Frankenstein - Themes overview

Themes are ideas that run all the way through a literary text. By analysing them you can analyse the writer's intentions. What choices have they made? Why? What are they trying to get the reader to think and feel? Analysing themes allows you to write in detail about a literary text.

Themes of Frankenstein, showing a brain and sums to represent knowledge and discovery, unbalanced scales to represent justice and a pitchfork and flaming torch to represent prejudice

In Frankenstein there are many themes which could be analysed. Three main themes are:

  • knowledge and discovery
  • justice
  • prejudice

In her first novel, Frankenstein Mary Shelley examined themes which were important to her personal experience. She had been raised by parents with strong political views who had a keen awareness of how society operated. Her husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, also had a highly developed social conscience and Mary came into contact with many of the great thinkers of her age. She was writing at a time of huge discoveries and experimentation in both science and the arts. All of these things are reflected in the themes of her novel.

Song: Themes in Frankenstein