The thought of writing the AP English Lit essay can be a daunting one, but if you know the texts and understand the themes, there is nothing to worry about.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein deals with many themes that we will go over in this article, and we will explore how the themes and issues can be adapted to suit the question. You’ll often find that the themes in text run parallel with each other, so it can be easier to understand the novel when all the themes run into each other.
We will look at the AP English Literature free response questions from previous years, so you can get a better idea of how to answer them and any future free response questions.
Frankenstein AP English Lit Essay Themes
There are a number of themes in Frankenstein that can be applied to your AP English Lit essay. Nature, knowledge, technology, science, supernatural, secrecy, and the fear of the unknown are all evident in the novel.
Some of the themes run parallel with each other and help to develop other issues in the text, such as science and technology being directly related to knowledge. With the Industrial Revolution sparking new technological developments, these themes of science, technology and knowledge go hand-in-hand.
Frankenstein is a Romantic Gothic novel and during the Romantic period, nature played an important role in art and literature. Natural surroundings are significant to Frankenstein and can be seen through Shelley’s descriptions of the landscape. Shelley also uses nature as devices to create messages, for example, when the monster writes messages for Frankenstein on the trees and stones.
The theme of the supernatural runs throughout the novel, which was significant in Gothic and Romantic literature. Writers and artists were making use of their imaginations, giving light to new ways of looking at the world, and this can be seen through the character of the monster.
Secrecy is an important theme in the novel, as Frankenstein is so secretive about his work and science that it kills his loved ones and eventually himself. The monster is created in secret, and Frankenstein then continues to keep him secret, leading to the events that unfold.
How to use Frankenstein for the 2016 AP English Literature Free Response Questions
“Choose a novel or play in which a character deceives others. Then, in a well-written essay, analyze the motives for that character’s deception and discuss how the deception contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole.”
Frankenstein is a good choice to use for answering free response questions that deal with deception, as deception features prominently in the text. The character of Victor Frankenstein is where we see the most deception.
The novel focuses on Victor’s attempts to keep the monster a secret. The fact that Victor has created a monster is kept secret until the end, when he confesses everything to Walton just before he dies. Victor spends most of the novel trying to kill the monster that he created, but he keeps this ambition hidden from everyone.
Victor is deceiving those around him by keeping the monster’s existence to himself. Victor’s creation is responsible for the death of his younger brother. Justine, the innocent young girl in the Frankenstein family, gets blamed for the murder of Victor’s brother and is executed as a result.
Victor loses two younger members of his family as a direct result of the creation of his monster. The monster then goes on to kill Victor’s friend, Henry, before killing his new wife, Elizabeth. If Victor had informed someone of the existence of his creation, he might have avoided losing his loved ones.
Victor deceives others to protect his scientific discovery and his own knowledge. It is this deception by Victor that is the reason for his demise. By deceiving people he suffers extreme guilt, which leads him to become obsessed with trying to stop the monster.
This obsession with trying to eliminate the monster consumes Victor. His life revolves around his trying to correct the mistake he made by creating the monster in the first place. Keeping his creation of the monster a secret, he has to deal with the consequences alone. The theme of secrecy is reflected through Victor and through his deception of others.
By keeping such a secret, Victor’s mental health deteriorates from guilt, as it is he who is responsible for the death of his loved ones. The secrecy is important to the plot of Frankenstein and contributes to the other aspects of the novel, such as the quest for knowledge and science, as well as the fear of the unknown.
How to use Frankenstein for the 2015 AP English Literature Free Response Questions
“Select a novel, play, or epic poem in which acts of cruelty are important to the theme. Then write a well-developed essay analyzing how cruelty functions in the work as a whole and what the cruelty reveals about the perpetrator and/or victim.”
For free response questions that ask you to analyze cruelty in a text, Frankenstein is an ideal choice. The novel features various acts of cruelty that can link back to the question.
With Frankenstein’s creation of the monster he is ultimately unleashing cruelty into his society. The character of Justine suffers cruelty when she is blamed for the murder of Frankenstein’s brother, causing her to be executed. She has to endure the grief of losing a loved one before she is wrongly convicted of William’s murder.
With the monster murdering William, Henry, and Elizabeth, these are clearly cruel acts. However, it is Frankenstein who then has to suffer the grief of losing his loved ones and the guilt over what his creation has done.
We learn at the end of the novel that Frankenstein’s monster has also suffered. When Frankenstein created the monster, he didn’t factor in the consequences that could arise as a result. He created a life without any consideration for its feelings and he brought it into a world that was not accepting of it.
The monster has intelligence and emotions, and the cruelty he suffers is the reason for his behavior. Society has excluded him because Frankenstein has kept his science secret, and the monster is seen as hideous and terrifying, due to his appearance. Frankenstein also immediately regrets making the monster, fueling the monster’s anger and prompting him to seek revenge.
We can see that there are a range of cruel acts that can be investigated in the novel, and from different vantage points. The cruelty that is suffered by both the monster and Frankenstein helps to shape the novel and reflect the themes of secrecy and the supernatural, as well as the dangers of knowledge and science.
How to use Frankenstein for the 2014 AP English Literature Free Response Questions
“Select a character that has deliberately sacrificed, surrendered, or forfeited something in a way that highlights that character’s values. Then write a well-organized essay in which you analyze how the particular sacrifice illuminates the character’s values and provides a deeper understanding of the meaning of the work as a whole.”
For free response questions that deal with sacrifice, Frankenstein is an ideal text to use. The original publication of Mary Shelley’s novel was Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus. Prometheus was a god from Greek mythology who is said to have created humanity and gifted them fire after stealing it from Mount Olympus, sacrificing himself to be doomed to eternal punishment by Zeus.
In understanding the original title of the novel you can see that Shelley wanted the reader to think of Victor Frankenstein as a Prometheus character and for us to draw parallels between them. While Victor Frankenstein didn’t create humanity, he did create a supernatural being that was human-like in appearance and, as we discover at the end, also has human-like emotions.
Victor Frankenstein ultimately sacrifices his own life and his family’s for the sake of science. Scientific discoveries and the quest for knowledge are important to Victor. In his attempt to create life, he endangers the lives of his family members and suffers himself as a consequence, just as Prometheus did.
Frankenstein’s brother, friend and wife are all murdered by the monster he has created. The young Justine is blamed for the murder of Frankenstein’s brother and is executed after a trial. Lives are lost because of Frankenstein’s creation and his secrecy surrounding it. Even Frankenstein is sent to prison for the death of his friend, Henry, when it was the monster who physically murdered him.
With the deaths of his loved ones, Frankenstein is suffering from grief and guilt, but it is at his own hands, as he is the one responsible for the monster being alive in the first place. Frankenstein had dedicated his life to science, but he then dedicates himself to eliminating the monster.
He succeeded in creating a life, although it was not as he had expected, but the sacrifice of his life and his family’s lives had already been made when Frankenstein first decided to create the monster. Keeping his science secret seems to be more important to Frankenstein than his own life, which is ironic since it is the secret to life that he is trying to keep.
Frankenstein sacrificing lives highlights one of the main themes in the novel, which is the growth of science and knowledge and the dangers that it can bring.
How to use Frankenstein for the 2013 AP English Literature Free Response Questions
“Select a single pivotal moment in the psychological or moral development of the protagonist of a bildungsroman. Then write a well-organized essay that analyzes how that single moment shapes the meaning of the work as a whole.”
For free response questions that ask you to analyze a bildungsroman, Frankenstein is not the best book to use. Other texts you could use for this question are Emma or Great Expectations.
How to use Frankenstein for the 2012 AP English Literature Free Response Questions
“Choose a novel or play in which cultural, physical, or geographical surroundings shape psychological or moral traits in a character. Then write a well-organized essay in which you analyze how surroundings affect this character and illuminate the meaning of the work as a whole.”
For free response questions that require an analysis of surroundings, Frankenstein works well.
The monster is affected by his surroundings, and it is his experiences in these surroundings that cause him to seek revenge on Frankenstein. The environment into which Frankenstein brings the monster is not prepared for him. Frankenstein’s society is unprepared for the science behind the monster’s creation, leading the people to react in fear and highlighting the theme of fear of the unknown.
The monster learns language and how to communicate from observing the peasants. He makes further use of his surroundings by using his newly learned language skills to write words and messages on trees and rocks.
When Frankenstein creates a female version of the monster, he destroys it. Being excluded from society, the monster sees this female version as his only hope to have a companion and when it was destroyed by Frankenstein this further fueled his feelings of abandonment and loneliness.
By being different from the rest of society, the monster’s personality is shaped by the suffering he experiences, causing him to become even further cast out from society. When the reader learns that the monster has suffered a cruel life, it reinforces the theme of science and that perhaps it shouldn’t be practiced without full knowledge of the consequences.
After reading the past free response questions you should have a better understanding of how to approach writing your AP English Lit essay. It’s a good idea to study the themes of Frankenstein when you re-read the novel, as you will often find additional aspects of the text that weren’t obvious on your first reading.
You can always find additional study resources on Albert.io, including practice exam questions and links to past exam papers. You also might find it helpful to read The Ultimate Guide to 2016 AP English Literature FRQs and The Ultimate Guide to 2015 AP English Literature FRQs for extra advice on the exam.
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All LRHSD Advanced Placement (AP) courses follow the College Board course requirements and are approved through the AP Audit process. Information about individual course requirements set by the College Board can be found at www.collegeboard.org.
Lenape Regional High School District
Advanced Placement English Language and Composition, Level 1 Course of Study
BOE Approved July 2007
Revised October 2011
Table of Contents
Members of Revision Committee
Statement of Purpose
Program of Studies Description
Core Content Standards
Textbook and Resource Materials
Proof of Proficiency
Members of Revision Committee. Put an asterisk next to the contact person.
Statement of Purpose:
The purpose of all curriculum guides is to provide direction for instruction. They identify the written outcomes in a subject and /or grade as the basis for classroom activities and student assessment. In order to achieve maximum understanding, the objectives identified as learning outcomes must be written clearly and reflect the specific learning and behavior which are expected.
Objectives are written as major outcomes and stated to require critical thinking. Teachers should understand that they must make careful decisions about the specific sub skills and prior learning needed to reach these objectives. These professionals are encouraged to reflect with others teaching the same curriculum for this purpose and also to identify the most appropriate resources and methods of assessment. The assessments are directly aligned with the objectives. Therefore, the objectives in this guide are designed to provide direction to the teacher in order to facilitate instructional planning.
All teachers, parents and students should be informed of the expected outcomes (i.e. objectives) for the subject and/or grade level.
Program of Studies Description:
Offered by invitation only to rising juniors who display special ability in English. Equivalent to a first year college English course, students taking this course will be prepared to take the College Board's Advanced Placement Test in English Language and Composition. The course will focus on two major aspects of language: the development of interpretive skills through reading prose written in a variety of periods, disciplines and rhetorical contexts, and the development of writing styles that focus on the writers' purpose, while encompassing expository, analytical and argumentative writing. Students may receive college credit or advanced standing, depending upon their test scores and individual college policy.
Textbook and Resource Materials ï¿½ Identify on-line resources as well:
The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major Authors with Media Companion
The Language of Composition (Bedford St. Martin)
Writing With Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing 2nd Edition By John R. Trimble
50 Essays: A Portable Anthology Samuel Cohen, Editor
Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
An Unexpected Light: Travels in Afghanistan By Jason Elliot
Brave New World By Alduous Huxley
1984 By George Orwell
The Handmaid's Tale: A Novel By Margaret Atwood
Frankenstein By Mary Shelley
Angela's Ashes: A Memoir By Frank McCourt
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde By Robert Louis Stevenson
Macbeth Folger Shakespeare Library
Hamlet Folger Shakespeare Library
A Midsummer Night's Dream (2003)DVD
The Importance of Being Earnest (2002) DVD
Objective 1: Students will read non-fiction literary works, analyze them for rhetorical strategies, and evaluate the effectiveness of those strategies. Students will also read key British fiction and non-fiction works to understand their historical significance in the development of the English language and culture, evaluating the personal values/opinions involved and analyzing them according to various critical approaches. (RL 1,2,4,7, 10; RI 1,2,4,5,6,10)
Activities to meet objective:
- Analyze how rhetorical strategies (logos, ethos, and pathos) are used to develop an authorï¿½s purpose and his/her implementation of that purpose using argument, beginning with paragraph examples and moving to more involved essays.
- Practice active reading strategies necessary for AP rhetorical analysis.
- Utilize rubrics to assess range finder samples from previous AP exams.
- Read passages from cross-disciplinary texts.
- Read critically to compile and organize research information.
- Compare and contrast the values of any literary period with the themes and values of other periods, inferring from said material the history and development of modern values.
- List the characteristics of a literary period.
- Study vocabulary contained within course literature.
- Use contextual clues to decipher unknown words.
- Take practice AP Language and Composition tests as well as SAT critical reading sections, reviewing multiple-choice test-taking strategies.
- Read poetry and identify components of traditional and modern verse, including meter, figures of speech, sound device, line breaks, rhyme, and theme.
- Read at least one play with an emphasis on comprehending plot, setting, conflict, sub-plot, and characterization and dramatic components such as stage directions, blocking, production needs, dialogue/inflection, and theatrical value.
- Create a debate on a contemporary issue, utilizing quotations or authors studied in class as well as research via the Internet and other media as part of debate statements. (speaking)
- Determine purposes for reading that will clarify understanding the theme of good versus evil.
- Describe and discuss rhetorical strategies used in fiction as well as in non-fiction.
- Inventory elements of the authorï¿½s craft that contribute to the theme of good versus evil, and social isolation (diction, detail, syntax, point of view, narrative structure, tone, logos, ethos, and pathos)
- Explore reading strategies necessary to facilitate the comprehension of dense text: literary terminology unique to style analysis as well as literary terminology pertinent to English literature.
- Isolate elements of argument such as claim, warrant, and data, and determine the underlying assumptions of the argument.
- Students will attain a satisfactory score on the AP Language and Composition exam.
- Students will write paragraphs and eventually essays where they model the various rhetorical strategies they have learned in class.
- Students will compile research data into a full-length research paper that synthesizes information from multiple sources.
- Students will evaluate essays written by their peers according to writing rubrics.
- Students will use vocabulary words correctly in their rhetorical writings, and this usage will be evaluated based upon correct word usage.
- Students will compose writings to demonstrate their mastery of various literary modes and genres: for instance, writing an original sonnet or a piece of satire.
Objective 2: Students will write in various styles and genres for a variety of audiences and purposes. Students will use rhetorical strategies to write persuasive pieces. (W1,2,3,4,5,10)
Activities to meet objective:
- Review essay structure (thesis, paragraph structure, and conclusion) and create original pieces in this format.
- Respond in journals to daily/weekly prompts in order to develop style, voice, and skills in focused writing.
- Participate in writing workshops where they will engage essay prompts, utilizing various prewriting techniques to create clear, detailed, and focused starting points for the writing process.
- Apply multiple revision strategies in classroom workshops during and after the writing process to enhance the balance of focus, clarity, voice, and meaning in their essays.
- Practice and review specific grammatical elements via worksheets and textbook exercises.
- Engage in writing assignments of varied genres that ask students to imitate techniques of primary authors studied in class.
- Observe the teacher demonstrate how to edit a rough draft into a polished final draft and will then complete multiple essay projects in which they write successive drafts in order to achieve cohesiveness and clarity of expression.
- Interpret and respond to a variety of genres through writing.
- Using the writing process, show textual comprehension of various relationships as well as an awareness of audience in timed writings.
- Using the writing process in a style analysis of selected passages, explore a major theme/concept/ technique that the author uses.
- Apply ï¿½writing to learnï¿½ strategies to record reactions, clarify thoughts and further pose questions that contribute to understanding of relationships such as between writer/ audience and to increase comprehension of the text.
- Compare and contrast various literary representations of good and evil.
- Draw conclusion about the perceptions of good and evil through the ages.
- Complete pre-writing for various assignments using various computer applications including but not limited to ï¿½.
- Use word processing programs to prepare multiple drafts of a writing assignments. Print and revise writing assignments for content.
- Apply a variety of edit commands (spell check, cut, paste, font, and style selections, etc.) to publish writing assignments.
- Publish using several facets of various computer applications (layout, graphics etc.) in order to publish writing assignments.
- Compose paragraphs analyzing diction, detail, syntax, narrative structure, and point of view.
- Synthesize elements of rhetorical analysis in an AP timed write.
- Utilize persuasive techniques to create an original argument.
- Students will have their writing journals collected on a regular basis to assess progression in focused writing on specific prompts.
- Students will write at least one major essay a marking period on a critical reading of a literary work, author, or poet that engages every step in the writing process from pre-writing and brain-storming, to creating a thesis, to revising the final product.
- Students will demonstrate their mastery over grammatical correctness, syntactical clarity, and succinctness of prose through their writings.
- Students will complete a well-structured research paper according to their respective schoolï¿½s Research Guide.
- Students will demonstrate their mastery of correct writing format (MLA) in a typed final draft, observing correct margins, spacing, etc.
Objective 3: Students will verbally share information and participate in class discussions, small group activities and formal presentations. (S&L1,2,3,4,6)
Activities to meet objective:
- Discuss various genres of literature in round table discussions with a moderator, in small groups and with outside groups (i.e. interviews, recorded discussions, etc.).
- Generate ideas together for writing projects based upon literature read. Fine tune ideas and create finished products to be shared, presented and/or taught to a large group or within a small group.
- Take responsibility for the creation and delivery of a group oral presentation.
- Discern and be able to articulate both sides of an issue, either in writing or literature.
Students will discuss and debate certain non-fiction and literature based issues.
- Students will participate in round table discussions and be held accountable for articulating ideas and prompting discussion.
- Students will participate in graded group presentations.
Objective 4: Students will listen to each other, to their instructors, to guest speakers and to information presented orally or by way of audio recording in order to process, analyze and discuss information as heard and understood. (S&L 1,2,3,4,6)
Activities to meet objective:
- Respond to questions posed by instructors
- Demonstrate listening skills by participating in class discussions
- Analyze audio-visual aids to relate to course content.
- Be able to incorporate material presented to other areas of classroom activities.
- Work on oral group projects to analyze and discuss information presented.
- Be able to take andtranscribe oral material to notes
- Students will take notes in class, based on information gained from instructors as well as classmates and/or audio-visual means.
- Students will listen carefully to oral reports and gain course knowledge from such reports.
- Students will listen respectfully to classmates who are offering opposing viewpoints.
- Students will evaluate what others say and formulate a response based on the details of anotherï¿½s points.
- Students will take oral quizzes.
Objective 5: Students will access, analyze and use information from multiple mediums including electronic texts and audio/visual sources in order to support and strengthen verbal and written communication.(RI7, W6,8)
Activities to meet objective:
- View films related to course material and find relevance to specific literature and writing samples.
- Evaluate internet sources to use for comparative writing and literary studies
- Use internet sources to find and evaluate valid sites on all writing assignments, including term papers.
- Study various speeches via audio/visual resources to be able to identify different speaking and writing styles.
- Be able to find and llok for specific topics on internet designated by instructor.
- Recognize argements conveyed in visual media such as advertising, editorial cartoons, photographs and paintings.
Students will write critically based on information gained through electronic research.
Students will create research-related projects and presentations.
Students will create slide shows, web pages, charts and/or graphs based on information gained through electronic research.
Students will synthesize information gained through electronic research.
Students will utilize technology to present information to the class and/or to publish works.
Introduction to rhetoric and argument
The Language of Composition (Bedford/St. Martin text) 18-22 weeks
Major Works (4 or more from the following selection): 8-10 weeks
Beowulf 1 week
Canterbury Tales 2 weeks
Macbeth 3 weeks
Hamlet 3 weeks
Frankenstein 3 weeks
Angela's Ashes 2 weeks
The Handmaid's Tale 2 weeks
Jane Eyre 3 weeks
The Eyre Affair 2 weeks
1984 3 weeks
Brave New World 3 weeks
An Unexpected Light 3 weeks
Complementary Works 6-10 weeks
( from the following authors to be taught
throughout the year in conjunction with
the major works):
Selections from Norton Anthology:
Medieval (Gawain and the Green Knight, Morte d' Arthur, etc.)
Renaissance (Donne, Milton, Marlowe, Herrick, etc.)
Age of Reason (Defoe, Pope, Swift, Pepys, etc.)
Romantic (Wordsworth, Coleridge, Burns, Byron, Shelley, Keats etc.)
Victorian (Tennyson, Dickens, Browning, etc.)
Modern (Conrad, Kipling, Yeats, Joyce, Lawrence, etc.)
Selections from 50 Essays or Bedford:
Male Perspective(James Baldwin, Frederick Douglass, Thomas Jefferson, Stephen Jay Gould, Machiavelli, George Orwell, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Shelby Steele, William F. Buckley, Brent Staples, Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, Richard Rodriguez, etc.)
Female Perspective (Maya Angelou, Amy Tan, Alice Walker, Nancy Mairs, Gloria Anzaldue, Joan Didion, Maxine Hong Kingston, Zora Neale Hurston, Leslie Marmon Silko, Virginia Woolfe, Eudora Welty, Sojourner Truth, Jessica Mitford, etc.)
Research Paper 4 weeks
To be taught in conjunction with major and
Proof of Proficiency
Identify what you will be using as the Proof of Proficiency for Option 2 and email a copy of the actual document to the Senior Supervisor in charge of your area.
N/A for courses offered by College Board.