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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Context for this Lesson

Teaching Strategies: 

Topic: Frankenstein – A modern retelling examining the ethical issues of human cloning

Purpose: To extend the themes of Frankenstein into modern scientific dilemmas and examine the repercussions of cloning.

Prior Knowledge: Students should be familiar with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Materials: Lab Jackets, security badges, and plastic gloves for all participants


Teacher in Role

Students are kept out of room until class begins. The lesson begins with the teacher opening their door in roll and ushering students in by handing them lab coats, badges, and gloves and asking if they were spotted. Chairs in a circle await the students. Teacher welcomes students to the Ethical Review Committee for The Shelly Institute of Science. As some of you may know our CEO Dr. Shelly has discovered a way to make the first human clone. He is about to bring it to life, but I think something this important should be brought before the review committee first. Explain what human cloning is and begin to engage students in a discussion of the pros and cons of such an endeavor.Pros for cloning that might get brought up in role: We will all become very rich, having been on the forefront of a major achievement in science, and holding many shares in our genetics company. It will advance human knowledge and invention. We could cure disease, grow organs, create smarter, nicer, stronger humans.Cons for cloning that might get brought up in role: Should man be allowed to play God? Is striving for that kind of perfection a good thing for human beings? Are we racing ahead with the science before truly considering the ethical implications?Tell the members of the Ethical Review Committee, that they must vote immediately, as only they can stop Dr. Shelly from bringing his cloned human embryo to life. Get yes or no votes from the scientists, and ask for their suggestions on our next plan of action. (some students suggested destroying the clone, others aiding Dr. Shelly)



The teacher tells the students that we are now stepping out of role. Let us now imagine that despite the Review Committee’s best efforts, Dr. Shelly went ahead and made his clone. Like Shelly’s favorite monster the clone has had a difficult past. The clone looks like you and I, except he doesn’t really have parents, and has been silently and consistently ostracized for how he was brought into the world. Here are some newspaper headlines that occurred over the past twenty years of the clone’s life: Man Plays God: Clone Born, Does this mean the end of the human race? Seven year old clone enters college: Can you be too smart? Clone not asked to prom. Can Clone Love? Mysterious Fire breaks out at Clone’s Home! "What can we infer or deduce from these headlines? What has the clone’s life been like so far?"

Transition: "The Clone has been through a lot since being brought to life. I would love to see how we can bring these experiences to life."

Image Work

Ask the students to break up into groups of two or three. Each group will choose one of the headlines to inspire a frozen image. Give the groups some time to create their image, then share out.

Read the images, by asking: "What do you see? What story could this image be telling? Are there any other interpretations? How does the clone feel at this moment?"

Transition: "Now that we've explored some of the Clone's experiences, let's see if we can think deeper about what events are affecting the Clone and how those events might cause internal feelings or emotions."

Role on the Wall

The students will be invited to sit back down. The teacher will draw an outline of a human form on the board. Let’s say that this is our clone “Frankie.” What messages could our clone be getting from the outside world? Who might be sending these messages to him? Link the messages to the people who may be sending them (“you’re not good enough” could be said by Dr. Shelly, etc..) How might our clone be feeling on the inside about themselves and their place in the world? Write these messages inside the body outline of the clone.

Transition: "It seems like Frankie is having a lot of issues both externally and internally due to his/her circumstances. I am interested in what Frankie might have to say to Dr. Shelly."

Writing in Role

Encourage students to step into role as Frankie. Imagine that as the clone you are writing a letter to your creator Dr. Shelly. What would you want to say to him? What does he need to know about your life thus far? Share out writing.


Describe: What were some of the ways we explored Frankie's story today?

Analyze: What parallels does our story of Frankie have with the story of Frankenstein?

Relate: What themes of Frankenstein resonate with our society today?