being defended by Atticus. The court of law is supposed to be this colour-blind, impartial site of dispute resolution, where anybody “ought to get a square deal”, but the reality we see in the novel falls dramatically short; Tom is indeed ultimately found guilty despite the evidence to the contrary.

The intersection of these themes—race, prejudice and justice—forces us to confront the reality that our legal institutions may not be as colour-blind and impartial as we thought. As Atticus says in his closing statement, “a court is only as sound as its jury, and a jury is only as sound as the men who make it up.” However, what we see is that the people who make up a jury are not necessarily as sound as he/we would hope—Scout later recognises that the true trial occurs in the “secret courts of men's hearts”, and that racist biases were always going to get in the way of a fair verdict.

Heroism and Courage in To Kill A Mockingbird

All of that sounds pretty dire, so is the novel then purely pessimistic? We’re going to complicate this a little here, and then (spoiler) a little more in the “Past the Basics (II)” section, but let’s say for now that even though the outcome may be cause for pessimism, the novel is not so pessimistic on the whole. This is because of one central moral that stands out from all of Atticus’ other teachings, and that strings the entire story together, namely the idea that courage doesn’t have any one single shape or form, that anybody can be courageous.

In Part One, we find an unlikely hero in Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose, who the children describe as “plain hell”—when Jem takes out her flowers, Atticus makes him read to her as punishment. Only when she dies is it revealed that she was a morphine addict who had been trying to cut the habit in her last days, which Atticus sees as extremely brave: “[Real courage is] when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.” For all we know, this could’ve been about himself…

Another example of Atticus switching up what it means to be heroic is in the way he puts down Tim Johnson. Don’t stress if you forgot who that is—Tim is the rabid dog. Jem is blown away by his father’s marksmanship, which he had never actually witnessed. Atticus transforms this into yet another lesson about courage: "I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand."

What we see here is Lee trying to broaden the reader’s imagination of what a hero could be, or what courage could look like, and all of this momentum eventually builds to the trial in Part Two. Even Tim Johnson’s name calls to mind parallels with Tom Robinson’s legal battle, in which Atticus heroically takes up the huge responsibility of protecting the innocent, and in spite of his best efforts, both times he fails.

Yet maybe both times he knew it would be inevitable—courage is “know[ing] you’re licked before you begin”, right?  

Fatherhood vs Adolescence in To Kill A Mockingbird

creative frankenstein essay titles

This knowledge seems to be one of those unfortunate things that comes with age and life experience. While Atticus already understands this, it doesn’t quite click for his children until the end of the novel. Jem is particularly shaken by the guilty verdict: “It ain’t right”, he cries.

The novel is sometimes referred to as a bildungsroman for this reason: at its core, it’s a coming-of-age story. Jem may have been really idealistic about law and justice and the court system, but this is the first time in his life that he has had to grapple with the reality that all these institutions might be flawed, and that his dad is a hero not because he always wins, but because he’s willing to get into the fight even when he knows he might lose. Even though these messages came through all across the novel, Jem’s personal investment in the Robinson trial brings it all together for him.

Thus, on the one hand, you have this disillusionment and loss on innocence, but on the other, you also have this shift in worldview that may well be valuable in the long run.

It’s also worth noting that Jem isn’t the only character who experiences this though—and also that heroism isn’t the only theme that is affected. Scout experiences similar disappointments, and they both grapple with other questions of conscience, tolerance and conformity throughout the novel.

Past the basics: Narrative Structure

I’ve hinted to this briefly throughout the themes, but the two-part structure of the novel plays a key role in delivering the key moral messages. While Part One isn’t necessarily the story you’d expect (given that it’s very long and almost completely not about the trial itself), many of the characters and their interactions with Jem, Scout and Dill are incredibly meaningful. (Walter Cunningham and Mrs. Dubose are covered above, but try to form some of these connections yourself).

Boo Radley is the key character who connects the two parts of the story. He spends much of the first part in hiding, occasionally leaving gifts for the kids in a tree (chapter 7), or giving them a blanket during a fire (chapter 8). However, he’s also victim to their prejudice and their gossip—they don’t see him as a person, but rather as an enigma whom they can harass and talk about at will. In the second part however, he emerges to save Jem from Bob Ewell and is actually a rather unassuming man. Here, Scout and Jem must reckon with the moral lessons they’ve been taught about prejudice, but also about innocence and courage. It’s through these interactions as well that they come closer to understanding Atticus, and his brave quest to defend the innocent. In many ways, the first part of the novel sets up and drives these ideas home.

Past the basics: Critical Racial Analysis

As foreshadowed, we’re going to complicate the heroism element of the novel here, and I’ll start with a quote from a New York Times review: “I don’t need to read about a young white girl understanding the perniciousness of racism to actually understand the perniciousness of racism. I have ample firsthand experience.”

So is there an issue when a story of Black injustice only elevates white people as heroes? Not to say that Atticus can’t be heroic, but what does it say that he’s the brave, stoic hero in a story about a Black man’s unjust suffering?

I think to best understand these complexities, it’s worth situating the story in its historical context.

  • 1930s : Great Depression; when the novel is set . Economy had collapsed and masses were unemployed; with slavery abolished, Black people were competing with white people for labour, fuelling resentment. Harper Lee grew up in this time, so there are autobiographical elements to the novel.
  • 1960s : Civil Rights Movement; when the novel is published . For the first time in history, Black heroes were capturing national white attention and shifting the needle drastically towards racial justice. It was in this watershed wave of activism and social change that people read this book for the first time, and it was received as a deeply authentic voice within this movement.
  • 2010s : Present day; when the novel is currently being read . We’re closer towards achieving racial justice now, but we’re also in a world where more and more young people are cognisant of these issues. While the novel’s image on the surface (of white kids being blown away by the existence of racism) is fading in relevance, there are underlying messages that are still relevant: racism and prejudice is inevitable, and can occur across and within racial lines; courage and heroism can take many forms (consider how Black characters—such as Calpurnia—also act in heroic ways); and the experiences of young people, whether experiencing racism firsthand or witnessing its divisive impact, undoubtedly shape their values and morals as they enter the adult world.

If the same story was published today, it probably wouldn’t have the same impact, but think about what kinds of messages endure anyway, beneath the surface story.

Essay Prompt Breakdown

To Kill a Mockingbird argues that empathy is courageous. Discuss.

Which brings us to a topic that is a bit knottier than it might first seem. Although empathy is shown to be courageous, particularly in the context of its setting, part of the novel’s message is also that courage can be fluid. This means that you might agree for a paragraph or two, emphasising the importance of context, before expanding on this idea of courage in the third.

  • Paragraph One : empathy can be a courageous trait in divisive times. Atticus says from early on that it’s important to “climb in [someone’s] skin and walk around in it” in order to better understand them. He initially says this about Walter Cunningham, but it’s a message that finds relevance all throughout—which occurs in parallel, of course, with his other lessons about courage, and how it can take different forms (as in Mrs. Dubose). Understood together, Lee suggests that empathy can in itself be a form of courage.
  • Paragraph Two : we’ve blended two themes together in the previous paragraph, but let’s bring in some context here. Empathy only stands out as being particularly courageous because of the historical milieu, in which people were not only racist, but allowed racist resentments to surface in the economic struggle of the Depression. In fact, these “resentments [were carried] right into a jury box” where people failed to display the very courage that Atticus consistently espouses.
  • Paragraph Three : that said, even if empathy is courageous, courage can take on many forms beyond just empathy. Consider Scout backing away from a fight with Cecil Jacobs (“I felt extremely noble”—and rightfully so) or the resilience of the First Purchase congregation in using their service to raise money “to help [Helen Robinson] out at home”. That these characters, Black and white, can hold their heads high and do the right thing in difficult times is also courageous.

In your opinion, what is the most central and relevant message from To Kill a Mockingbird ?

What is the role of innocence in To Kill a Mockingbird ?

Lee argues that legal institutions are fraught with human bias—is this true?

In To Kill a Mockingbird , who pays the price for racism, and what do they lose?

Challenge: In To Kill a Mockingbird , how are isolation and loneliness different, and what is Lee suggesting about society in this regard?

To Kill A Mockingbird Essay Prompt Breakdown Video

Video Transcription

Something that I want you to take away from this video is being able to develop a contention statement that is a complete, solid foundation for your essay. A lot of the time when I ask students what they’re trying to say in a specific section of their essay, they can’t really explain it, they’re just trying to put relevant evidence down. Ideally, it’s worth bearing in mind when you plan that you should be able to follow your logic back to the contention at any given point, even if you’re not that confident with the topic, and even if it wasn’t the topic you’re quite prepared for.

The topic we’ll be looking at is:

To Kill A Mockingbird is a story of courage. Discuss.

So ‘courage’ is the key word here, and the way we define it will shape our entire discussion. It generally means bravery and fearlessness, but what kinds of courage are explored in the novel? It could be anything from courage to do the ‘right’ thing, or courage to tell the truth, or courage to treat people with dignity even when you don’t know if they’ll treat you the same way.

Immediately, we can see that this is a theme-based prompt . To learn more about LSG's incredible Five Types Technique and how it can revolutionise how you approach VCE Text Response essays, have a read of this blog post .

For a prompt like this, you start building your contention based on these definitions, and this is handy if you’re better prepared for another theme. L et’s say you’re better prepped to write an essay on discrimination ...

You could contend that the novel is indeed about courage, as Atticus not only teaches it to his children but also applies it to his defence of Tom Robinson in the face of structural racism. However, courage is also linked more broadly to empathy, which is explored as a panacea for discrimination. A complete contention like this breaks up your points neatly, but also grounds everything you have to say in an essay that still addresses the question and the idea of courage.

For example, paragraph one would start by looking at the forms of courage he teaches to his children . Part One, the more moralistic and didactic section of the novel ends with the idea that “real courage” isn’t “a man with a gun” but rather “when you know you're licked before you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.” The section is characterised by these lessons of “real courage”—while Atticus “One-Shot” Finch downplays his marksmanship, he focuses the children’s moral instruction on characters such as Mrs Dubose, who he admires as courageous for fighting her morphine addiction.

The next paragraph would look at Atticus’ actions and also the trial in a bit more detail, as he embodies this idea that real courage exists outside of physical daring . In the racist milieu of the Deep South at the time, juries rarely “decide in favour of a coloured man over a white man.” Yet, Atticus is determined to defend Tom even at the steep cost of his own personal honour or reputation. Not only does he teach his children about the importance of courage, but he goes on to exemplify those very lessons himself. Courage in this case reflects his commitment to the truth and to defending the innocent—“this boy’s not going till the truth is told.”

However, in the final paragraph we might take a bit of a turn. Atticus, in having the courage to see Tom as an equal, is probably reflecting another very important value in the novel—namely, empathy. Though he admires Mrs. Dubose for her “real courage”, the white camellia he gives to Jem represents the goodness he sees within her despite her discriminatory attitudes. Though Jem struggles to empathise with the “old devil”, Atticus posits that it takes a degree of courage to be the bigger person and see the best in others, rather than repeating cycles of discrimination and prejudice. The idea of empathy as a form of courage is also reflected in what he teaches them about Boo Radley. When Scout is terrified by the idea that he had given her a blanket without her realising, she “nearly threw up”—yet Atticus maintains the importance of empathising with people, “climb[ing] into another man’s shoes and walk[ing] around in it” rather than ostracising them. In other words, he sees empathy as a form of courage in being the first to break social stigmas and overcome the various forms of discrimination that separate us.

Now to touch base again with the take away message . We contended that the novel is about courage because Atticus teaches it to Scout and Jem while also representing it in the trial. We also contended that courage is linked to empathy, another key value that he imparts as it helps to overcome social barriers like discrimination. The aim was to build an essay on a contention that clearly props up the body of the essay itself, even when we were more confident with some other themes, and I think this plan does a pretty good job of covering that.


Margo Channing played by Bette Davis

As the protagonist of the movie, Margo Channing is a genuine and real actress raised by the theatre since the age of three. She is a vulnerable character who openly displays her strengths and weaknesses; Mankiewicz showcasing the life of a true actress through her. Initially, we see Margo as mercurial and witty, an actress with passion and desire (not motivated by fame but the true art of performing). She is the lead in successful plays and with friends like Karen and Lloyd to rely on and a loving partner, Bill, it seems that she has everything.

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However, Margo’s insecurities haunt her; with growing concerns towards her identity, longevity in the theatre and most importantly her relationship with Bill. Eventually, in a pivotal monologue, Margo discusses the problems that have been plaguing her. She battles with the idea of reaching the end of her trajectory, the thought that ‘in ten years from now – Margo Channing will have ceased to exist. And what’s left will be… what?’ By the end of the movie, Margo accepts the conclusion of her time in the theatre and understands that family and friends are what matters most, not the fame and success that come with being an acclaimed actress.

Eve Harrington played by Anne Baxter

Antagonist of All About Eve , Eve Harrington (later known as Gertrude Slojinski) is an egotistical and ambitious theatre rookie. With a ‘do-whatever-it-takes’ attitude, Eve is first introduced to the audience as a timid and mousy fan (one with utmost dedication and devotion to Margo). However, as the plot unfolds, Eve’s motive becomes increasingly clear and her actions can be labelled as amoral and cynical, as she uses the people around her to climb the ladder to fame.

Margo is her idealised object of desire and from the subtle imitations of her actions to infiltrating and betraying her close circle of friends, Eve ultimately comes out from the darkness that she was found in and takes Margo’s place in the theatre. Mankiewicz uses Eve’s character to portray the shallow and back-stabbing nature of celebrity culture; Eve’s betrayal extending beyond people as she eventually turns her back on the world of theatre, leaving Broadway for the flashing lights of Hollywood.

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Addison DeWitt played by George Sanders

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The voice that first introduces the audience to the theatre, Addison DeWitt is a cynical and manipulative theatre critic. Despite being ambitious and acid-tongued, forming a controlling alliance with Eve, Addison is not the villain.

The critic is the mediator and forms a bridge between the audience, the theatre world, and us; he explains cultural codes and conventions whilst also being explicitly in charge of what we see. Ultimately, Addison is ‘essential to the theatre’ and a commentator who makes or breaks careers.

Bill Simpson played by Gary Merill

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Bill Simpson is the director All About Eve does not focus on Bill’s professional work but rather places emphasis on his relationship with Margo. He is completely and utterly devoted to her and this is evident when he rejects Eve during an intimate encounter. Despite having a tumultuous relationship with Margo, Bill proves to be the rock; always remaining unchanged in how he feels towards her.

Karen Richards played by Celeste Holmes

Wife of Lloyd Richards and best friend and confidante to Margo Channing, Karen Richards is a character who supports those around her. During conversations she listens and shares her genuine advice, acting as a conciliator for her egocentric friends. Unfortunately, Karen is also betrayed by Eve, used as a stepping stone in her devious journey to fame.

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Lloyd Richards played by Hugh Marlowe

Successful playwright and husband to Karen Richards, Lloyd Richards writes the plays that Margo makes so successful. However, as Margo grows older in age, she begins to become irrelevant to the plays that Lloyd writes. Subsequently, this causes friction between the two characters and Mankiewicz uses this to show the audience the struggles of being an actress in the theatre; whilst also adding to the Margo’s growing concern towards her age.

Lloyd is unwilling to change the part for Margo and thus Eve becomes a more attractive match for the part. An unconfirmed romance between the budding actress and Lloyd also adds to the drama within All About Eve .


Birdie played by Thelma Ritter

A former vaudeville actress (which means that she acted in comic stage play which included song and dance), Margo’s dresser and close friend, Birdie is not afraid to speak the truth. Initially she sees right through Eve’s story and she warns Margo to watch her back. Despite not being in much of the movie, Birdie’s critical eye is a foreshadowing for the audience towards what is to come.

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Max Fabian played by Gregory Ratoff

Producer in the theatre, Max Fabian is involved in theatre just to ‘make a buck’. He is a hearty character who adds comic relief to a dramatic plot.

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Miss Claudia Caswell played by Marilyn Monroe

Aspiring actress, Miss Caswell is seen briefly throughout the movie to show the audience the shallow nature of the world of show business. Unlike Eve, she relies on her appearance to ‘make’ it rather than talent; as seen during her encounter with Max and the unsuccessful audition that followed.   

Phoebe played by Barbara Bates

The next rising star to follow in Eve’s footsteps, Phoebe is featured at the end of the film. In this scene there is a foreshadowing of the future, which suggests a repeat of the past, thus, making Phoebe an interesting character to observe. She is a manufactured construction of an actress and illustrates how replaceable a character is in the world of theatre.

Metalanguage is language that describes language. The simplest way to explain this is to focus on part 3 of the English exam – Language Analysis. In Language Analysis, we look at the author’s writing and label particular phrases with persuasive techniques such as: symbolism, imagery or personification. Through our description of the way an author writes (via the words ‘symbolism’, ‘imagery’ or ‘personification’), we have effectively used language that describes language. For a detailed discussion, see  What is metalanguage?

  • Protagonist
  • False protagonist
  • Secondary character
  • Supporting character
  • Major character
  • Minor character
  • Philosophical
  • Non-fiction
  • Short stories

Language form

  • ProseIambic pentameter
  • Blank verse

Narrative mode

  • First person view
  • Second person view
  • Third person view
  • Third person objective
  • Third person
  • Third person omnipresent
  • Third person limited
  • Alternating narrative view
  • Stream-of-consciousness
  • Linear narrative
  • Nonlinear narrative

Narrative tense

  • Anti-climax
  • Trope-cliché
  • Turning point
  • Geographical

Other literary techniques

  • Active voice
  • Alliteration
  • Ambivalence
  • Bildungsroman
  • Characterisation
  • Cliffhanger
  • Colloquialism
  • Complex sentence
  • Compound sentence
  • Connotation
  • English (American)
  • English (Australian)
  • Flash forward
  • Foreshadowing
  • Juxtaposition
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Passive voice
  • Periphrasis
  • Personification
  • Positioning
  • Simple sentence

Historical Context

  • Cinematography
  • Key Symbols

Sample Essay Topics

Essay topic breakdown.

Rear Window is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

When most people think of Hitchcock, it’s the screeching violins from  Psycho  that first come to mind. Whilst he is indeed known for his hair-curling thrillers,  Rear Window  is a slightly subtler film which focuses not on a murderer at large, but rather a crippled photographer who never even leaves his apartment.

Our protagonist L.B. ‘Jeff’ Jefferies is portrayed by James Stewart, who was known at the time for portraying cowboys in various Western films as well as starring in an earlier Hitchcock film  Rope . After breaking his leg after a racing accident, Jeff begins to spy on his neighbours, one of whom he suspects of having committed a murder.

Despite some initial misgivings, his insurance nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) and lover Lisa (Grace Kelly) also come to share his suspicions and participate in his spying. Their contributions ultimately allow the mystery to be solved.

Intertwined with this mystery is also the rather complex story of Jeff and Lisa’s relationship. Jeff on one hand resembles the ‘macho’ men of action whom Stewart is very accustomed to playing. On the other hand, Kelly portrays a character much like herself, a refined and elegant urbanite whose lifestyle inherently clashes with that of an action photographer.

Hitchcock ultimately resolves both of these storylines in the film’s denouement.

2. Historial Context

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the film, it is crucial to understand a bit about its historical context. As with any other text, the social conditions at the time of  Rear Window ’s release in 1954 inform and shape the interactions and events of the film.

Released in the  post-war period , the film is undoubtedly characterised by the interpersonal suspicion which defined the era. In particular, there was a real fear in America of Communist influences and Soviet espionage - so much so that a tribunal was established, supposedly to weed out Communists despite a general lack of evidence. This practice of making accusations without such evidence is now known as the McCarthyism, named after the senator behind the tribunal.

The film undoubtedly carries undertones of this, particularly in Jeff’s disregard for his neighbours’ privacy and his unparalleled ability to jump to conclusions about them. During this era, people really did fear one another, since the threat of Communism felt so widespread. Jeff’s exaggerated interpretations of his neighbours’ actions lead him to an irrational sense of suspicion, which is in many way the basis of the entire film.

At the same time, the 1950s saw a  boom in photojournalism  as a legitimate profession. To some extent, this was fuelled by the heyday of  Life  magazine (an American weekly, as well-known then as  Time  magazine is today). This publication was almost entirely photojournalistic, and one of their war photojournalists, Robert Capa, is actually the basis of Jeff’s character. This explains the prevalence of cameras in his life, as well as his ability to emotionally distance himself from those whom he observes through the lens.

Another crucial historical element is  the institution of marriage , and how important it was to people during the 1950s. It was an aspiration which everyone was expected to have, and this is reflected statistically - only 9.3% of homes then had single occupants (as opposed to around 25% today). People also tended to marry at a younger age, generally in their early 20s.

Conversely, divorce was highly frowned upon, and once you were married, you would in general remain married for the rest of your life. In particular, divorced women suffered massive financial difficulties, since men, as breadwinners, held higher-paying jobs, and women were only employed in traditionally female roles (e.g. secretaries, nurses, teachers, librarians). Seen in this light, we can understand Lisa’s overwhelming desire to marry and settle down with Jeff. The importance of marriage is also evident in the lives of Jeff’s neighbours; Miss Torso’s 'juggling [of the] wolves', and Miss Lonelyheart’s depression both reflect this idea.

Combining a basic understanding of the film’s plot, as well as our knowledge of its history, we can begin to analyse some of the themes that emerge.

Possibly the central tenet of the film is the big question of  privacy . Even in today’s society, the sanctity of privacy is an important concept; every individual has a right to make their own choices without having to disclose, explain or justify all of them. The character of Doyle says almost these exact words: 

'That’s a secret and private world you’re looking into out there. People do a lot of things in private that they couldn’t possibly explain in public'

The tension that Hitchcock draws upon is this other idea of public responsibility, or civic duty - that is, the need to uphold the peace and protect one’s fellow citizens from harm. These ideas clash in  Rear Window , as fulfilling this civic responsibility (which for Jeff means privately investigating Thorwald) means that Thorwald’s right to privacy gets totally thrown out the window. So to speak.

Evidently, this is a major  moral dilemma . If you suspect that someone has committed murder, does this give you the right to disregard their privacy and surveil them in this way? While the film doesn’t give a definite answer (and you won’t be required to give a definite answer), Hitchcock undoubtedly explores the complexity of this question. Even Jeff has misgivings about what he’s seeing: 

 'Do you suppose it’s ethical to watch a man with binoculars, and a long-focus lens—until you can see the freckles on the back of his neck, and almost read his mail? Do you suppose it’s ethical even if you prove he didn’t commit a crime?'

In some ways, the audience is also positioned to reflect on this question, and in particular, reflect on the paranoia that characterised and defined the McCarthy era.

Somewhat separate to these questions is the  romance  between Jeff and Lisa, since Hitchcock seems to keep the thriller storyline and the romance storyline separate for a large part of the film. Their contrasting lifestyles and world views present a major obstacle in the fulfilment of their romance, and the murder mystery both distracts and unites them. Hitchcock further alludes to the question of whether marriage will be able to settle those differences after all - a major example is the following scene, in which Lisa not only reveals her discovery of Mrs Thorwald’s ring, but also expresses a desire for Jeff to ‘put a ring on it’ as well:

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4. Cinematography

It’s impossible to study a Hitchcock film without considering how he impacted and manipulated its storytelling. The cinematographic techniques employed in  Rear Window  are important ways of shaping our understanding of the film, and Hitchcock uses a wide array of visual cues to communicate certain messages.

Lighting  is one such cue that he uses a lot - it is said that at certain points in filming, he had used every single light owned by the studio in which this film was shot. In this film, lighting is used to reveal things: when the lights are on in any given apartment, Jeff is able to peer inside and watch through the window (almost resembling a little TV screen; Jeff is also able to channel surf through the various apartments - Hitchcock uses panning to show this).

On the contrary, a lack of lighting is also used to hide things, and we see Thorwald utilise this at many stages in the film. Jeff also takes advantage of this, as he often sits in a position where he is very close to being in the shadows himself; if he feels the need, he is able to retreat such that he is fully enshrouded. Low-key lighting in these scenes also contributes to an overall sense of drama and tension.

Another handy visual cue is the  cross-cut , which is an example of the  Kuleshov effect . The Kuleshov effect is an editing technique whereby a sequence of two shots is used to convey information more effectively than just a single shot. Specifically, the cross-cut shifts from a shot of a person to a second shot of something that this person is watching.

We see this often, particularly when Jeff is responding to events in the courtyard; Hitchcock uses this cross-cut to immediately show us what has caused Jeff’s response. This visual cue indicates to viewers that we are seeing what Jeff is seeing, and is one of the few ways that Hitchcock helps audiences assume Jeff’s point-of-view in key moments.

Similarly, Hitchcock also uses  photographic vignetting  to merge our perspectives with Jeff’s - in certain shots, we see a fade in clarity and colour towards the sides of a frame, and this can look like a circular shadow, indicating to us that we are seeing something through a telescope or a long-focus lens.

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Interestingly, a vignette is also a short, descriptive scene that focuses on a certain character and/or idea to provide us with insights about them - in this sense, it’s also possible to say that Jeff watches vignettes of his neighbours. Since this word has two meanings, you must be careful about which meaning you’re referring to.

By the way, to download a PDF version of this blog for printing or offline use, click here !

5. Key Symbols

As with any other text, it’s important to consider some of the key symbols that Hitchcock draws upon in order to tell his story. That being said, one of the benefits of studying a film is that these symbols tend to be quite visual - you are able to see these recurring images and this may make them easier to spot. We’ll be going through some of these key images in the final part of this guide.

One of the first symbols we see is  Jeff’s broken leg , which is propped up and completely covered by a cast, useless for the time being. Because he has been rendered immobile by his leg, readers can infer from this symbol that he is also incapable of working or even leaving his apartment, let alone solving a murder mystery. The broken leg is in this sense a symbol of his powerlessness and the source of much of his discontent.

Another interpretation of the broken leg however, is that it represents his impotence which on one hand is synonymous for powerlessness or helplessness, but is on the other hand an allusion to his apparent inability to feel sexual desire. Being constantly distracted from Lisa by other goings-on in the courtyard definitely supports this theory. All in all, Jeff’s broken leg represents some compromise of his manhood, both in the sense that he cannot work in the way that a man would have been expected to, but also in the sense that he is unable to feel any attraction towards Lisa, even as she tries her best to seduce him.

Conversely, Jeff’s  long-focus camera lens  is a symbol of his passive male gaze, which is more or less the only thing he can do in his condition. It is the main means through which he observes other people, and thus, it also symbolises his voyeuristic tendencies - just as his broken leg traps and inhibits him, his camera lens transports him out of his own apartment and allows him to project his own fears and insecurities into the apartments of his neighbours, watching them for entertainment, for visual pleasure.

In this latter sense, the camera lens can also be understood as a phallic symbol, an erection of sorts. It highlights Jeff’s perverted nature, and the pleasure he derives from the act of observing others. Yikes.

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On the other hand,  Lisa’s dresses  underscore the more positive parts of her character. Her initial wardrobe represents her elegance and refinery whilst also communicating a degree of incompatibility with Jeff. However, as she changes and compromises throughout the film, her wardrobe also becomes much more practical and much less ostentatious as the film wears on, until she is finally wearing a smart blouse, jeans and a pair of loafers. The change in her wardrobe reflects changes in her character as well.

Finally,  the wedding ring of Mrs Thorwald  is hugely significant; wedding rings in general represent marriage and commitment, and are still very important symbols that people still wear today. Specifically, Mrs Thorwald’s ring means a couple of things in the context of the film - it is firstly a crucial piece of evidence (because if Mrs Thorwald was still alive, she would probably still be wearing it) and it is also a symbol through which Lisa can express a desire for stability, commitment and for herself to be married.

There’s definitely plenty to talk about with Hitchcock’s  Rear Window , and I hope these points of consideration help you tackle this film!

Test your film technique knowledge with the video below:

Ready to start writing on Rear Window ? Watch the Rear Window Essay Topic Breakdown:

6. Sample Essay Topics

  • In Rear Window , Hitchcock suggests that everybody can be guilty of voyeurism. Do you agree?
  • Jeff’s attempts to pursue justice are entirely without honour. To what extent is this true?
  • In the society presented in Rear Window , Jeff has more power and agency than Lisa in spite of his injury. Do you agree?
  • Discuss how the opening sequence sets up later themes and events in Rear Window .
  • 'Of course, they can do the same thing to me, watch me like a bug under glass if they want to.' Hitchcock’s Rear Window argues that it is human nature to be suspicious. To what extent do you agree?
  • Explore the role of Jeff’s courtyard neighbours in the narrative of Rear Window .
  • Jeff and Lisa’s roles in Rear Window , as well as that which they witness, reflect the broader societal tensions between the sexes of the time. Discuss.
  • 'I’m not much on rear window ethics.' The sanctity of domestic privacy supersedes the importance of public responsibility. Is this the message of Rear Window ?
  • Marriage lies at the heart of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window . Discuss.
  • Hitchcock’s Rear Window explores and ultimately condemns the spectacle made of human suffering. Is this an accurate reflection of the film?
  • Rear Window argues that it is more important to be right than to be ethical. Do you agree?
  • 'To see you is to love you.' What warnings and messages regarding attraction are offered by Hitchcock’s Rear Window ?
  • In Rear Window , women are merely objects of a sexist male gaze. To what extent do you agree?
  • In what ways do Hitchcock’s cinematic techniques enhance his storytelling in Rear Window ?
  • 'When they’re in trouble, it’s always their Girl Friday that gets them out of it.' Is Lisa the true heroine of Rear Window ?

Now it's your turn to give these essay topics a go! In our ebook A Killer Text Guide: Rear Window , we've take 5 of these essay topics and show you our analysis, brainstorm and plan for each individual topic. We then write up full A+ essays - all annotated - so that you know exactly what you need to do to replicate a 50 study scorer's success!.

7. Essay Topic Breakdown

Whenever you get a new essay topic, you can use LSG’s THINK and EXECUTE strategy - a technique to help you write better VCE essays. This essay topic breakdown will focus on the THINK part of the strategy. If you’re unfamiliar with this strategy, then check it out in How To Write A Killer Text Response because it’ll dramatically enhance how much you can take away from the following essays and more importantly, your ability to apply this strategy in your own writing.

Step 1: A nalyse

Step 2: B rainstorm

Step 3: C reate a Plan

Film technique-based prompt:

Hitchcock’s use of film techniques offers an unnerving viewing experience . Discuss.

While we should use film techniques as part of our evidence repertoire in each essay, this particular type of essay prompt literally begs for it. As such, I’d ensure that my essay has a greater focus on film techniques (without concerning myself too much over inclusion of quotes; the film techniques will act as a replacement for the quotes).

Since the essay prompt is rather open-ended, it is up to us to decide which central themes and ideas we’d like to focus on. By narrowing down the discussion possibilities ourselves, we’ll 1) make our lives easier by removing the pressure to write about everything , and 2) offer teachers and examiners a more linear and straightforward approach that will make it easier for them to follow (and give you better marks!).

The ‘unnerving viewing experience’ is present throughout the entire film, so my approach will be to divide up each paragraph into start of the film, middle of the film and end of the film discussions. This will help with my essay’s coherence (how well the ideas come together), and flow (how well the ideas logically progress from one to another).

Contention: Through a diverse range of film techniques, Hitchcock instils fear and apprehension into the audience of Rear Window .

P1: The opening sequence of Rear Window employs various film techniques to immediately establish underlying tension in its setting.

P2: Through employing the Kuleshov effect in the strategically cut scene of Miss Lonelyhearts’ attempted suicide, Hitchcock adds to the suspenseful tone of the film by developing a guilty voyeur within each viewer.

P3: In tandem with this, Hitchcock ultimately adds to the anxiety of the audience by employing lighting and cross-cutting techniques in the climax scene of the plot, in which an infuriated Thorwald attempts to enter Jeff’s apartment.

If you find this helpful, then you might want to check out our A Killer Text Guide: Rear Window ebook, which has all the information and resources you need to succeed in your exam, with detailed summaries and background information, as well as a detailed analysis of all five essay prompts!

8. Resources

Download a PDF version of this blog for printing or offline use

How To Write a Rear Window Film Analysis

Rear Window: How Does Its Message Remain Relevant Today?

The Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response

How To Write A Killer Text Response (ebook)

How To Embed Quotes in Your Essay Like a Boss

How To Turn Text Response Essays From Average to A+

5 Tips for a Mic-Drop Worthy Essay Conclusion

Updated 19/01/2021

After Darkness is currently studied in VCE English under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

1. Introduction (Plot Summary) 2. Characters and Development 3. Themes 4. Narrative Conventions/Literary Devices 5. Sample Paragraphs 6. Additional Essay Prompts and Analysis Questions to Consider 7. Tips

1. Introduction (Plot Summary)

Christine Piper’s historical fiction, After Darkness deals with suppressed fragments of the past and silenced memories. The protagonist, Dr Ibaraki, attempts to move forward with life whilst also trying to hide past confrontations as well as any remnants of his past wrongdoings and memories. The text consists of three intertwined narrative strands – Ibaraki’s past in Tokyo in 1934, his arrival in Broome in 1938 to work in a hospital there, and his arrival in a detainment camp in Loveday (South Australia) in 1942 after the outbreak of war.

2. Characters and Development

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4. Narrative Conventions/Literary Devices

  • ‘a mallee tree’ - Aboriginal word for water which symbolises purity, source of life 'if it’s hit by bushfire it grows back from the root with lots of branches, like all the others here. It’s a tough tree. Drought, bushfire…it’ll survive almost anything…I was struck by the ingenuity of the tree in its ability to generate and create a new shape better suited to the environment.'
  • The tag with 'the character ko…[with] its loop of yellowed string...The knot at the end had left an impression on the page behind it: a small indentation, like a scar.'


  • 'Felt like hell on earth'
  • 'The hollow trunks of dead trees haunted its edges like lost people' - Can also link to the landscape narrative convention
  • 'The scene was like a photograph, preserving the strangeness of the moment.'

Description of the hospital atmosphere where the patient next to Hayashi laid

  • 'Only the windows were missing, leaving dark holes like the eyes of an empty soul'
  • 'The photos reached me first. I leafed through the black and white images: swollen fingers, blistered toes, blackened faces, and grotesque, rotting flesh that shrivelled and puckered to reveal bone. The final photo depicted a child’s chubby hands, the tips of the fingers all black.' - Also foreshadowing death of his and Kayoko’s child

Pathetic Fallacy:

  • 'That afternoon, the sky darkened, and the wind picked up…making the world outside opaque.'
  • Middlemarch (book) which symbolises Ibaraki and Sister Bernice’s friendship as Bernice was left behind
  • Robinson Crusoe
  • 'Being able to conduct research in this way has delivered unparalleled knowledge, which we’ve already passed on to the army to minimise further loss of life.'
  • 'You haafu fools don’t deserve the Japanese blood in you!'
  • 'You bloody racist!'
  • 'You fucking Emperor-worshipping pig...!'
  • 'Haafu' - Derogatory, racism term used to define those who are biracial (half Japanese):

An interpretation of the language use throughout the text could be Piper’s way of humanising the Japanese people to her readers and notifying them that they also have their own culture and form of communication

Another interpretation of the language use is to show that both the Australians and Japanese are just as cruel as each other because they show no respect to one another and use language in such a brutal way

Ibaraki represents that divide where he can speak both languages, yet still, cannot voice his own opinion or stand up for himself (link to theme of silence)


  • 'The void seemed to have a force of its own, drawing the meaning of the words into it.'
  • 'The engine coughed into life.'


  • 'snow was falling as I walked home from the station – the first snow of the season.' - Foreshadowing the storm about to come in his life
  • 'A black silhouette against the fallen snow.' - Foreshadowing Kayoko’s death

5. Sample Paragraphs

'But as soon as you show a part of yourself, almost at once you hide it away.' Ibaraki’s deepest flaw in After Darkness is his failure to reveal himself. Do you agree?

Christine Piper’s historical fiction, After Darkness explores the consequences that an individual will be forced to endure when they choose to conceal the truth from their loved ones. Piper reveals that when a person fails to reveal themselves, it can eventually become a great obstacle which keeps them from creating meaningful and successful relationships. Additionally, Piper asserts that it can be difficult for an individual to confront their past and move completely forward with their present, especially if they believed their actions were morally wrong. Furthermore, Piper highlights the importance of allowing people into one’s life as a means to eliminate the build-up the feelings of shame and guilt. ‍

Body Paragraph

Piper acknowledges that some people will find it difficult to open up to others about their past due to them accumulating a large amount of regret and guilt over time. This is the case for Ibaraki as he was involved with the ‘experiments’ when he was working in the ‘Epidemic Prevention Laboratory', in which Major Kimura sternly told him to practise ‘discretion and not talk ‘about [his] work to anybody'. The inability to confide in his wife or mother after performing illegal and mentally disturbing actions causes him to possess a brusque conduct towards others, afraid that they will discover his truth and ‘not be able to look at [him] at all'. His failure to confess his past wrongdoings shapes the majority of his life, ruining his marriage and making him feel the need ‘to escape’ from his losses and ‘start afresh'. He eventually lies to his mother by making her believe that he ‘had gone to Kayoko’s parents’ house’ for the break, avoiding any questions from being raised about his job. As a consequence, he fails to tell his family about his horrid past suggesting that he has accepted that ‘[his] life had become one that others whispered about'. Juxtaposed to Ibaraki’s stress relieving methods, Kayoko confides in her mother after she receives news of her miscarriage, highlighting that when one willingly shares their pain with loved ones, it can release the burden as well as provide them with some assistance. In contrast to this, Ibaraki’s guilty conscience indicates that he will take ‘the secret to his grave', making it extremely difficult for people he encounters to understand him and form a meaningful connection with him. Nonetheless, Piper does not place blame on Ibaraki as he was ordered to keep the ‘specimen’ business hidden from society, thereby inviting her readers to keep in mind that some individuals are forced by others to not reveal their true colours for fear of ruining a specific reputation.

Throughout the journey in After Darkness , Piper engendered that remaining silent about one’s past events that shapes their future is one of the deepest flaws. She notes that for people to understand and form bonds with one another, it is extremely important to reveal their identity as masking it only arises suspicions. Piper postulates that for some, memories are nostalgic; whereas, for others it carries an unrelenting burden of guilt, forcing them to hide themselves which ultimately becomes the reason as to why they feel alone in their life.

6. Additional Essay Prompts and Analysis Questions to Consider

  • Analyse the role of silence in After Darkness . Compare the ways in which the characters in the text utilise or handle silence. What is Piper suggesting about the notion of silence?
  • Discuss the importance of friendship in the text. What is it about friends that make the characters appear more human? How can friendship bolster development in one’s character?
  • Racism and nationalism are prominent themes in the text. How are the two interlinked? Explore the ways they are shown throughout the text and by different characters. Is Piper indicating that the two always lead to negative consequences?
  • Analyse some of the narrative conventions (imagery, simile, metaphor, symbols, motifs, landscapes, language, etc.) in the novel and what they mean to certain characters and to the readers.
  • Explore the ways in which the text emphasises that personal conscience can oftentimes hold people back from revealing their true thoughts and feelings.
  • Character transformation (bildungsroman) is prevalent throughout the text. What is Piper suggesting through Ibaraki’s character in terms of the friendships and acquaintances he has formed and how have they impacted him? How have these relationships shaped him as a person in the past and present? Were such traits he developed over time beneficial for himself and those around him or have they caused the destruction of once healthy relationships?

If you'd like to see how to break down an essay topic, you might like to check out our After Darkness Essay Topic Breakdown blog post!

  • Be sure to read as many academic articles as you can find in relation to the text in order to assist you with in-depth analysis when writing your essays. This will help you to stand out from the crowd and place you in a higher standing compared to your classmates as your ideas will appear much more sophisticated and thought-out.
  • Being clear and concise with the language choices is such a crucial factor. Don’t over complicate the ideas you are trying to get across to your examiners by incorporating ‘big words’ you believe will make your writing appear of higher quality, because in most cases, it does the exact opposite (see Why Using Big Words in VCE Essays Can Make You Look Dumber ). Be careful! If it's a choice between using simpler language that your examiners will understand vs. using more complex vocabulary where it becomes difficult for the examiners to understand what you're trying to say, the first option is best! Ideally though, you want to find a balance between the two - a clearly written, easy to understand essay with more complex vocabulary and language woven into it.
  • If there is a quote in the prompt, be sure to embed the quote into the analysis, rather than making the quote its own sentence. You only need to mention this quote once in the entire essay. How To Embed Quotes in Your Essay Like a Boss has everything you need to know for this!

If you'd like to see sample A+ essays complete with annotations on HOW and WHY the essays achieved A+, then you'll definitely want to check out our After Darkness Study Guide ! In it, we also cover advanced discussions on topics like structural features and context, completely broken down into easy-to-understand concepts so you can smash your next SAC or exam! Check it out here .

Most people only think about EXECUTING their essay - the writing. Whether that be essay structure, memorising quotes or how to avoid repeating yourself in the dreaded conclusion. However, my strategy places emphasis on the THINK. 

THINK is the brainstorm, exploration, and development of ideas. Get this right, and you'll come up with ideas and a response that pushes you ahead of your peers. The EXECUTION comes next, only strengthening your lead to the finish line.

So what does THINK actually involve? 🤔

You need to consider aspects of an essay topic that most students gloss over, including:

💭What's the essay topic type ?

Knowing the essay topic type will change your essay structure. While you might wish for a one-size-fits-all essay structure, this is a limited viewpoint that stops you from reaching your potential. Different essay types include:

  • Theme-based prompts
  • Character-based prompts
  • Author's message-based prompts
  • Metalanguage-based prompts

By understand what's required in each one of these essay topic types, you'll have a template you can follow to ensure that you answer the prompt (no more complaints from your teacher complaining that you're going off topic!).

💭 What are the question tags ?

Never heard of this term previously? That's because majority of teachers don't teach you to change your Text Response according to the question tag. A ' do you agree?' essay topic expects a different response from a 'discuss' essay topic.

💭 How do I ensure I respond to each keyword ?

This is important so you don't go off topic (we've all at least experienced this once in our high school writing careers 😥). Sometimes, one missed keyword is all it takes to derail your entire essay. No matter how well you've written your essay, an essay that doesn't answer the prompt won't fare well.

For example, have a think about which keywords can be found in this essay topic "Jeff's attempt to pursue justice are entirely without honour. To what extent is this true?".

For me, the keywords include:

- 'Attempt'

- 'Pursue justice'

- 'Entirely'

- 'Honour'

- 'To what extent is this true?'

Even though I've labelled almost every word in the essay topic, individually, each of these keywords will shape my response. Majority of students will pick up the necessity to discuss the keyword 'entirely' in their essays. They will potentially argue that Jeff's attempt isn't entirely without honour, and mention instances where honour was shown. However, a less obvious keyword that needs further exploration is 'justice'. Most students will take this word for granted, and won't really explore what the word 'justice' means in this sentence. A more advanced student will understand that 'justice' in this essay topic is viewed from Jeff's perspective, meaning that what Jeff deems to be 'justice', might not be the same 'justice' for a viewer. These are the nuances in an essay topic that I'd like you to be very confident in.

Knowing how to THINK will ensure that you EXECUTE your essay writing most effectively, optimising your potential to nail that A+. If I went from average to consistent A+s in Year 11 and Year 12, I have no doubt you can do it too. That's why I created the How To Write a Killer Text Response ebook.

I know that you are probably like I was, searching for a clear, simple way to get better at English without just relying on my teacher (despite the fact that I had a great teacher!). I've compiled my 10 years of tutoring English, refining this strategy year after year. With this knowledge, many of my students achieved a study score they thought was impossible (one student Ruby, wanted a study score of 30 to get into her university course, and ultimately achieved a 40 study score! WOW! 😮).

If you're interested, How To Write a Killer Text Response ebook shows you the inner workings of my brain 💭- what I think when I see an essay topic, how I tackle it, and how I turn these thoughts into a high-scoring essay. The ebook includes:

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‍ - 50-pages teaching you how to respond to ANY essay topic

- Examples from 15+ popular VCE English texts

- Know exactly what to  THINK  about so you can formulate the best possible essay response

- Plus a bonus 20-pages of high vs low scoring essays , fully annotated (what works and what doesn't) so you know exactly what you need to do and what not to do

Click here to access the FULL version now!

This blog was updated on 23/10/2020.

2. Historical Context

3. Part 1: Plot

4. Part 1: Quotes and Analysis ‍

5. Themes, Motifs, and Key Ideas

6. Character Analysis

7. Structure

8. Sample Essay Topics

9. Essay Topic Breakdown

The Dressmaker is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

Set in Dungatar, a barren wasteland of traditionalism and superstition, isolated amidst the rapidly modernising post-World War II Australia, acclaimed author Rosalie Ham’s gothic novel, The Dressmaker , provides a fascinating window into 1950s Australia. I find it to be one of the most intriguing texts of our time - managing to weave together a historical narrative with humour, wit, and modern-day social concerns regarding patriarchy, class, and the effects of isolation.

The Dressmaker is one of those texts which reinforces why studying English can be so great when you give it a proper chance. This subject isn’t just about studying books and writing essays, it’s also about learning new insight you’ll carry with you throughout your life. Specifically, The Dressmaker offers real insight into some of the most pressing issues that have been around for centuries - how communities respond to crisis, why certain groups are marginalised, and how we should respond to tyranny and intolerance. Ham’s novel is layered with meaning, character development, and a moving plot which really helps us reflect on who we are as people. Not every book can do that - and, seemingly, on a surface level, you wouldn’t expect a novel about fashion and betrayal to do it either. But somehow, it just does, and it’s what makes The Dressmaker one of my favourite books of all time.

Before we move on to looking at The Dressmaker’s plot and delving deep into analysis, it’s really important to understand the main historical context which underpins the novel. By ‘historical context’, all we mean here is the factual background which tells us why Rosalie Ham wrote her novel, and why she chose the particular setting of Dungatar. After all, Dungatar is a fictionalised community, but its references to post-World War II Australia are very real. The main message I want you to take from this section is that understanding 1950s Australia is essential to understanding Dungatar.

Australian Geography and the Great Depression

Before we delve into talking about this historical theme, I’d like to first acknowledge that Australia was colonised against the wishes of its First Nations peoples, and also recognise that sovereignty was never ceded. This discussion broadly reflects the experiences of colonised Australia because that is the frame which Rosalie Ham provides. However, at Lisa’s Study Guides, we acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which this study guide was written, edited, and published, and pay our respects to elders past, present, and emerging. 

Ham’s fictional setting of Dungatar is a perfect example, as it is placed in the Australian Outback. The ‘Outback’ doesn’t exactly have any borders, so which regions of Australia count as part of the 'outback' will be slightly different from person to person. A general rule to help us understand the Outback is that it is way out in the centre of the country, far away from urban Australia. Its main industry is pastoralism, which refers to the grazing of cattle, sheep, and other species such as goats. This is a tough lifestyle, and as such small towns and a lot of room for livestock is preferable. These communities are often isolated, and don’t really communicate with the outside world unless it’s about trading their livestock into the cities. Isolation tends to create its own culture, practices, and social standards. For Dungatar, we see massive economic divides and strict expectations around the role of men and women. For instance, the McSwineys live in absolute poverty, yet Councilman Evan and his family are relatively wealthy. Most of the women in the town either care for children or stay at home, reflecting the outdated idea that it is the role of the man to work, and the role of the woman to be a homemaker. As much as we can look at these ideas and realise how flawed they are, for Dungatar it is a way of life to which they’ve stuck for decades. Changing this way of life would be dangerous for them because it means they have to completely reconsider the way they live.

Part 1: Plot

  • Myrtle Dunnage arrives in Dungatar after many years, seeking to care for her mother Molly Dunnage. 
  • Myrtle, who now wishes to be known as Tilly, reconnects with Sergeant Farrat, Dungatar’s eccentric local policeman who is doing his evening lap in the town. He takes Tilly through the town and up ‘The Hill’, which is where Molly lives. 
  • While Tilly is caring for Molly, mental and physical illness causes her to believe that Tilly is an outsider who wishes to poison her. Tilly perseveres in order to shower, feed, and clothe the woman, as well as clear out the house.
  • The perspective changes to Sergeant Farrat, who is patrolling the town centre a day later. He sees a returned William Beaumont sitting in a car. Moving into Muriel and Alvin Pratt’s General Store, Farrat claims to be buying fabric for his house. Their daughter Gertrude, who is reading a fashion magazine, realises that the material he is buying fits with the latest skirt designs across Australia.
  • After learning about Mr Almanac’s pharmacy, the footballers move into Purl and Fred Bundle’s pub. 
  • The readers are introduced to the McSwiney family, who with Edward and Mae as the father and mother, have 11 children. They’re said to live in the tip at the edge of town. 
  • The following weekend Tilly and Molly leave The Hill to attend the football match played in Dungatar between the two neighbouring towns, Itheca and Winyerp. Lois Pickett and Beula Harridene give her an immediately negative reaction, taking offence when Molly questions whether their cakes are poisoned.
  • After getting medicine from Mr. Almanac and his assistant Nancy, Tilly and Molly run into Irma, his sickly wife. Her arthritis makes mobility difficult, and as such she is found sitting on the bank of the river, where she asks Tilly not to let the town know that she had been cooking meals for Molly in Tilly’s absence.
  • Nancy and Sister Ruth Dimm are shown to be having a secret relationship in the back of the phone exchange building before the perspective moves back to Buela Harridene, who demands that Sergeant Farrat investigate the McSwiney children for supposedly pelting her roof with stones.
  • Tilly sits on the riverbank, remembering her memories and trauma in Dungatar, with the crucial event being when Stewart Pettyman attempted to headbutt Tilly, but she moved out of the way, causing him to ram into a wall, snap his neck and die.
  • Marigold and Evan Pettyman are introduced to the audience, with Marigold being a nervous individual who is put to sleep by Evan with pills every night and sexually assaulted.
  • Following Dungatar’s victory in the grand finale, which sends frivolity and celebration throughout the town, a package arrives for Tilly. Ruth reads through all its contents after picking its lock whilst Tilly reluctantly meets with Teddy, who continues to visit her. 
  • Tilly and Molly visit the Almanacs for dinner, wherein Tilly’s medicine causes Irma’s pain to disappear. Although Mr Almanac is unpleasant – stating that Tilly can never be forgiven for Pettyman’s death – the night moves on, Tilly returns home and is visited by Teddy yet again. 

Part 1: Quotes and Analysis ‍

“She used to have a lot of falls, which left her with a black eye or a cut lip.”

Here, Ham subtly hints that Irma Almanac’s injuries were not solely due to ‘falls’, as it is also said that once her husband grew old the ‘falls’ progressively ceased. Abuse of women is common in Dungatar, and it is almost expected that women will be subservient to men and do as they demand.

“His new unchecked gingham skirt hung starched and pressed on the wardrobe doorknob behind him.”

Sergeant Farrat subverts social expectations placed upon 1950s men by adoring feminine fashion. However, the fact that he is forced to hide his passion reveals how, in conservative towns such as Dungatar, individuals are forced to suppress their true selves in order to fit in with the broader population. There is no room for individuality or creative expression, as this is seen as a challenge to Dungatar’s social order and the clear separation between the roles of men and women.

“What’s the point of having a law enforcer if he enforces the law according to himself, not the legal law?”

Buela Harridene pretends to care about the enforcement of the law, but her true concern is bending the law to her own will to make those who step outside of their socially defined roles suffer. She is at odds with Sergeant Farrat as he seeks to control the townspeople’s worst instincts, yet people like Buela ensure that vengeance, rumour, and suspicion are still the defining features of Dungatar.

“Well let me tell you if he’s got any queer ideas we’ll all suffer.”

Although this specifically refers to William Beaumont, it alludes to the broader picture that the people of Dungatar believe that any outside ideas fundamentally threaten everything about the way they live. Even before Beaumont has opened his mouth, he is already a threat since he may have witnessed another way of living disconnected from Dungatar’s conservatism.

If you'd like to see the all Chapter plots, their analysis, along with important quotes, then have a look at our The Dressmaker Study Guide.

Themes, Motifs, and Key Ideas

Isolation and modernisation.

One of the central conflicts in The Dressmaker is between the isolated town of Dungatar, and the rapidly modernising surroundings of post-depression 1950s Australia, as we established in Historical Context . Ham uses this dichotomy (meaning when two opposing factors are placed right next to each other) to question whether isolated communities like Dungatar really have a role in the modern world . 

Our clearest indication that Dungatar is not only traditionalistic, but absolutely reviles change and outside influence , is right at the start of the novel, when a train conductor laments that there’s “naught that’s poetic about damn [progress].” Here, we see the overriding contention of Rosalie Ham’s novel - that because a community like Dungatar has been isolated for so long, it has become absolutely committed to maintaining its traditionalism at all costs. There are more symbolic reflections of how stagnant the town has become, such as the fact that Evan Pettyman, the town’s elected Councillor, has been in the role for multiple decades without fail - or that the same teacher who ostracised Tilly as a child, Prudence Dimm, is still in charge of the town’s school. 

Social Class

The Dressmaker speaks extensively about social class. By class, what I mean is the economic and social divisions which determine where people sit in society. For instance, we could say that the British Royals are ‘upper class’, whilst people living paycheque to paycheque and struggling to get by are ‘lower class’. 

It's also important to introduce the notion of a classist society. A classist society is one where all social relations are built on these aforementioned economic and social divides - in other words, everything you do in life, and everything you are able to do , is built on where you sit in the class structure. 

For The Dressmaker , the question then becomes - "how does class relate to Dungatar?" Well, Dungatar is one of the most classist societies around, where societal worth is explicitly based on one’s position in the class structure.

Femininity, Fashion, and Patriarchy

By now, you’ve probably realised that The Dressmaker ’s title is significant. Fashion and ‘dressmaking’ are absolutely essential to understanding the life of Tilly Dunnage, and how she interacts with the people of Dungatar . We’ll go into this further, but Ham specifically delves into the power of fashion as a form of expression which empowers people and their femininity , yet she also examines how, in a community like Dungatar, fashion nonetheless ends up being entirely destructive.  Dungatar and Femininity

The idea of femininity describes, on a basic level, the ability of a woman to express herself independent of any man. Others would describe femininity in more definitive terms, but it’s really in the eyes of the beholder. What’s explicitly clear, however, is  that, in order to suppress femininity, women in Dungatar are repressed and kept under the control of men. Marigold Pettyman is raped by her husband, Evan Pettyman every night, while the “ladies of Dungatar…turn their backs” when they see the Councillor coming - knowing his crimes, but being too afraid to challenge him. Above all else, Dungatar exists within a patriarchal framework, which is one where men hold structural power and authority, and that power relies on keeping women silent and subservient. In such a society, the role of women in Dungatar is vacuous (meaning that they don’t have any real purpose) - they frill about, spread rumours, and otherwise have no set roles other than to be obedient to their husband. 

Fashion as Empowerment

Within this context, Rosalie Ham explores the power of fashion to empower femininity, and, even if it’s in a limited sense, give the patriarchy its first real challenge. Gertrude is a perfect example, as Tilly’s dressmaking sees her eventually transform at her wedding, even though she is initially described as a “good mule” by Sergeant Farrat; symbolically being stripped of her humanity and beauty by being compared to an animal. However, Gertrude becomes the spectacle of the town at her wedding, wearing a “fine silk taffeta gown” and presenting an elegant, empowered image. The townspeople even note that Tilly is an “absolute wizard with fabric and scissors”, and, with the use of the word ‘wizard’, it becomes evident that the women of Dungatar are absolutely unaccustomed to having any form of expression or individuality - a patriarchal standard which Tilly challenges through her work. 

Think also about Sergeant Farrat. Even if he isn’t a woman, he nonetheless is able to embrace his feminine side through fashion. Indeed his “gingham skirt” and secretive love of female fashion is utilised by Ham to demonstrate that, even in a patriarchal settlement like Dungatar , fashion is immensely empowering and important.

Fashion and Destruction

However, as always, Ham elucidates that there too exists a dark side to fashion in a town like Dungatar. Ultimately, the women of Dungatar, in their elegant dresses, end up looking like a “group of European aristocrats’ wives who had somehow lost their way”. What this quote tells us is that, despite a temporary possibility for empowerment, the women of Dungatar did not fundamentally change their identities. As “aristocrats’ wives”, they are still tied to a patriarchal system in which, even if they were better dressed, nothing was ultimately done to overcome their tradition for rumour, suspicion, and ostracising outcasts. Indeed, this becomes most evident at the Social Ball, where, despite wearing Tilly’s dresses, her name is “scrubb[ed] out” from the seating list - symbolically expressing a desire for Tilly’s modernising, urban, outside influence to be removed from Dungatar, even as they simultaneously wear her dresses! 

Character Analysis

Tilly dunnage .

Tilly, or Myrtle Dunnage, is the protagonist of The Dressmaker , and an acclaimed dressmaker trained in Paris . Analysing Tilly requires an understanding that she believes she is cursed: starting with being exiled from Dungatar after the accidental death of Stewart Pettyman, and then finding her “seven month old” baby Pablo “in his cot...dead”, as well as witnessing the deaths of Teddy and Molly. In her own words, she is “falser than vows made in wine”, and does not personally believe she can be trusted. This pessimistic perspective on life inspires Tilly to adopt an incredibly individualistic understanding of the world; believing that the only way for her to survive is embracing her individual worth and rejecting toxic communities. Indeed, although Tilly initially arrived in Dungatar to care for her mother - a selfless act - the town spiralling into vengeance only confirmed Tilly’s pessimism. Her modern dressmaking ultimately could not change a fundamentally corrupt community predicated on “nothing ever really chang[ing]”, and therefore the maintenance of a culture of rumour and suspicion . Indeed, in “raz[ing Dungatar] to the ground”, Rosalie Ham reminds us that Tilly is an unapologetically individually-focused person, and will not tolerate anyone, or anything, which seeks to make her conform to the status quo and repress her individuality.

Molly Dunnage 

Molly Dunnage is Tilly’s mother, a bedridden, elderly woman whose sickness drives Tilly back into Dungatar. Molly is commonly known as ‘Mad Molly’ by the townspeople, but what this hides is the fact that Molly was not born mentally insane. Rather, after being “tormented” by Evan Pettyman into having his illegitimate child and seeing Tilly exiled from Dungatar, the malicious actions of the community drive her into insanity. Even in her incapacitated and crazed state, Molly holds such love for Tilly that she attempts to stop her engaging with the community, and thus the symbolism of Molly “dismant[ling] her sewing machine entirely” was that, due to her experiences, she did not believe that the people of Dungatar would ever accept Tilly, either as a dressmaker or a person . Molly’s death is ultimately a pivotal event, and awakens Tilly to the fact that only “revenge [could be] our cause”, and thus that Dungatar is fundamentally irredeemable.

Teddy McSwiney 

Teddy McSwiney is the eldest son of the McSwiney family, Dungatar’s poorest residents. Teddy is a unique case, as although he’s a McSwiney, he is noted for being incredibly well-liked in the town - even going so far as to be described by Purl as the town’s “priceless full forward” in Dungatar’s AFL team. Nonetheless, as we discussed under the Social Class theme, Dungatar remains an unashamedly classist society, and as such, despite Teddy being valued in his usefulness as a footy player and the “nice girls lov[ing] him”, he “was a McSwiney” - discounted from the town’s dating scene or any true level of social worth. Teddy becomes essential to the plot when he and Tilly spark a budding romance. Whereas the majority of Dungatar rejects Tilly or refuses to stand against the crowd, Teddy actively seeks to remind Tilly of her worth - saying that he “doesn’t believe in curses”. However, his death after suffocating in a “sorghum mill” reiterates a sad reality in Dungatar; it is always the most vulnerable townspeople who pay the price for classist discrimination, ostracisation, and suspicion.  

Sergeant Farrat 

Sergeant Farrat is one of The Dressmaker’s most interesting characters. On the surface, he’s nothing but a police officer who manages Dungatar. However, Farrat’s position is far more complex than meets the eye - as a police officer, he is entrusted with enforcing the “legal law”, yet must also contain the influence of malicious individuals such as Buela Harradine who would otherwise use the enforcement of that law to spread slander about individuals like the McSwineys, who she considers “bludgers” and “thieves”. Despite Dungatar’s complications, Farrat considers the townspeople “his flock”, and this religious, Christ-like imagery here tells us how he is essentially their protector. Farrat is, in essence, entrusted with preventing the townspeople from destroying themselves (by now, we all know how easily the townspeople slide into hatred and division!). Here’s the interesting thing though - at the same time Sergeant Farrat is protecting Dungatar, he is also personally repressed by its conservative standards. Rosalie Ham establishes Farrat as a man with a love for vibrant, expressive, female fashion, and from his “gingham skirts” which he sews in private to his time spent with Tilly while she sews, Ham demonstrates to us that Dungatar’s conservatism affects everyone. Even though he tries to defend Tilly as the townspeople descend on her after Teddy’s death, Tilly destroys his house along with Dungatar anyway - signalling that, no matter how hard Sergeant Farrat tried to reconcile his position as protector of Dungatar and his own person, the town could not be saved.

The Dressmaker is written in the Gothic style, which means it combines romance with death and horror, particularly horror of the emotional kind. The Dressmaker is divided into four sections, each named after a type of fabric Tilly uses in her work. You can use these in your essays to show how important dressmaking and fashion is to the plot’s progression, especially considering each section starts with fabric. The four types are:

A fabric made from cotton or yarn, with a checkered shape. Gingham is often used as a ‘test fabric’ in designing fashion or for making tablecloths. This gives it a rustic, imperfect feel signifying Tilly’s return to her hometown and complicated past. The name is thought to originate from a Malay word meaning ‘separate’, mirroring Tilly’s feelings of isolation from the rest of Dungatar. In this section of the novel, Sergeant Farrat also buys gingham fabric to secretly make into a skirt, symbolising how the town is still rife with secrets and a disparity between the public and private personas of its inhabitants. 

2. Shantung

A fabric used for bridal gowns. Gertrude is married in this section and her dress, which Tilly makes, is the first instance where the town witnesses her work. Shantung originates from China, matching this notion of exoticism and foreignness which seeing the dress spreads among the townspeople. 

A fabric noted for its ability to be used for a wide variety of purposes. This is the section in which the ball occurs and a variety of Tilly’s dresses are unveiled for the town to see. 

A richly decorative fabric made with threads of gold and silver. Brocade is used primarily for upholstery, drapery, and costumes. This is a reference to the costumes of Dungatar’s play, the climax of the novel which occurs in this section.

1. “They looked like a group of European aristocrats’ wives who had somehow lost their way.” Fashion is both liberating and oppressive. Discuss.

2. How does Rosalie Ham represent the power of love throughout The Dressmaker?

3. Gender repression is rife in The Dressmaker . To what extent do you agree?

4. “Damn progress, there’s naught that’s poetic about diesel or electric. Who needs speed?” What is Ham’s essential message about progress in The Dressmaker?

Now it's your turn! Give these essay topics a go. For more sample essay topics, head over to our The Dressmaker Study Guide to practice writing essays using the analysis you've learnt in this blog!

Whenever you get a new essay topic, you can use LSG’s THINK and EXECUTE strategy , a technique to help you write better VCE essays. This essay topic breakdown will focus on the THINK part of the strategy. If you’re unfamiliar with this strategy, then check it out in How To Write A Killer Text Response .

Theme-Based Prompt: Rosalie Ham’s The Dressmaker condemns fundamentally oppressive communities. Discuss.

We’ve got a theme-based prompt here, which really calls for your essay to be explicitly focused on the theme at hand. That means that we shouldn’t stray from the idea of ‘oppressive communities’. Keep it as the centre of your essay and look at how events relate to this idea - we’ll break it down more in Step 2 so you can properly explore it.

Because there’s a ‘Discuss’ qualifier added to the end of the prompt, a clear and concise contention is really important. What you’re being asked to do is, again, stick with the topic frame. That means that going for the usual “two agree, one disagree” structure is decent, but I wouldn’t suggest it as the most efficient way to go. Instead, what you’ll see that I do with this essay is ‘discuss’ how the topic is present throughout all three of our arguments.

Let’s start by breaking down the key words of the topic.

We have the idea of an ‘oppressive community’, which refers to communities that are built on marginalising certain individuals so the majority can maintain power . This is quite a clear reference to Dungatar, but expect that most essay questions for The Dressmaker won’t directly reference Tilly or the town, even if they’re quite clearly talking about them. Something for which you should look out – don’t let the wording phase you!

The addition of the word ‘fundamentally’ doesn’t change that much, but what it does tell us is that the essay is asking us to agree that Dungatar is oppressive to its core. In other words, its ‘fundamentals’ are based on oppression. I would not recommend trying to disagree with this basic premise, as it means you’re going against the topic in a ‘Discuss’ prompt which, as we discussed above, isn’t the best option in my view.

One of the most logical ways to approach this topic is a chronological structure. By that, what I mean is following the text in the order events occur; before Tilly’s arrival, during Tilly’s time in Dungatar, and the consequences that arise after they make her an outcast once again.

This way, you can stay on topic and look at how Dungatar is oppressive even before Tilly shows up again, how that ramps up as she establishes her dressmaking business, and what Ham’s final message is on rejecting oppressive communities and embracing individual worth.

If you find this essay breakdown helpful, then you might want to check out our The Dressmaker Study Guide where we cover 5 A+ sample essays with EVERY essay annotated and broken down on HOW and WHY these essays achieved A+ so you reach your English goals! Let's get started.

How To Write A Killer Text Response Study Guide

How to embed quotes in your essay like a boss

How to turn your Text Response essays from average to A+

5 Tips for a mic drop worthy essay conclusion

Picture this: you’re sitting down at your desk, fumbling your fingers, inspecting the new stationary that you convinced yourself you needed for year 12, resisting the urge to check your phone. Your text response SAC is in two weeks. You’re freaking out because you want, no, need an A+. You decide to write a practice essay for your English teacher. Practice makes perfect, right? You stay up for hours, pouring your heart and soul into this essay. The result? B+. Where did I go wrong?

That’s where I come in! Writing an A+ essay can be really tough without examples and specific advice. Before reading on, make sure you've read our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response and Golden Age blog so you are up to scratch.

In this article I will be explaining some basic dos and don’ts of writing an essay on The Golden Age , providing a model essay as an example. At the end of this blog is also a video based on another essay prompt to help you prepare for your Golden Age studies!

The following prompt will be referenced throughout the post;

‘The Golden Age’ shows that everyone needs love and recognition. Discuss.

Planning: the silent killer of A+ essays

I’m sure your teachers have emphasised the importance of planning. In case they haven’t, allow me to reiterate that great planning is compulsory for a great essay . However, flimsy arguments aren’t going to get you an A+. The examiners are looking for complex arguments , providing a variety of perspectives of the themes at hand. From the above prompt, the key word is, ‘discuss’. This means that you should be discussing the prompt, not blindly agreeing with it . Make sure you don’t write anything that wouldn’t sit right with London. ‍

Don’t plan out basic arguments that are one-dimensional. This may give you a pass in English, but won’t distinguish you as a top-scoring student.

For example:

  • Paragraph 1: The children at TGA need love and recognition.
  • Paragraph 2: Ida and Meyer need love and recognition
  • Paragraph 3: Sister Penny needs love and recognition.

The above paragraphs merely agree with the statement, but don’t delve into the many aspects of the novel that could contribute to a sophisticated essay.

Do create complex arguments, or paragraphs with a twist! If you can justify your argument and it makes sense, include it in your essay. There are many ways that you could answer this question, but my plan looks like this:

  • Paragraph 1: Frank Gold yearns for mature, adult love, not recognition from onlookers or outsiders
  • Paragraph 2: Ida Gold does not seek recognition from Australia, but love and validation from herself
  • Paragraph 3: Albert requires love from a specific kind of relationship – family, and Sullivan may view love from his father as pity which he rebukes

See the difference?

The introduction:

How to start your essay off with a bang.

Personally, I always struggled with starting an introduction. The examiners will be reading and marking thousands of essays, so if possible, starting your introduction with something other than Joan London’s ‘The Golden Age’… is a great way to make you stand out from the crowd. Having a strong start is essential to pave the way for a clear and concise essay. You could start with a quote/scene from the text! This is not essential, but it’s a great way to mix things up. This is my start:

Perhaps nothing exemplifies the power of love and recognition more than the bond between Albert Sutton and his older sister, Lizzie, in Joan London’s ‘The Golden Age’. Many of London’s characters exhibit suffering that requires compassion and support to heal and grow, to distinguish present from past. However, London explores the perspectives of such characters from different aspects of trauma, and emphasise that love and recognition do not always work to heal and mature. Frank Gold, the novel’s resident “sneaky” boy who adjusts to newfound life in the Golden Age Convalescent Home seeks love as an adult, rather than eliciting sympathy as a supposed victim. Here love and recognition are unsuccessful in amending Frank’s troubles when given from the perspective of an outsider, a judgemental onlooker. In a similar sense, Ida Gold seeks recognition not from Australia, who she views as a ‘backwater’, but validation in herself after having been ousted from her Hungarian identity. London, however, makes sure to emphasise the impact that Sullivan has on Frank Gold’s life. Sullivan, a boy only a few years older than Frank, seems content with his future, with his fate, despite his sacrifice of rugby and conventional life.  There is a lacking sense of urgency for love and recognition in Sullivan’s life, rather, it appears that Sullivan accepts his fate, regardless of his father’s sympathy or support. Thus, London explores a myriad of ways in which love and recognition may or may not heal wounds inflicted upon individuals.

Remember, there are many other ways you could start your essay.

The body paragraphs: To TEEL or not to TEEL?

I’m sure you’ve heard of TEEL countless times since year 7. Topic sentence, evidence, explanation, link. The truth is that these elements are all very important in a body paragraph. However, following a rigid structure will render your essay bland and repetitive. It is also extremely important to note that you should be using evidence from multiple points in the text , and you should be making sure that your paragraphs are directly answering the question . Write what feels natural to you, and most importantly, don’t abuse a thesaurus . If you can’t read your essay without rummaging for a dictionary every second sentence, you should rewrite it.  If vocabulary isn’t your strong point (it definitely isn’t mine!), focus on clean sentence structure and solid arguments. There’s nothing worse than you using a fancy word incorrectly.

Don’t overuse your thesaurus in an attempt to sound sophisticated, and don’t use the same structure for every sentence. For example:

Prematurely in the paperback London makes an allusion to Norm White, the denizen horticulturalist of The Golden Age Convalescent Home…

That was an exaggerated example generated by searching for synonyms. As you can see, it sounds silly, and some of the words don’t even make sense. I mean, “denizen horticulturalist”…really?

Do mix up your paragraph structure! If vocabulary is your weak point, focus on clean language.

Here’s mine:

Early in the novel, London makes reference to Norm White, the resident groundskeeper of The Golden Age Convalescent Home. Norm White hands Frank Gold a cigarette, “as if to say a man has the right to smoke in peace”. Here, there is a complete disregard for rule and convention, an idea that London emphasises throughout the text. This feature provides a counter-cultural experience for Frank, pushing him to realise that he is a strong human being rather than a mere victim. This is a clear contrast to the “babyishness” of the home, and is used as evidence of true humanity in an era where society judged upon the unconventional. Frank yearns for a traditional Australian life after his trauma in Hungary; “his own memory…lodged like an attic in the front part of his brain”. Hedwiga and Julia Marai’s caring of him pushed him towards fear and reluctance to trust, yet also pressured him to seek acceptance in a world that ostracises him for his Jewish heritage and polio diagnosis. This here is why Frank desires a mature, adult connection – love that regards him as an equal human being. Frank seeks Elsa’s love and company as she too loathes being reduced to a victim, an object of pity. Frank thereafter uses humour to joke of his wounds; “we Jews have to be on the lookout”. Elsa sees “a look in his eyes that she recognised”, thus their bond enables both characters to heal. London alludes that Frank requires love and recognition not from the perspective of a sorrowful onlooker, rather he longs to be recognised as a mature adult.

To learn more about using the right vocabulary, read 'Why using big words in VCE essays can make you look dumber'.

The conclusion: closing the deal

I firmly believe in short and sharp conclusions. Your body paragraphs should be thoroughly explaining your paragraphs, so don’t include any new information here. A few sentences is enough. Once again, write what feels natural, and what flows well.

Don’t drag out your conclusion. Short and concise is the key to finishing well.

Do write a sharp finish! Sentence starters such as, “Ultimately…” or “Thus, London…” are great.

Although trauma is often treated with love and compassion, London details different perspectives on this idea. Whilst Frank Gold requires a specific kind of recognition, Ida and Meyer seek validation in themselves and their relationship, whilst Sullivan is at ease with his fate and does not yearn sympathy from his father.

‍ To learn more about A+ essays, you should also have a read of 10 easy English points you're missing out on .

I'll finish off by giving you an exercise: brainstorm and write up a plan for the essay topic shown in the video below. I'd recommend you do this before watching Lisa's brainstorm and plan. That way, you can see which of your ideas overlapped, but also potentially see which ideas you may have missed out on. Good luck!

Text Response can be difficult because there are many different aspects of the text you need to discuss in an intellectual and sophisticated manner. The key points you need to include are stated in the VCAA Text Response criteria as shown below:

  • the ideas, characters and themes constructed by the author/director and presented in the selected text
  • the way the author/director uses structures, features and conventions to construct meaning
  • the ways in which authors/directors express or imply a point of view and values
  • the ways in which readers’ interpretations of text differ and why.

We have explored some of the different criterion points in past blog posts, but this time we’ll be focusing on number 3,

the ways in which authors/directors express or imply a point of view and values.

Views: How the author  sees  something

  • Perspective
  • Way of thinking
  • Observation

Values: How the author  thinks  about something

In VCE, simply exploring themes and character development is not enough to score yourself a higher-graded essay. This is where discussion on ‘views and values’ comes in. Essentially this criterion urges you to ask yourself, ‘what are the author’s beliefs or opinion on this particular idea/issue?’ All novels/films are written to represent their author’s views and values and, as a reader it is your job to interpret what you think the author is trying to say or what they’re trying to teach us. And it’s not as hard as it seems either. You’ve instinctively done this when reading other books or watching movies without even realising it. For example, you’ve probably walked out of the cinemas after thoroughly enjoying a film because the ideas explored sat well with you, ‘I’m glad in  Hunger Games  they’re taking action and rebelling against a totalitarian society’ or, ‘that was a great film because it gave insight on how women can be just as powerful as men!’ Therefore, it is possible in this case that the author of this series favours the disintegration of tyrannical societies and promotes female empowerment.

Views and values are also based on ideas and attitudes of when it was written and where it was set – this brings both social and cultural context into consideration as well. Issues commonly explored include gender roles, racial inequality, class hierarchy, and more. For example, Margaret Atwood’s  Cat’s Eye , is set during the 20th century and explores feminism through women’s roles during World War II while Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights  depicts the divide between social classes and challenges the strict Victorian values of how society condemns cross-class relationships, in particular between Catherine and Heathcliffe.

Questions to ask yourself when exploring views and values:

  • Is the author supporting or condeming/critising this idea?
  • Through which literary devices are they supporting or condemning/critising the idea?
  • Which characters represent society’s values? Which ones oppose them? Do we as readers favour those that represent or oppose society’s values?
  • Does the author encourage us to support the morals and opinions displayed by the characters or those supported in that setting/time?

Here’s a sample discussion on the author’s views and values:

‘…Dickens characterises Scrooge as being allegorically representative of the industrial age in which he lived. Scrooge describes the poor as ‘surplus population’, revealing his cruel nature as he would rather they die than having to donate money to them. Dickens critiques the industrial revolution whereby wealth lead to ignorance towards poor as the upperclassmen would easily dismiss underclassmen, feeling no responsibility to help them as they believed they were of no use to society. ‘ ( A Christmas Carol,  Charles Dickens)

Here’s a list of some sample essay prompts you may get in regards to exploring ‘views and values’:

  • ‘Cat’s Eye shows us that society’s expectations are damaging to women.’ To what extent do you agree? ( Cat’s Eye , Margaret Atwood)
  • ‘Bronte criticises the social class conventions of her time as she demonstrates that those in the lower classes can succeed.’ ( Wuthering Heights,  Emily Bronte)
  • ‘Social criticism plays a major role in A Christmas Carol.’ ( A Christmas Carol,  Charles Dickens)
  • ‘Hamid shows that it is difficult to find our identity in modern society, with the ever-changing social and politics surrounding us.’ ( The Reluctant Fundamentalist , Mohsin Hamid)
  • ‘In  Ransom  Malouf depicts war as the experience of grief, loss and destructive waste. The event of war lacks any heroic dimension. Discuss.’ ( Ransom,  David Malouf)

The Great Gatsby is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

Call it the greatest American novel or ultimate story of unrequited romance— The Great Gatsby is undoubtedly a stunning snapshot of one of the most American decades that America has ever seen. The 1920s saw significant economic growth after WWI, and what’s more American than material excess, wealth, and prosperity? The stock market was going off, businesses were booming, and people were having a great time.

Well, not everybody—and on the flipside, what’s more American than socio-economic inequality or the ever-quixotic American Dream?

In this blog, we’ll go through the novel in this context, examine some of its key themes, and also have a think about the critiques it raises about American society. We’ll also go through an essay prompt that ties some of these things together.

Life in the Roaring Twenties

mage result for great gatsby movie"

This snapshot from the 2013 film adaptation actually tells us a lot about the 1920s. On the one hand, social and cultural norms were shifting—men no longer sported beards, and women were dressing more androgynously and provocatively. On the other hand, the modern, American economy was emerging—people began buying costly consumer goods (like cars, appliances, telephones etc.) using credit rather than cash. This meant that average American families were able to get these things for the first time, while more prosperous families were able to live in extreme excess.

In Fitzgerald’s novel, the Buchanans are one such family. Tom and his wife Daisy have belonged to the 1% for generations, and the 1920s saw them cement their wealth and status. At the same time, the booming economy meant that others (like the narrator Nick) were relocating to cities in pursuit of wealth, and (like Gatsby) making significant financial inroads themselves. 

The Great Gatsby traces how the differences between these characters can be destructive even if they’re all wealthy. Add a drop of Gatsby’s unrequited love for Daisy, and you have a story that ultimately examines how far people go for romance, and what money simply can’t buy. 

The answer to that isn’t so obvious though. Yes, money can’t buy love, but it also can’t buy a lot of other things associated with the lifestyle and the values of established wealth. We’ll get into some of this now.

Wealth and class

Fitzgerald explores tensions between three socio-economic classes—the establishment, the ‘nouveau riche’ and the working class.

Tom and Daisy belong to the ‘old money’ establishment, where wealth is generational and inherited . This means they were born into already wealthy families, which affects their upbringing and ultimately defines them, from the way they speak (Tom’s “paternal contempt” and Daisy’s voice, “full of money”) to their major life decisions (including marriage, symbolised through the “string of pearls” he buys for her—which, fun fact, is estimated to be worth millions of dollars today). It also affects their values, as we’ll see in the following section.  For now, consider this image of their home (and those ponies on the left, which they also own), described as follows:

mage result for tom and daisy buchanan house

“The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door for [400 metres], jumping over sun-dials and brick walls and burning gardens—finally when it reached the house drifting up the side in bright vines as though from the momentum of its run.”

Nick Carraway also comes from a similar (though not as extravagant) background—his family had been rich by Midwestern standards for “three generations” before he came to New York.

Conversely, Gatsby belongs to the ‘ nouveau riche ’, or new money. Unlike the Buchanans, Gatsby was born into a poor family, only coming to wealth in the 1920s boom. Specifically, he inherited money from Dan Cody after running away from home at 17.

Although they are all rich, there are significant cultural differences between old and new money. Old money have their own culture of feigned politeness which Gatsby doesn’t quite get. When Tom and the Sloanes invite Nick and Gatsby to supper in chapter six, Gatsby naively accepts, to which Tom would respond behind his back, “Doesn’t he know [Mrs. Sloane] doesn’t want him?” Even though Gatsby is financially their equal, his newfound wealth can’t buy his way into their (nasty, horrible) lifestyle.

Finally, this is contrasted with the working class, particularly George and Myrtle Wilson who we meet in chapter two. They live in a grey “valley of ashes”, the detritus of a prosperous society whose wealth is limited to the 1%. Fitzgerald even calls it a “solemn dumping ground”, suggesting that life is precarious and difficult here. Consider what separates George—“blond, spiritless… and faintly handsome”—from Tom (hint: $$).

Myrtle is described differently, however—she is a “faintly stout” woman with “perceptible vitality”. This may be less of a description of her and more of a commentary on Tom’s sexuality, and what attracts him to her such that he cheats on Daisy with her. Still, Myrtle’s relative poverty is evident in her expressions of desire throughout their meeting—“I want to get one of those dogs,” she says, and Tom just hands her the money.

Ultimately, looking at the novel through the lens of class, we see a society where upward social mobility and making a living for yourself is possible, just not for everybody. Even when you get rich, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll suddenly, seamlessly integrate into the lives of old money. 

Morality and values

Added to this story of social stratification is a moral dimension, where Fitzgerald can be a little more critical. 

Firstly, old money is portrayed as shallow . Daisy’s marriage to Tom and the Sloanes’ insincerity are elements of this, but another good example is Gatsby’s party guests. Many aren’t actually invited—they invite themselves, and “they came and went without having met Gatsby at all.” Their vacuous relationship to Gatsby is exposed when he dies, and they completely abandon him. Klipspringer, “the boarder”, basically lived in Gatsby’s house, and even then he still wouldn’t come to the funeral, only calling up to get a “pair of shoes” back. 

The rich are also depicted as cruel and inconsiderate, insulated from repercussions by their wealth. Nick’s description of Tom’s “cruel body” is repeatedly realised, as he breaks Myrtle’s nose in chapter two and condescends Gatsby with “magnanimous scorn” in chapter seven. After Myrtle dies, Nick spots the Buchanans “conspiring” and describes them as “smash[ing] up things and creatures and then retreat[ing] back into their money or their vast carelessness”—he sees them as fundamentally selfish.

Gatsby is portrayed more sympathetically though, which may come from his humble upbringing and his desire to be liked. This is probably the key question of the novel—is he a hero, or a villain? The moral of the story, or a warning? Consumed by love, or corrupted by wealth?

I’m going to leave most of those for the next section, but I’ll finish here with one last snippet: Lucille, a guest at his parties, tears her dress and Gatsby immediately sends her a “new evening gown”. Weird flex, but at least he’s being selfless…

That said, a major part of Gatsby’s character is his dishonesty, which complicates his moral identity. 

For starters, he fabricates a new identity and deals in shady business just to reignite his five-year-old romance with Daisy. We see this through the emergence of Meyer Wolfsheim, with whom he has unclear business “gonnegtions”, and the resultant wealth he now enjoys. 

In chapter three, Owl Eyes describes Gatsby as a “regular Belasco”, comparing him to a film director who was well-known for the realism of his sets. This is a really lucid analysis of Gatsby, who is in many ways just like a film director constructing a whole fantasy world.

It’s also unclear if he loves Daisy for who she is, or just the idea of Daisy and the wealth she represents. Indeed, he doesn’t seem to treat her as a person, but more like something that he can pursue (like wealth). This is a good read, so I won’t really get into it here—just consider how much things have changed since Gatsby first met Daisy (like her marriage and her children), and how Gatsby ignores the way her life has changed in favour of his still, stationary memory of who she used to be.

Love, desire and hope

All of this makes it tricky to distil what the novel’s message actually is. 

Is it that Gatsby is a good person, especially cast against the corrupt old money?  

This analysis isn’t wrong, and it actually works well with a lot of textual evidence. Where Nick resents the Buchanans, he feels sympathy for Gatsby. He explicitly says, “they’re a rotten crowd…you’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.” Maybe love was an honourable goal compared to money, which ostensibly makes you “cruel” and “careless”. 

I wouldn’t say he was cruel, but this reading is complicated by how he can be careless, choosing not to care about Daisy’s agency, and letting his desires overtake these considerations. 

Is it that Gatsby and his desire for Daisy were corrupted by wealth despite his good intentions? 

There’s also evidence to suggest wealth corrupts—Nick describes it as “foul dust” that “preyed” on Gatsby, eroding his good character and leaving behind someone who resembles the vacuous elite. Although love might’ve been an honourable goal, it got diluted by money. 

Gatsby’s paradigm for understanding the world becomes driven by materialism, and he objectifies Daisy. He starts trying to buy something that he originally didn’t need to buy—Daisy’s love. She certainly didn’t fall in love with this man who owned a mansion and a closet full of “beautiful shirts.” Thus, Gatsby is a sympathetic product of a system that was always stacked against him (a poor boy from North Dakota). Capitalism, right?

Is it that capitalist America provides nothing for people to pursue except for wealth, and therefore little reason for people to feel hope?

Past the basics: structural economic tension and the doomed American Dream

Now we want to start thinking beyond the characters (e.g. if Gatsby is a good person or not) and also factor in their social, historical, political and economic context (e.g. if he was doomed to begin with by a society driven by money). This subheading does sound a bit much, but we’ll break it down here. 

A key part of this novel is the American Dream, the idea that America is a land of freedom and equal opportunity, that anyone can ‘make it’ if they truly try. Value is placed on upward social mobility (moving up from a working-class background) and economic prosperity (making $$), which defined much of the Roaring 20s…

…for some. 

For many others, there was significant tension between these lofty values and their lived reality of life on the ground. As much as society around them was prospering, they just couldn’t get a piece of the pie, and this is what makes it structural—as hard as George Wilson might work, he just can’t get himself out of the Valley of Ashes and into wealth. Indeed, you can’t achieve the Dream without cheating (as Gatsby did). 

So, there’s this tension, this irreconcilable gap between economic goals and actual means. Through this lens, the tragedy of The Great Gatsby multiplies. It’s no longer just about someone who can’t buy love with money—it’s about how nobody’s dreams are really attainable. Not everyone can get money, and money can only get you so far. Everyone is stuck, and the American Dream is basically just a myth. 

Thus, the novel could be interpreted as a takedown of capitalist America, which convinced people like Gatsby that the answer to everything was money, and he bolted after the “green light” allure of cold, hard cash only to find out that it wasn’t enough, that it wasn’t the answer in the end.  (.

Consider what kind of message that sends to people like the Wilsons—if money can’t actually buy happiness, what good is it really to chase it? And remember that Gatsby had to cheat to get rich in the first place. 

Is [the novel’s message] that capitalist America provides nothing for people to pursue except for wealth, and therefore little reason for people to feel hope?

You tell me.

Prompt: what does Fitzgerald suggest about social stratification in the 1920s?

Whenever you get a new essay topic, you can use LSG’s THINK and EXECUTE strategy , a technique to help you write better VCE essays. If you’re unfamiliar with this strategy, then check it out in How To Write A Killer Text Response .

Let’s try applying this to a prompt. I’ll italicise the key points that have been brought up throughout this post. 

Firstly, social stratification clearly divided society along economic lines . This could be paragraph one, exploring how class separated the Buchanans and Wilsons of the world, and how their lifestyles were so completely different even though they all lived in the prosperity of the Roaring 20s . George Wilson was “worn-out” from work, but he still couldn’t generate upward social mobility for his family, stuck in the Valley of Ashes. Conversely, Tom Buchanan is born into a rich family with his beach-facing mansion and polo ponies . Colour is an important symbol here—the Valley is grey, while East Egg is filled with colour (a green light here, a “blue coupe” there…).

The next paragraph might look at the cultural dimension , exploring how you just can’t buy a way of life. This might involve analysing Gatsby’s wealth as deluding him into thinking he can “repeat the past” by buying into the life(style) of old money . This is where Fitzgerald disillusions us about the American Dream —he presents a reality where it isn’t possible for anyone to ‘make it’, where the Buchanans still treat you with scorn even if you’re just as wealthy. Gatsby’s dishonesty is ultimately a shallow one—try as he might, he just cannot fit in and win Daisy back.

Finally, we should consider the moral dimension —even though the wealthier socioeconomic classes enjoyed more lavish, luxurious lifestyles, Fitzgerald also argued that they were the most morally bankrupt. Money corrupted the wealthy to the point where they simply did not care about the lives of the poor, as seen in the Buchanans’ response to Myrtle’s death. Even Gatsby had to compromise his integrity and deal in shady business in order to get rich—he isn’t perfect either. Social stratification may look ostentatious and shiny on the outside, but the rich are actually portrayed as shallow and corrupt. 

A good essay on this novel will typically combine some of these dimensions and build a multilayered analysis. Stratification, love, wealth, morality—all of these big ideas can be broken down in terms of social, economic, cultural circumstances, so make sure to consider all angles when you write. 

Have a go at these prompts!

1. Nick is biased in his assessment of Gatsby—both of them are no better than the corrupt, wealthy Buchanans. Do you agree?

2. In The Great Gatsby , money is a stronger motivating factor than love. Do you agree?

3. Daisy Buchanan is more innocent than guilty—explore this statement with reference to at least 2 other characters. 

4. What does Fitzgerald say about happiness in The Great Gatsby ?

5. Is money the true antagonist of The Great Gatsby ?

6. The women of The Great Gatsby are all victims of a patriarchal society. To what extent do you agree? (Hint: are they all equally victimised?)

Challenge: According to Fitzgerald, what really lays underneath the façade of the Roaring 20s? Make reference to at least 2 symbols in The Great Gatsby . (Hint: façade = “an outward appearance that conceals a less pleasant reality” – think about things like colours, clothes, buildings etc.)

The Importance of the Introduction

Whether you revel in the ideas and intricacies of poetry or could not think of anything more monotonous to read, grab a tea (or coffee if it’s one of those nights), your favourite late-night snack, and prepare to be amazed by just how simple it is to absolutely NAIL a poetry essay.

Don’t worry, I know that same overwhelming feeling when poetry can seem as if it’s not even in English, but I can ensure you, learning how to write a poetry essay is like learning to ride a bike…. Once you wrap your head around it you’ll be cruising!

To make these tips even more practical, we’ll be focusing on John Donne’s poetry in relation to the topic below: ‍

‘Donne’s poetry explores the many aspects of human experience.’ Discuss.

‍ 1. Start off with a bang!

I’m sure you’ve heard it before… your introduction sets the tone for your essay and this could not be more true. A shallow introduction is like missing the start of your running race, or even worse arriving at a party just before it ends! You’ll just have so much catching up to do! Without being overly hyperbolic, here are a four essential tips that will ensure your assessor sees you as a high-scoring student right from your first sentence.

- Answer the question in your first sentence (even if it is in a broad manner) and always link back to the essay topic – this will show the assessor that you are answering the question given rather than presenting them with a sneaky memorised essay!

- Utilise the right terminology when outlining the type of poet and era they wrote in (i.e. metaphysical poet, Renaissance era, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth)

‍ - Outline the main poetic techniques for which the poet is known for (i.e. playful wit, rich imagery, language, challenging intellectual argument) as well as the ideas and values they endorse (i.e. elevation of reciprocal love, belief in the resurrection of Christ, celebration of eternal life)

- Wow your assessor with unique vocab (i.e. illuminate, emanate, meditate)

And here’s a sample introduction to help you even more:

John Donne’s anthology, “Selected Poetry” illuminates the human condition and thus provides much commentary on life and death. A metaphysical poet of the Renaissance era, Donne combines a playful wit, rich imagery, and perhaps most importantly language, to challenge intellectual argument and celebrate various aspects of sexual desire, mutuality and faith. Immersed in the Christian traditions of his time, Donne’s exploration of Death emanates from the Elizabethan acute awareness of the brevity and vanity of human life; however, with his sensual elevation of reciprocal love and his deep spiritual belief in the resurrection of Christ, Donne meditates upon his belief and celebration of eternal life.

2. Strong topic sentences are Crucial (with a capital C)

Time and time again students fall into one of two traps. They either try to start each paragraph with a lengthy (and often beautiful) phrase trying to encapsulate every idea they plan to introduce in the paragraph. Or on other occasions, they have no introductory sentence and instead launch straight into their poetry analysis. Your assessor may be blown away with your A+ worthy introduction and then reach this weak opening to your paragraph and have to reconsider! Your topic sentence is the frame for the whole paragraph so please, keep it clear, succinct, and relevant to the essay question.

Here are three ‘DOs’ and ‘DON’Ts’ to consider when crafting one of the most important sentences of your essay (again, sorry about the drama!)

- DON’T mention the poem you will use as evidence in your topic sentence

- DO answer and link directly to the essay topic

- DO use linking words to link the ideas in different paragraphs

And here are three STRONG topic sentences for each paragraph of this essay (note how I always link back to the topic of human experiences and link ideas between paragraphs)

- Rewriting the conventional trope, Donne’s oeuvre explores the joy of erotic love and ones’ lustful desire to engage in these sexual experiences.

- While much of Donne’s oeuvre comments on the pleasure of carnal experiences, his more harmonious poems reveal the beauty of relationships in which one can experience a deep sense of mutuality and stability.

- Silhouetted against the backdrop of the Elizabethan reign, Donne’s more metaphysical poems demonstrate the struggle of the process of dying and individual corruption, and the manner in which it leads to the acquirement of God’s love and grace.

3. Organise paragraphs by IDEAS

What makes a poetry essay so unique is that your paragraphs are based on broad ideas rather than the motifs and behaviours of characters in novels. This means that when planning your essay you must ensure that each paragraph has only one idea and that each paragraph is based on a different idea. From there you can work out which poems best represent each concept to work out which poems you will use for each paragraph. This is why I love poetry essays as planning for them is so easy! All you have to do is think of three or four different ideas for the essay topic and then find your textual evidence by working out which poems best reflect these ideas…. Simple! Right?

Here are the three ideas that I plan to discuss in each of my paragraphs of this essay as well as the poems I would use:

- Sexual/physical human experiences

- ‘Elegy 19: To His Mistress Going to Bed’ & ‘The Flea’

- Mutuality and reciprocity as an experience/element of spiritual love

- ‘A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning’

- The innately human experience of dying and being embraced by God in heaven

- ‘Hymn to God My God in My Sickness’ ‍

4. Analyse, not summarise

If there was one thing that was playing in my head over and over while writing a poetry essay it was ‘analyse, not summarise’. It is so easy to fall into the trap of simply summarising the poetic techniques and language of the different poems rather than analysing their meaning and linking this directly to the essay question. Even if you have the best plan and ideas going for you, if an assessor notices you going into summary mode they’ll assume you’re just rewriting a memorised essay rather then answering the exact essay question given…. DISASTROUS! To prevent this utter catastrophe, I urge you to please, link to and answer the specific essay topic EVERYTIME you introduce a new poetic technique/piece of evidence. Verbs such as demonstrates, elucidates, illustrates, exemplifies, illuminates and augments are ‘must haves’ in your poetry tool-box as they will ensure that you are analysing not summarising.

Here is a sample paragraph for you to consider (notice how I always link back to the idea of mutual/reciprocal love and experiences every time I introduce a new poetic technique or quote)

While much of Donne’s oeuvre comments on the pleasure of carnal experiences, his more harmonious poems reveal the beauty of relationships in which one can experience a deep sense of mutuality and stability. The poem, ‘’A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning’’ explores the sense of security and harmony which spiritual love and experiences permit. Adopting a hush, reverent tone manifested by the use of sibilance, through the enjambment of the phrase ‘’Dull sublunary lovers love, / (Whose soul is sense) cannot admit / Absence’’, Donne elevates mutual love to a higher plane, one that transcends the lines of poetry. When accompanied by the stability of the ABAB rhyme scheme that works to echo the couple’s settled love, this presents the experience of reciprocity and mutuality of love to be higher than the dull and earthbound nature of love that is solely physical. Hence, Donne reveals the bliss that mutual love permits mankind, given it eclipses the desire for any form of physicality. Further elucidating the strength of mutual love, Donne illuminates how when couples are separated it is ‘’not yet a breach, but an expansion’’, thus celebrating the manner in which deep, reciprocal love not only eclipses the divisions of the clock but how it expands ‘’like gold to airy thinness beat’’ when separated. By connoting spiritual love to the pure and malleable nature of gold, this simile characterizes mutual love to be the prime of human experiences and relationships. Intertwining the elegant conceit of a compass to represent the love that connects the speaker and his mistress, Donne garners the notion that no matter how far ‘’one doth roam’’ the intellectual bond between the couple will remain ‘’firm’’ and enable the pair to overcome any form of physical separation. Hence, Donne illuminates  the complex and impermeable bond that this serene form of human experience can foster.

‍ 5. Vocab and metalanguage are the easiest ways to SHINE

To say it plainly, writing with unique and refreshing vocabulary is enough to send your grade SOARING. It will not only render your ideas and discussion ever more complex, but has the power to enlighten and stimulate your assessor (and this is something we all want to do… right?). Utilising the correct poetic metalanguage every time you introduce a new quote or line of poetry will ensure that your analysis remains both specific and detailed. As seen in the paragraph above, discussing the poetic techniques provided me with another form of evidence (rather than just the quotes from the poem) to elucidate how these different forms of human experience are illustrated in each of Donne’s poems.

To assist you further, here is some metalanguage for the poetic techniques and structures that frequent John Donne’s poetry:

- Sibilance, alliteration, imagery, paradox, conceit, metaphor, simile, personification, rhyme structure, tone, volta, enjambment, metre (i.e. iambic pentameter, trochaic tetrameter), monosyllabic phrasing

- Stanza, verse, quatrain, cinquain

6. Finish with a jaw-dropping conclusion

A mediocre conclusion is like leaving your assessor with an unpleasant aftertaste that unfortunately, will not go away. So please, finally give your conclusion the attention it deserves and follow these five tips to ensure you leave your assessor waiting for that mic to drop!

- Pan out to the broad, abstract ideas that the poet wrestled with

- Discuss the aspects of the poet that set them apart from other poets at the time (i.e. for John Donne that is his intellectual imagery, arresting voice, wit, fusion of passion and logic and the manner in which he challenged intellectual argument and strongly held societal conventions)

- Short and sweet not long and wordy!

- Reinforce the period and society in which the poet wrote

- You can include a secondary quote if you want, however only if it relevant to the essay topic and ideas you discussed

Here is a sample conclusion to assist you:

Railing against the societal value of religion prominent during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the originality of Donne’s ideas about love, death and God along with his strikingly intellectual imagery and rich language incite and interest his more religious readership of the joys of sexual, mutual and religious experiences. The poet and playwright Ben Jonson once wrote that John Donne ‘’was the first poet in the world in some things.’’ Hence, it is through his witty and authentic form of expression that Donne allows us to reflect on and celebrate precisely what it means to be human.

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Frankenstein Mary Shelley

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Genesis states, "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him". Humans, therefore, were created as a likeness to God. <I>Frankenstein</i> describes a similar act of creation in that in the novel, too, the...

Frankenstein's Discovery Theoderek Wayne

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Prometheus and Frankenstein: Use of the Myth Steve Kendon

In what ways and for what ends does Mary Shelley utilise the myth of Prometheus in her novel, Frankenstein?

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Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein curdles readers' blood not merely with dreary nights and gruesome murders, but through a tale of man's most morbid undertakings. While the monster itself constitutes the most concretely catastrophic effect of...

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creative frankenstein essay titles


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Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus

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How does the creature’s revenge against Frankenstein ultimately lead to Frankenstein’s becoming like the creature?

Discuss the role of nature in the novel. What causes alienation from nature, and what is the result? How does one reconnect with nature? How does the grandeur of nature simultaneously comfort and alienate one further?

What is the role of women in the novel? Consider Elizabeth, Justine, Safie, Agatha, and even Robert’s sister Margaret. How does their passivity demonstrate 19th-century ideals for women?

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How to Title an Essay: Guide with Creative Examples [2024]

It’s not a secret that the reader notices an essay title first. No catchy hook or colorful examples attract more attention from a quick glance. Composing a creative title for your essay is essential if you strive to succeed, as it:

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  • causes the first impression;
  • reflects the tone, topic, and the purpose of the writing;
  • indicates the author’s credibility.

Thus, how you name your paper is of the same importance as the paper itself.

Good titles for essays should be concise and eye-catching. Nobody likes long and cumbersome headings that do not reflect the point of the paper. While tilting your work, pay enough attention to the word choice. How do you come up with a good title? Use your common sense and imagination. For more details, our experts prepared the sections below.

  • 💭 What Are Good Titles?

✔️ Finish Your Essay

🤲 sum it up, 🏷️ define the keywords, 🖊️ follow the format, ⚖️ change words, ✨ 23 creative title examples, 💭 what are good titles for essays.

A title is a critical part of any academic paper, so you must understand what to include and how to choose it. Here are some features that your heading has to show.

👩‍🏫 How to Title an Essay?

Are you struggling with formulating a heading? Yes, this task is quite challenging. But let’s figure out the basic rules.

The title of any paper should reveal:

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  • What the paper is about. Cover the general idea of your work in the title.
  • Why the reader might be interested in it. Prove the relevance of your paper to the audience.
  • The context of the issue. A good title previews the full picture of the topic regarding its “when” and “where.”

To nail your essay heading, follow the guide below. Check our title examples if you are not sure about your abilities. You can also try and use a creative title page generator for a faster result.

Before writing a title to your essay, you should finish your paper. This way, you’ll be able to reread and get the whole idea to incorporate it into your title.

Moreover, you’ll see how long a title should be for an essay after finishing the entire piece. But remember: not too lengthy and not too wordy.

The essay title depends on the type of essay:

  • Narrative essay . For this kind of essay, the title should not provide any detailed info or reflect your position. It should only present the general idea of your piece of writing. For example, the narrative essay topic may look like this: My Thorny Pass to Success.
  • Argumentative essay . The title for an argumentative essay should clearly state the point you are going to support. For instance, you can choose the following heading: Social Media Has a Negative Effect on Teenagers.
  • Cause and effect essay . For this kind of essay writing, the title should be clear and provide a background of the issue. The reader should immediately understand what the problem is, what its cause is, what an effect is. Usually, writers use the words “due to” or “because” to highlight the cause-effect correlation. Look at the example: Because Coronavirus Attacks, People Start to Explore New Ways of Remote Working.
  • Persuasive essay . A persuasive essay should have a dynamic title that immediately calls to action. Moreover, the topic has to be relevant to the audience. For example, for students, the following title would be compelling: Sleep 7-8 Hours a Day: the Lack of Sleep Affects Academic Performance.

The most straightforward way of creating an essay title is summarizing. Sum up the whole paper in one sentence, focus on the central idea, cut the details, and use it as the title.

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For this purpose, you can take your thesis statement and restate it, adding creativity. Or use the best summary generator you can find to simplify the task. But don’t forget to make sure that it sounds catchy and explains why the potential reader should check your essay.

For example:

Let’s imagine, you are writing about Artificial Intelligence, and your thesis statement sounds like this:

The purpose of this paper is to explore the advantages of Artificial intelligence’s influence on society and to discover possible outcomes.

Then, the title may be the following:

Artificial Intelligence – the Next Step into the Bright Future.

Every essay includes the key concepts that you explored and the terms that you used for this. You should find essential words and phrases and incorporate them into the essay titles. The keywords will focus the reader’s attention on the central topic of your paper.

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You are writing about the negative impact of deforestation on the environment. These are your keywords, as they are the most vital ones. Thus, the title would sound like this:

Protecting the Environment: Deforestation Should be Stopped.

Every educational institution requires to format the academic papers for a particular writing style. Among a wide diversity of citation styles , the most popular ones are APA and MLA formats.

There are a lot of specific requirements regarding the essay title formats. So, let’s investigate these styles.

The APA style requires a title page at the beginning of your research paper. Here, where the readers first meet the heading. The title page should include the following:

  • The paper’s title. Centered, bold, capitalized, 3-4 lines below the top margin.
  • The author’s name (first name, middle initial, last name). Centered, not bold, two lines below the title.
  • The author’s affiliations. Centered, not bold, immediately after the name.
  • Number and name of the course.
  • The instructor’s name and title.
  • Page number in the top right corner.

See the example of an APA title page below:

The title page in APA format.

The MLA style does not require a separate title page. Still, some formatting rules are to be strictly followed.

  • The MLA paper should start one inch from the top of the document, flush left.
  • Write the author’s name, then the instructor’s name, the course number, and the date. Each item should be on a separate double-spaced line.
  • Add the title of your paper. It should be centered and capitalized.
  • Do not put quotation marks, underline, italicize, or boldface your MLA title. Just make it centered and capitalized.

Here is an example of an MLA title formatting.

The essay title in MLA format.

Before choosing a title, figure out is the tone of your essay. Is it more formal or friendly? Do you write it for a college or a personal blog?

Change the wording to make your title sound more catchy and positive. Or serious and official. You can try something new and come up with a creative title for your essay.

You need to write an article about the benefits of healthy eating for university and your online blog. For an academic essay, your title would probably look like this:

A Well-Balanced Diet Is a Key to a Healthy Organism.

In contrast, for a blog article, it would be better to write something like this:

An Apple a Day Keeps a Doctor Away: How Healthy Eating Helps us Be Fit.

Do you see the magic? One topic, different wording, and completely diverse tones as a result. So, try until you reach the most appropriate version of the title for your piece of writing.

Are you still struggling with the selection of a heading for your paper? Take a look at our creative essay title examples! Inspire, then turn on your imagination, and create a personal title.

Argumentative Essay Titles.

  • Intercultural Community at University: Prosperity or Constant Encounters.
  • Leadership Nature: a Congenital or an Acquired Feature?
  • Do Energetic Drinks Help or Harm the Organisms?
  • Why Should Sex Education Be Taught at Schools?
  • Should the Law Punish Bullying?
  • Guns Legalization is an Unsafe Way of Self-Protection.

Narrative Essay Titles.

  • Lady Macbeth – One of the Most Frightening Female Characters of Shakespeare.
  • The Art of Overcoming Failures: How to Deal with the Downfalls Easily.
  • Steve Jobs: from a Poor Student to a Multi-billionaire.
  • The Most Influential Person in my Life.
  • Three Biggest Events of my Life that Shaped me as a Person.
  • What Does it Mean to be a Loving Kid for your Parents?
  • What Does “Family” Mean to You?

Persuasive Essay Titles.

  • Never Judge the Person by their Appearance.
  • Music Should be Implemented as a Medical Treatment.
  • In the Battle Between E-Books and Paper Books, the Last Ones Should Win.
  • Remote Learning Cannot Replace Face-to-Face Classes.
  • Technology Addiction is a Threat to the Future Generation.
  • Murderers Should be Sentenced to Death Penalty.

Cause and Effect Essay Titles.

  • Because of Traveling Around the World, People Expand their Horizons.
  • Due to Massive Immigration, Countries Lose their Cultural Identity.
  • Home Abuse as a Cause of Depression and Suicide as its Effect.
  • Drug Addiction: a Cause for Psychological Disorder or an Effect?

Thank you for reading our article. Now you get how to come up with a good title for an essay. Don’t forget to share our page with your friends.

  • Writing an Effective Title: Quick Tips, Student Support Writing Center, University of Minnesota
  • Choosing a Title, Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: Research Guides at University of Southern California
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Essays on Frankenstein. Free Examples of Research Paper Topics, Titles GradesFixer

Frankenstein is a diverse novel that confronts the reader with many different ideas and themes. Critics have described the text in many different, depending on collection reading for the book. These include as a political allegory, an observation of human accountability, feminism, social prejudices and alienation, and even a narrative of the nature of human life itself. Some of these themes may be in frankenstein due to the influence of Shelley's parents: Mary Wollstonecraft and William Topics, both very influential…. Victor Frankenstein and Macbeth both demonstrate that acquisition of for is dangerous and to seek it for the purpose of power leads to destruction of life. By examining knowledge topics relation to essay characters of Victor, Walton and the Creature it can be seen that the theme of knowledge is used a warning against the Enlightenment and a personification of for social title of the time.

The Whole Collection of Frankenstein Essay Topics

Young frankenstein () — art of the title.

Frankenstein, in his Faustian quest…. A newborn has no knowledge, no concerns or worries and it only seeks to fulfill its main necessities. Surrounded by the outside world one lives through many experiences where knowledge is accepted. Encountering other human beings reflects upon one's perception and brings about ones self decisions. The desire of extensive knowledge is first seen through…. Throughout Frankenstein it is evident that Victor and Robert express their thirst for knowledge, which essays leads to destruction.

Through analyzing Frankenstein it is possible to find many examples that illustrate the fact that wanting to have more knowledge can be titles dangerous. Firstly, as Victor is creating life frankenstein is frankenstein to create a humanoid monster, unfortunately he is appalled by his creation and becomes very ill. Afterwards, when Essays is completing the female companion for his original…. Thomas Jefferson. In Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, the theme of the sublime is featured throughout the text.

It is seen in the use of knowledge, imagination, and solitariness which is the protagonist's primary source professional resume format of it power. This perpetuates their quest for glory, revenge, and what results in essay prompts racism own self-destruction and dehumanization. Ultimately, the final cause being irreversible harm….

Frankenstein is a book written by Mary Shelley inthat is revolved around a under privileged scientist named Victor Frankenstein who manages to create a topics human-like being. The story was written when Shelley was in her late teen age years, titles was published when she was just twenty years old. Frankenstein is filled with topics different elements of the Gothic and Romantic Movement of British literature, and is considered to be one of the earliest forms of science fiction. How Dangerous is the Acquirement of Knowledge? The novel frankenstein been the topics for essay motion picture movies along with frankenstein English class discussions.

Within the novel Shelly shares the stories of two men from very different worlds. The reader is introduced to Robert Walton, the main narrator…. Dangerous Knowledge The pursuit of forbidden knowledge is the essay and downfall of man's quest to understand the unknown. In the Bible, God warns man that knowledge brings more regret than it does value: Throughout the frankenstein of mankind, man has for faced with the temptation to reach the level of God. The Tower of Babel is the first attempt by man to victor as powerful as God when man tries to build a tower that reaches….

Dangerous Knowledge - Frankenstein Essay examples. Chakari Monsanto Modern society provides humans with a titles variety of sources on how to gain knowledge, both good and evil. The essay for forbidden knowledge beyond what man can essentially handle, topics a tragic life. The protagonist in the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley exemplifies the behavior of the ideal man grasping for titles knowledge than he can truly bare; in turn for knowledge titles tarnished. Shelley eludes to the Greek myth of Prometheus allowing the reader to delve deeper into the general theme that those essay pursue an insatiable desire for knowledge, if not tamed, …show more content…. When people received the fire they were amazed by its benefit — essay made preparing food faster, brought warmth in a cold area, and illuminated the darkness.

The attributes of fire made survival easier for titles people until the usage of it became uncontrollable. They found out that fire, when left unkempt, spreads and destroys everything in its path.

As time went on people recognized the great power of fire titles harassed the to do evil instead titles good. People used fire to start wars, demolish forests, and burn others alive. The fact that everyone essay how to start a fire but could not stop it, proves that it should have been left titles the immortals.

Zeus punished Prometheus for giving fire to the people for tying him to a rock for allowed a essay to eat out his liver everyday for the rest frankenstein his life. Victor Frankenstein, also known as the modern Prometheus according to Shelley, holds a similar yet different story and fate as Prometheus. Show More. Frankenstein - Ideologies of Fire as Knowledge and Creation Topics 4 Pages Frankenstein is a diverse novel that confronts the reader with many different ideas and themes. Victor Frankenstein Thirst for Knowledge Words 6 Pages A newborn has no knowledge, no concerns or worries and it only seeks to fulfill its main necessities. Dangerous Knowledge in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Words 5 Pages Frankenstein is a persuasive written by Mary For inthat is revolved around a under privileged scientist named Victor Frankenstein who frankenstein to create a unnatural human-like being.

Dangerous Knowledge Essay Words 11 Pages Dangerous Knowledge The pursuit of forbidden knowledge is the impetus and frankenstein of man's titles to understand the unknown. Renaissance Art P7 topics Essay. Open Document.

The Novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley: Critical Analysis Essay

Introduction, walter scotts critique, naomi hetherington’s critique, works cited.

Frankenstein’s work has been criticized by many scholars who have tried to come up with other ideas concerning the Novel. Her book contains critical information which cannot be underestimated in the current contemporary society. Her use of hypothetical questions and fiction in the setup of her ideas can be utilized in recent literary works. This essay discusses two critiques by Professor Naomi Hetherington’s and Walter Scott’s analysis of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Walter Scott, who was a British national, wrote the Romantic Circle Critiques. He was born in Edinburg and attended Edinburgh High School. He further went to Edinburgh University to study arts and law (Romantic Circles). He was involved in the Romantic Movement and participated in various occupational Walter was conducted, including poetry, historical novelist, clerk session, and advocate. His first poem was entitled Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. Additionally, he published novels like Waverley, Guy Mannering, and Tales of My Land.

Mary’s novel is featured in the romantic fiction of nature which depicts family values and fundamental laws of nature. The author aims to explain the romantic nature by explaining unusual settings and nature components (Romantic Circles). The perceptions which drove Frankenstein, such as the change of species Belle Assemblee are explained. Furthermore, the difficulties and challenges Frankenstein and encounters with demons are illustrated. The changes that occur from life to death and death to stamina are explained. Themes of creation and revenge run across the novel in the urge of Frankenstein to avenge his originator for all the miseries.

Scoots’ analysis goes in hand with the settings and perceptions of Mary’s fiction. The element of imaginary setting and magical narration is the primary focus of the author’s critique. They bring about a better understanding of this novel in a relevant manner. The author supports Mary’s work and critically analysis the novel with matching arguments in a necessary way. He uses romance fiction and the element of vengeance and anger due to demons’ control which generally gives a good narration based on historical events. I agree with the critique since it uses Frankenstein’s ideas and themes which support his arguments. The similarity in the content and the settings are valid and authentic.

Another critique is from Professor Naomi Hetherington, who has a Ph.D. from Southampton University. She has been a teacher in Birkbeck for almost five years at the University of London, where she earned a teaching and scholarship award for her incredible contribution to literature. Naomi’s thesis illustrates that Mary wanted to use myths through fiction, the meaning of being a human being in a universe full of troubles (Hetherington 42). Additionally, she suggests that Mary revised her work to deviate from Lawrence and compare it with Christian Orthodox etiology.

Naomi’s thesis statement is relevant since it illustrates a step-by-step analysis of the novel. The first section of her research relates Frankenstein to Milton’s Paradise Lost and Prometheus legend. On the other hand, the last section describes the book to the religious nature of Mary after her husband dies (Ozherelyev 63). The Miltonic illustrations seen throughout the novel are used to emphasize the origin of evil in the world. The presence of a deity who creates human beings is seen. I agree with Naomi’s Critique since it relates outside resources such as Frankenstein to Milton Paradise Lost and Prometheus legend to support her arguments. She further identifies other themes related to the main content making these resources valid.

In summary, the two critiques by Naomi and Scoot give a better review of the novel provide literature and comprehension of the past event. Factors that contribute to environmental changes are discussed. The themes of creation and vengeance are illustrated to give a clear perspective of Mary’s main aim in writing her book. After the death of her husband, Mary becomes religious and seeks Christian Orthodox etiology ideas. The existence of a deity who creates human beings indicates the origin of life, and its end is seen by death.

Hetherington, Naomi. “Creator And Created in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein .”Taylor & Francis , vol, 12, no. 5, 2022, pp. 32-85

Ozherelyev, Konstantin A. “Philosophical Contexts in Mary Shelley’S Novel «Frankenstein.» Herald Of Omsk University , vol 25, no. 3, 2020, pp. 61-66. Dostoevsky Omsk State University ,

Romantic Circles. “Belle Assemblee Review of Frankenstein. March 1818, Romantic Circles”. Romantic-Circles.Org , 2022, Web.

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    Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: Divine and Satanic. Hetherington adequately concludes that Victor Frankenstein is a symbol of God through the creation of a new being, and the monster is a symbol of Satan due to his deeds. Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" and H.G. Wells's "The Island of Dr. Moreau".

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    Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley was first published in 1818. John Wilson Croker's review, published right after the novel was released, was negative. "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley and "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding. "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley and "Lord of the flies" by William Golding share ...

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    4. Victor attributes his tragic fate to his relentless search for knowledge. Do you think that this is the true cause of his suffering? In what ways does the novel present knowledge as dangerous and destructive? 5. Examine the role of suspense and foreshadowing throughout the novel.

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    📝 Frankenstein: Essay Samples List. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, is famous all over the world.School and college students are often asked to write about the novel. On this page, you can find a collection of free sample essays and research papers that focus on Frankenstein.Literary analysis, compare & contrast essays, papers devoted to Frankenstein's characters & themes, and much more.

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    Here, you might write a persuasive essay or a more formal argumentative essay about fate and destiny in Frankenstein. 6. Forgiveness and compassion. Everyone seems to be seeking revenge in this novel. But if you look closely, the theme of forgiveness and compassion also runs through the storyline.

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    The novel "Frankenstein" written by author Mary Shelly is familiar to people across the world because of its engaging and romantic plot. The character of the monster is one of the most famous in the world, but this masterpiece is not only known by its mysterious entourage, but also by the great and of interesting plot and characters. So, in the essays on Frankenstein, it is better to ...

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    Suggested Essay Topics. 1. Why do you think Robert Walton is so eager to visit such a hostile environment? 2. Discuss the similarities between Robert Walton and Victor Frankenstein, the man he ...

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    1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: Critical Essay by Andrew Eliot Binder. "Shelley immediately likens Frankenstein to his own creation through the word "wretched," and, in doing so, present an irony. Frankenstein deserts his "wretched" creation, who then becomes hungry and harassed by society. But when the roles are reversed, and ...

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    Essay Topics. 1. How does the creature's revenge against Frankenstein ultimately lead to Frankenstein's becoming like the creature? 2. Discuss the role of nature in the novel. What causes alienation from nature, and what is the result? How does one reconnect with nature? How does the grandeur of nature simultaneously comfort and alienate ...

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    Frankenstein. Although there are many different and related themes in Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, one of the most important themes is that of revenge. The relationship between the title doctor and his creation is a complex one. Dr. Frankenstein created the creature, and so he is like his father.

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    Essays on Frankenstein. Free Examples of Research Paper Topics, Titles GradesFixer. Frankenstein is a diverse novel that confronts the reader with many different ideas and themes. Critics have described the text in many different, depending on collection reading for the book. These include as a political allegory, an observation of human ...

  18. The Novel "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley: Critical Analysis Essay

    Mary's novel is featured in the romantic fiction of nature which depicts family values and fundamental laws of nature. The author aims to explain the romantic nature by explaining unusual settings and nature components (Romantic Circles). The perceptions which drove Frankenstein, such as the change of species Belle Assemblee are explained.

  19. Creative Frankenstein Essay Titles

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