This classic novel by Mary Shelley, first published anonymously in 1818, tells the story of Dr. Victor Frankenstein, who alienates his family by following his obsession with animating a man made of corpses, creating artificial life for the first time. But he is horrified by his creation, and the monster, lonely and miserable, wanders the earth, rejected by everyone. He develops anger toward his creator and kills Victor’s brother, and then Victor’s wife, on their wedding day. Victor then chases the monster all over the world, trying to kill him, and dies in the process.
(Self-knowledge and Growth) Is self-knowledge the result of adversity?
Yes; Dr. Frankenstein can only understand the horror of artificially creating life (or “playing God”) after multiple people are killed.
(Success vs. Failure) Can success to be disastrous?
Yes; in the first part of the book, Dr. Frankenstein sacrifices everything to achieve his goal of bringing his monster to life. But as soon as he does, his life becomes more and more miserable until he finally dies in the Arctic.
(Individual vs. Society/Authority) Is it better to decide one’s own ideas of right and wrong or follow the crowd?
Follow the crowd; Dr. Frankenstein ignores everyone’s warnings that his obsession is dangerous. His creation of the monster is a direct result of his deciding for himself what is right and wrong, because his obsession clouds his judgment.
This short novel written by George Orwell in 1945 is a parable (a short story used to illustrate a lesson) about the Russian Revolution. It describes a farm’s animals banding together to overthrow the farmer Mr. Jones who exploits their work and products (milk, eggs, etc.) so they can take control of the farm themselves. However, the pigs (under the leadership of Snowball and Napoleon) immediately begin scheming to control the farm themselves, and ultimately take advantage of the other animals in the same way the farmer did.
(Individual vs. Society/Authority) Should people pay more attention to the opinions of people who are older and more experienced?
Yes; in Animal Farm, the only animal who suspects the pigs’ deception is Benjamin –a donkey, one of the oldest, wisest animal on the farm. When Napoleon sends for a van to take Boxer, the loyal, hard working and respectable workhorse, to a surgeon, only Benjamin notices pigs’ real intention: selling the horse for money to buy whisky for the pigs.
(Morality) Is it best to always suspect that others may have ulterior motives?
Yes; the animals in Animal Farm would have been better off if they had suspected that the pigs were planning to exploit them.
(Success vs. Failure) Are important discoveries the result of focusing on one subject?
No; in Animal Farm, the success of the animals in running the farm depends on their ability to teach themselves how to read, do math, build structures, and harness electricity, among other skills.