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Activity Overview

Frankenstein is full of important literary elements for students to explore. One of these elements is the tragic hero, a protagonist who seems to be ill-fated, and destined for doom. In this novel, Frankenstein and his monster both fit this archetype.

The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, first articulated the specific attributes or principles of a tragic hero. In the storyboard example, the creator has focused on Victor Frankenstein as a tragic hero. The finished product outlines each of Aristotle's principles with a detailed explanation of the specific attributes and how they apply to Dr. Frankenstein. Students could choose to examine Frankenstein’s monster instead, or compare the two side by side in a grid layout

Example Tragic Hero Activity for Victor Frankenstein

Hamartia Flaw that Causes the Hero's Downfall Frankenstein’s blind ambition leads him to investigate science that is best left alone.
Hubris Excessive Pride Victor believes he can conquer death with science, recklessly playing “God” and ignoring the natural order.
Peripeteia Reversal of Fortune Victor thinks the monster is gone but returns home to find his brother, William, killed and the creature lurking.
Anagnorisis Hero Makes a Critical Discovery Victor realizes his monster killed his new bride, Elizabeth, and this is what was meant by, “I shall be with you on your wedding-night.”
Nemesis Unavoidable Fate Once Victor brought the monster to life, his fate was inextricably intertwined with it, to the ends of the earth, and the ends of their lives.
Catharsis Pity or Fear the Audience Feels After Hero's Fall In the end, the reader is left feeling pity for Victor, and fear that they too could suffer the consequences of hubris. Captain Walton, a surrogate for the reader, heeds the lesson and sails for home.
Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 9-10

Difficulty Level 4 (Difficult / Complex)

Type of Assignment Individual or Group

Type of Activity: Tragic Hero

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/3] Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme
  • [ELA-Literacy/W/9-10/1] Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows how either Victor Frankenstein or his monster can be considered a tragic hero.

  1. Identify events of the novel or characteristics of Frankenstein/the monster that fit into Aristotelian attributes of a tragic hero.
  2. Illustrate examples for Hamartia, Hubris, Peripeteia, Anagnorisis, Nemesis, and Catharsis.
  3. Write a short description below each cell that specifically relates Frankenstein/the monster as a tragic hero.
  4. Save and submit the assignment.


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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