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Rosenfeld's Monster

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I predict there will be at least 38 comments on this post. My kids do their homework, that much I know. I’m not so sure they all freewrite right. I take some of the blame; I’m not sure I’ve peeled back my skull enough in using this technique in class so as to make them understand just how undisciplined and generative the technique can be.

Regular readers of this blog will know that one of my favorite teacher tricks is the “quick write.” I use it when we are discussing or doing or watching something. At a certain point, instead of calling out questions to the group—a practice which generally results in a meaty conversation between me and ten percent of the students in the room—I ask kids to write their thoughts in their ever-handy writer’s notebook. What generally follows is a three- or ten- or eighteen- minute burst of intense silence, as every student scribbles out loud in his or her marble comp book.

I write, too. If I were to start puttering with papers or, even worse, walk around like a warden peering over their shoulders, I would be undermining the effectiveness of the freewrite. By writing intently, I send the message that this is thinking time for all of us. And it is. I usually have so many ideas after engaging in a class discussion that I can’t wait to make sense of them on paper.

My enthusiasm may be part of the problem. Every now and then I look up and notice with surprise that someone is twirling her pencil, or staring off into space. Why aren’t they madly scribbling, I wonder, generally before ducking my head back down to my own notebook page to keep up with a pen that hasn’t stopped moving.

One reason some stop writing, I think, is because they assume they’re done. Meaning, they’ve recorded a few lines for the assignment in case I check it, and now they just need to wait out the next five or fifteen minutes to get to the next thing (or even better, the end of class). Yes, even TJ students sometimes go through the motions. In fact, there are those who would argue that they tend to go through the motions even more than “regular” kids, so adept have our students become at the business of school.

Freewriting isn’t business. It isn’t about doing an assignment efficiently or for the grade. It’s really about letting go, losing yourself in a swirl of thoughts that may or may not go where you think it should. This is the creative ferment that leads to original ideas, in my experience, an absolutely essential stage along the path to more ordered, meaningful expression. I’ve explicitly taught it in a limited way, moreso implicitly by modeling and consistently having kids do it. Some get it, some don’t.

At any rate, I figured I’d take another stab here. Below is my own ten-minute freewrite at the end of a class discussion on Frankenstein. I’ve reproduced it verbatim, just the way it came out in my notebook. I’m assigning my tenth grade students to read this post and respond with a comment either directly from or based on their own freewrites. If they (or you) also want to weigh in on the process of freewriting itself, please do.

As context for those brave enough to wade through the responses, the reading covered was the last volume of three in Mary Shelley’s book. The day’s lesson consisted of sharing charts made last class in groups of four. Each chart had four sections. The first quadrant listed plot points using selected quotes. The second quarter noted “swoons and screams,” or other expressions of Romantic emotion. Third, I asked them to make a connection between Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” and the novel. Last, they had to find something that had recurred three times in the book, like an image, event, or an aspect of language.

While they shared the charts, I asked them to make notes on three questions in their writer’s notebooks. First, why are swoons and screams important? Second, what makes this a Romantic work? And third, write three thesis statements based on recurring aspects. At the end of class, we all wrote for an additional ten minutes. Here’s my unmediated response. Read on and my kids will show you theirs.

Start 9:50- end 10:00
Most swoons [my kids claim to have experienced] are girls screaming at bugs or caterpillars. My example: the popped-out knee in art class yesterday, the teacher’s grief-stricken expression as he waited in the office for the ambulance. The rarity of true experiences in life that take us to the edge, the heights of the sublime or the depths of despair. Maybe Burma or China right now, the desperate villagers trapped under rubble of cheaply-made schools because corrupt officials were on the take and the cement crumbles in your fingers…

Authenticity of experience, being truly alive, awake—not asleep, not “calmer” or “relaxed.” The possibility of violent emotion…

Frankenstein as an anti-Romantic novel, a Gothic story in which nature does not sooth, it blasts. Repeatedly, Victor tries to find solace in the beauty of lakes and mountains, with ever-diminishing returns. Ultimately, he ends up in the blasted lifeless frozen North, more truly expressive of his internal landscape. Not sublime, but cast down from heaven with violence to a frozen hell. Nature, subverted, twisted punishes Victor with endless pursuit. Because he violated her laws, created an unnatural scientific contraption, machine, machination, manipulation, perversion… because of his Promethean hubris, he is cast out of heaven, denied the Wordsworthian sublime. Instead of dissolution of self in Edenic nature, he us utterly self-bound, locked in his own obsession, bound by his own creation in chains that prevent him from escaping a crushing sense of guilt, defeat and loss.

39 Comments

To me, freewriting is helpful in processing and organizing the thoughts forming and disintegrating in your mind from class discussions or reactions to a reading. Sometimes, I think it's unnecessary because I assume I have all my thoughts firmly in mind, and writing them down would only serve to hinder the process and render it useless. However, upon completion of freewriting assignments, I'm forced to admit that it was a beneficial activity because I had the opportunity to really develop my thoughts and solidify my opinions regarding the topic. Now, here's an excerpt from my freewriting on "Frankenstein" in response to Mr. Rosenfeld's prompt:

Write three theses based on recurring themes.

1) The progression of Frankensteing's mental anguish and deteriorating health is representative of his emotional and physical struggle with his monster.
2)Frankenstein's guilt intensifies as the full consequences of creating his monster become real, and he is stripped of those he loves.
3) Death and tragedy surround Frankenstein until he is immersed in a pool of regret and sorrow.

As for Frankenstein's psychological agony caused by his monster, I am left wondering why he would not have just done himself a favor and told Clerval or Elizabeth, even. Unloading his clandestine burden would have enabled him to share the load and perhaps find an effective way to banish the monster from his life and from the earth. I am positive they would have believed him, although Elizabeth would have taken some convincing. This possibility has run through my mind numerous times as I read the book. I think that the outcome would not have been so tragic if Frankenstein had chosen to take this option. Alas, if that were the case, Mary Shelley's "horror effect" would have been seriously undermined, and her book may never have become the classic is it today.

I never thought of freewriting as a really effective teaching method. I thought it was a fun activity where I could just jot down some notes just to keep track of my thoughts. However, I never even considered the alternative -- the "meaty conversation between me and ten percent of the students in the room" (I'm generally part of the other 90%). Now that I have really considered the other options, I can actually say that I agree that the freewriting is a unique and effective way in involving the entire class in the topic of choice.

I don't know if I'm supposed to share like grace did, but i'll do it just in case =D

What makes this piece Romantic?

Aspects of this work can be categorized as Romantic because, I believe, two major themes associated with Romanticism: Nature and Emotions. These two themes are intertwining in Frankenstin, giving off a strong Romantic feeling while reading. In Frankenstein, Victor feels and experiences the pain, guilt, and sorrow derived from the actions of his creation, and he eventually dies from grief. Also, the monster feels a vast loneliness and a misery because of the lack of love shown to him. Nature, the second theme of Romanticism in this novel, is the only method of recovering and exuding the feeling of peace. He (Frankenstin) often felt the pressures and desperation of his situation. The visions of colossal mountains, icy fields, and flowing streams calmed his sould and gave him tranquility. It gave Victor a sublime feeling, inspiring a world of peace in his imagination.

As you can see, my opinion expresses the opposite side of Mr. Rosenfeld's argument that the Gothic style and the horrors of nature really doomed Victor. Of course I noticed that Victor had to fight through ice and snow in the Arctic to chase after his monster, but I believe that the majority of nature's role in this piece of literature was to soothe Frankenstein whenever he felt his overwhelming emotions.

I personally believe that freewriting does help me get my thoughts out of my head and down on paper. It’s like a catalyst in transforming something abstract, which in this case is thoughts and emotions, into writing, which is concrete. Freewriting isn’t always easy, though. Perhaps I myself go through some of those phases of “staring into space” during freewrite sessions. Sometimes, I can’t keep track of my thoughts, and have trouble3 getting them out because they are throwing themselves a really chaotic party in my head. At other times, my thoughts are really clear and strong, so I easily write them down. But sometimes, I can’t even make up my mind, let alone figure out what I want to write! Overall, I agree with Grace in that freewriting is a helpful activity. We often do “word splashes” in our writer’s notebooks as well, which I think are a great start to any writing process.

Nonetheless, I am proud to be part of the 10% of the students in the “meaty conversation”. I’m also proud to say that I am one of the girls who thinks being within five feet of a caterpillar or bug epitomizes “swoons and screams”. ;P

As for the discussion of Frankenstein as a Romantic novel, I’m going to take Paul’s side of the argument (Sorry, Mr. Rosenfeld :P). Regardless of its soothing or blasting effects, nature still plays a significant role in the development and plot of Mary Shelley’s story. Victor Frankenstein infringed upon nature’s jurisdiction and laws of utmost importance. He then went to nature for comfort while being haunted by it (which is actually REALLY ironic). Needless to explain, the significance of emotional expression in Frankenstein was exemplified by our discussions of the “swoons and screams”.

Inspired by Grace, I find it fit to add the theses composed by my group regarding Mary Shelley’s novel:

1. Mary Shelley portrays Victor Frankenstein’s guilt and misery as he travels to recover from death and shock of those dear to him in each of the three volumes

2. Victor Frankenstein not taking responsibility for the monster he created and his actions leads to self-destruction and negative effects upon himself, such as the death of his family and friends.

3. Frankenstein might have been the monster’s creator, but the monster, as it itself states in the book, is his master.


While reading Mr. Rosenfeld's blog, I found myself thinking about our very first freewrite, entitled 'Personal Geography'. I thought about how it was a completely different kind of assignment for me at first, and how amazed I was when I looked up during that freewrite and saw Mr. Rosenfeld at a desk, writing as well. Over the course of the year, though, freewrites have lost their appeal to me. Actually, the first paragraph of Paul's blog sums up my exact feelings on the matter.

In our current little debate about whether nature heals Frankenstein or not, I think I will even up the teams a bit and take Mr. Rosenfeld's side. At first when Frankenstein (or the monster, for that matter) is depressed, he is immediately revived by nature. But as Frankenstein's anguish grows, the effect that nature has on him decays until the reader reaches the end of the book when Frankenstein is chasing the monster through the Arctic.

Here are the three thesis statements that I came up with during our freewrite:
1. As Frankenstein gets farther and farther in his studies and learns of the deaths of people he loves, he becomes more separated from humanity.
2. Nature seems to revive both Frankenstein and the monster when they are depressed in the beginning, but begins to have no healing effect as Frankenstein's torment increases.
3. With every death of a friend that Frankenstein has to live through, his physical and mental well-being deteriorate until he eventually dies from his own grief and agony.

These ideas are taken from my freewrite and are incorporated into the following observations/opinions.

I agree with the idea of Nature punishing Victor Frankenstein for his artificial "reproductive" method and essentially creating the monster. In the article I read in class, the author argued that Victor was afraid of female sexuality. MOTHER Nature played a large role in the novel by torturing Victor for avoiding female sexuality. For example, when Frankenstein was in the process of creating a female match to the horrid monster he had already created, he (Victor) began to really think. He worried that this female monster would be worse and possibly disgusted by her predetermined match. Most of all, he feared her power to reproduce and create an entire population - no, species - of "little devils".

In fact, Nature seems to be in on the plot to separate Frankenstein from his fellow men, just as he had separated his creation from all other living beings. Although Nature presented a calming landscape, etc. for Frankenstein in a few times of distress, it was merely a landscape and nothing more. At one point in the book, Frankenstein had taken out his boat to the middle of the lake. He felt so serene and at peace that he felt the temptation to jump in. I ask you, just what is Nature's ultimate motive?

In response to what Mr. Rosenfeld mentioned about the creator being changed to the creation, I began to think of God's creations. With all respect, God has/d control over His creations - ultimately turning the species into a "beautiful" (according to the monster) race. This is unlike Frankenstein, who had abandoned his monster at the first opportunity, and now has to suffer the consequences. I believe that if Frankenstein had not fled the scene, he would not have suffered. Frankly, something was different about Frankenstein from the very beginning. He was bent on separating himself from his family and friends to obsess over this artificial creation. It's possible that he started to separate himself from humanity even before the monster appeared. In the end, all Frankenstein had left was his vengeance.

The first topic of this freewrite is: Why are Swoons and Screams important? During class, we described personal experiences in which we experienced such emotions. It was clear that none of us readers had experienced the horrors that Frankenstein did. I agree with Mr. Rosenfeld that the fact that many people do not experience horrors like Frankenstein’s on a daily basis, makes the text more dramatic and the emotions of Victor can accurately be portrayed. In addition, the “swoons and screams” were used to shift the focus of the story. When Victor was depressed, he became the focus of the writing and his emotions were emphasized. The same is true for the monster.

The next topic of this freewrite is: What makes this a romantic work? After working deeply with Romantic works in HUM this year, my opinion is that Romantic works emphasize nature and emotions, but frown upon scientific and technological advancements. Despite Frankenstein’s creation of the monster, Mary Shelley focuses less on the scientific aspect of creating the wretch than the emotions that resulted from it. Frankenstein clearly shows that nature’s power will always outweigh that of scientific creation. When God made humans, he created a race that is far superior to what a human like Victor could possibly create and this is because although humans are scientifically advanced, their science can never match nature. Nature is continuously torturing Frankenstein for his attempts to replicate the process of creating life. There seem to be two different opinions regarding nature’s role in the story. Either nature’s landscape allows Victor to forget about his woes, or that nature continuously tortures Victor. I feel that the reader’s opinion depends on the perspective through which they he or she reads the book. Mary Shelley successfully provides detail to allow the reader to connect with Victor and feel the same emotions as he does. In the story Victor thinks of nature as a place to relieve his stress and so we, as readers, believe that this is what is happening. However, if we take a step back, we realize that through the torture that nature provides in this book, Victor is forced to escape to nature and become increasingly separated from society.

The final topic for this freewrite is: Write three thesis statements based on recurring aspects. The three thesis statements that I thought of in class were:
1) The grief and emotions of the characters had a direct effect on the physical health of the character.
2) Nature revives not only Victor but also the monster throughout the book. But nature also separates Victor from society and his loved ones thus increasing the pain and misery that he suffers.
3) Victor gave life to the monster and his punishment for this is that he will suffer for the rest of his life, but despite all of his misery, he will not die himself and will be forced to witness the deaths of his loved ones.

The thesis statement that I feel is most relevant to the book is that the grief and emotions of the characters, especially Victor, deteriorated their health. There were three major examples of this. First, when the monster was created, Victor became very ill. Second, at the time of Justine’s death, Victor falls sick again because he realizes that Justine had been punished for something that Victor should have been blamed for. The third example is at the time of Clerval’s death. The scene where Victor sees the inanimate form of his closest friend is described deeply and for his entire journey back home from Ireland, he was sick and he said that his body’s frame could no longer carry the grief that he was facing. Also, when Victor sees Elizabeth dead, he not only faints, but then faints again because he cannot handle the stress that the deaths of loved ones has brought him. It is clear that Victor was being forced to suffer through life and that the monster had no intention of actually killing Victor, but instead, to make him face misery. After seeing that so many loved ones were dying, Victor’s father dies. Victor himself, however, does not die from witnessing and causing the deaths of his loved ones.

Here's a toast to the happy 90% that is content to listen to the ideas of others. But for those who are intrested (and lest Mr. Rosenfeld think I'm slacking off during class), here are my thoughts on the three questions we were asked to freewrite about.

Why are swoons and screams important?
As others have pointed out, our lives are usually fairly devoid of swoons and screams. Other than a perpetual fear of insects, few people have experienced the kind of raw emotion that elicits such a response. That said, few people have crossed the barrier between life and death and brought a corpse to life.
In Frankenstein, the swoons and screams dramaticise the life of the main characters. Victor doesn't just get frightened when he creates the monster, he is filled with "breathless horror and disgust" that no mortal could support (pg. 34, original version).
Which directly ties into the second question, what makes this piece Romantic? It's the focus on emotion, the emphasis on feelings. Romantic artists were big fans of indescribable ecstasy and emotional works. And what better way to show how emotional your character is than by having him scream, swoon, along with detailed descriptions of him doing so. The characters in Frankenstein aren’t living the dull life we live, their living LIFE!, the super-charged emotional version of life that is far more entertaining to read.
And to finish up, here are three thesis statements.
-The more disconnected from society you are, the crazier you get. Just look at Frankenstein (abandon all social ties to make a monster) and the monster (who never had any social ties to begin with, and has arguable sanity).
-The monster and Frankenstein have a father-son relationship. Frankenstein is a negligent dad; the monster is a bitter angry son. They hate each other until the end, when the monster says farewell to his "dad".
-God/Mother Nature is punishing Frankenstein for messing around with the natural order. The monster is just helping nature along.

I like having "free writes", "word splashes" and "quick writes" in class because it allows me to revise my thoughts more than if I were speaking or typing. While it might be strange to think of writing freely as something revised, my lack of penmanship and being accustomed to typing make me slow down much more than I usually do.


I agree with Shravya's stance on Victor's battle with mother nature and his rejection of female sexuality. We read the same article in class, and I found it very interesting that the only female in the book that Victor was not able to suppress and control was Mother Nature herself. His fear of female sexuality was blatant, for why would he need to create human life himself otherwise? The reason he tore the "bride of Frankenstein" to pieces was because of his fear of a dominating female and her power to reproduce. While I'm not sure if Shelley wrote Frankenstein with these thoughts in her mind, I believe if she didn't, it was still in her subconscious as a result of her mother's adamant feminism.

My Swoons + Screams response:

Nature was an important part of the Romantic movement, and Mary Shelley uses this in a new way by using nature as an emotional amplifier. When Victor was alone, and only set on revenge, his solitude was reflected in the desolate arctic wasteland. When the monster was being created, a tempest with large flashes of lightning set the maniacal mood of the scientist.

Mary Shelley makes her characters tell stories of human curiosity. In Frankenstein, the innate human desire for knowledge leads to their downfall. Both Victor and his demon experience this. Victor loses everything he loves in order to create and, ironically, reject his monster. The monster wants to learn about others, and when he finds the blind man and his family, he risks rejection to learn from them. This results in his rejection, of course, and the boy even beats him. Mary Shelley may be condemning the act of "playing God" or merely showing the fallacies of human nature.

The horror she infuses into her writing is emotion at its greatest, by bringing it into the minds of her readers.

I used the two questions to guide me in my theses, which are:

1) By using swoons and screams, Mary Shelley emphasizes Frankenstein's emotions through a very turbulent period and reiterates the heinous deeds of the monster.
2) Romanticism beliefs of science as a danger prevail through the work, showcased in the "machinizations" of the monster.
3) Nature is portrayed both positively and negatively, driving the story forward and almost evolving into a character herself due to the prominence of her role.

The following are a few bullets which I made after writing my theses, which I've added to in response to the discussion above.

-- While the monster keeps insisting that he is a gentle creature rendered spiteful by circumstances, the audience shares a deeper connection with Frankenstein not only due to the fact that he's the narrator, but also because the audience experiences his turmoil and reads through the deaths of all those dear to Frankenstein.
-- Emotions are also a very prominent part of the Romantic theme, and although I would chose the word "Gothic" over "Romantic" to classify this book, the two descriptions are not mutually exclusive. While Gothicism does delight in horror and violence, prevalent themes of Frankenstein, it does not necessarily exclude an emphasis on nature and emotions. By contrasting the violence against its human reaction, by contrasting mechanic horror against the unpredictability and beauty of nature, a combination of Gothicism and Romanticism, Mary Shelley adds a good dose of dimension to her character and story.
-- Despite wanting to make Frankenstein's life miserable, the monster declares his grief at his death. The justification of this is he was always looking for Frankenstein's affection, always trying to earn his regard by simply demonstrating to him how miserable he has been. The monster was only making Frankenstein miserable to make Frankenstein appreciate the misery the monster went through, so then Frankenstein would become his friend and companion. He never intended to kill him.

To me, both freewriting and conversation are important—they really complement each other. Sometimes I find it easier to start out a topic with a freewrite in order to generate ideas and get my brain thinking. That way, when we transition to a group discussion, I don't have to twiddle my thumbs since the freewrite allowed me to see what I already know about the topic. On the other hand, sometimes I need to listen to discussion in order to generate thought.
The best part about freewrites, is that no one checks them. Occasionally it is nice to be able to write what you think without having to worry about whether you've
"completed the assignment." So, in that sense, I think the majority of the class uses the time given as an unstructured time to think. In this case, the freewrite for me was effective, since as a group we shared presentations and then took the time to jot down connections we had made.
Now to transition to the actual prompt; of the three topics we were given to write about, I seemed to make the most connections was Why is this a Romantic Work. So here is what I wrote in my notebook:

"Interestingly, at first glance I would think this piece would never represent the romantic period, since it is focused on the creation of another being, meaning science, which potentially meant the Enlightenment?
But really, the core focus of this book, is the emotions of Frankenstein and his creation. Shelly didn't go into depth about the scientific procedure, but spent pages and pages describing his reaction to the project.
Ironically, it very much rejected scientific thought—one of the main principles of the Romantic period. The creation of the monster resulted in the inexorable grief for all parties involved. So basically Shelley was saying in her own words "Well, if you'd stayed within your natural mortal limits then none of this would have ever happened."

I ran out of time before I could make my other real connection—that Shelley, as a woman was using this book to show what a powerful, and underestimated role women play not simply in society, but in nature (this kind of relates to what Shravya and Sam had to say). Think about it. First, Frankenstein overlooks women's role of bearing and rearing children. Somehow women after producing a baby from inside them develop a special bond which in this case was non-existent.
Now I agree with you, Mr. Rosenfeld, in that Frankenstein was a prisoner of his own guilt. But nature has always been "mother", and therefore, nature playing her usual maternal role consoled Frankenstein to a great degree.
Lastly, to sort of bounce off what Sam had to say; before Frankenstein ripped up the body of his she-devil, he thought about the consequences that humanity would suffer if he unleashed this monster into the world. While his first monster was dangerous, he was no where as harmful as a female one would be. To paraphrase what was written in the book, this is what Frankenstein thought was wrong with creating a female monster:
1) The she-monster would believe she was too beautiful for the original monster
2) She would be a thousand times more malignant
3) Would not want to be controlled
So therefore, he ripped up the she-monster. Great, now he spurns feminism again, leading to the deaths of his wife and his best friend.
Based on our discussion, the freewrite, and reading my peer's responses, there is no doubt in my mind that this is a romantic novel. Overlooking the female role and the presence of mother is spurning nature, something I think Mary Shelley has clearly warned us not to do.

I never really thought to consider Frankenstein as an "Anti-Romantic" novel before I read this blog, but while I was reading the book I did recognize the deterioration of a major Romantic theme in the book, which is the importance of nature in one's personal health and well-being. At the beginning of the book, Shelley would spend pages upon pages describing the scenery when Frankenstein was on a journey. After William's death Frankenstein took a trip into the wild solely for the purpose of regaining his physical and mental health. What ended up happening is that on this trip he met the monster. This could be thought of as the start of nature's punishing of Frankenstein. After this, Frankenstein somehow manages to still find some comfort in the beauty of nature, but this comfort declines. By his weeding night, he doesn't find any solace in nature. When he is traveling down the river with Elizabeth, he mostly talks about how Elizabeth enjoys the scenery as he is too miserable and worried to do so. The last blow by nature is obviously the monster taking him into the harsh Arctic, where he struggles to survive while the monster is hardly affected. I saw this steady decline of nature's kindness to Frankenstein as a parallel to the deterioration of Frankenstein's physical and emotional health rather than a sign of Anti-romanticism.

After our class discussion, I wrote that the Swoons & Screams epitomized Frankenstein’s health’s acute sensitivity to his emotions and the horror surrounding him. The “Screams” increase the drama and Gothic aspect of the story making it clear that Frankenstein’s (or the monster’s) anguish and suffering were beyond any other anyone has ever experienced. This connects to what Peter wrote earlier, that apparently Shelley wanted to make the emotions and feelings “super” and greatly exceeding the magnitude of [normal] human’s feelings.

For me, freewriting has always been an effective way to lay my ideas down in writing, or to think of new ones. Its unstructured form allows me to follow my ideas wherever they take me, even if they are not always fully developed. This is especially helpful when I am planning a larger piece and need a place to brainstorm in preparation for writing my actual paper. When freewriting, I always find myself pleasantly surprised at what I can come up with in a designated period of time. Often, the results are unexpected and could not have been achieved without freewriting.

Here is an excerpt from my "Frankenstein" freewrite:

Write 3 Theses based on reoccurring themes in the novel:

1) The death of Frankenstein's loved ones and the creation of the monster had a deep psychological impact on him, resulting in a deterioration of his physical well-being.
2) As the monster's victims increased in number, Frankenstein's sense of guilt and responsibility prompted him to seek the destruction of his creature.
3) The power of nature to both nurture and destroy can be traced throughout the novel.

I agree with Mr.Rosenfeld's observation that in "Frankenstein," Nature is a destroyer, a vengeful force that is ready to punish the one who dared to violate it. By tampering with Nature's conception of a man, and by attempting to alter the natural cycle of life and death, Frankenstein brought upon himself its wrath. While he found momentary solace in being amongst nature, he could never escape from the enormity of what he had done and his pending doom.
However, I do not agree with Mr.Rosenfeld's statement that Frankenstein is an "anti-Romantic novel.” If anything, by emphasizing how destructive Nature can be, Shelley is upholding the Romantic ideal of Nature as unstoppable power, a power to be cherished and revered.

Freewriting, for me this year, is the precursor to all great writing. It is where I can look at a sheet of blank paper, and generate ideas seemingly randomly out of the hat, where I try to find some connections between those ideas and try to puzzle them into a picture, and where I practice for the “real deal”. It is to some relief after reading Mr. Rosenfeld’s article that I found I was fulfilling the rightful purpose of freewriting: undisciplined and degenerate writing. For me, freewriting has been an act of simply jotting down what I think down on the paper, an act of playing a movie of my thoughts, even an act of thinking itself; it is to no one’s surprise, thus, that sometimes no one can comprehend the messages encrypted behind those seemingly meaningless strands of broken English. Yet, when freewriting, the writer gets a sense of fulfillment and organization, as if all the disorder and chaos stored in our teenaged brains have been cleaned out on to the mess on what used to be a blank sheet of paper. Freewriting is precisely, as Mr. Rosenfeld quoted, all about “losing yourself in a swirl or thoughts”.
Especially for the students that do not like to engage in “meaty conversations”, free writing serves as a place where they can hold intense conversations in the quiet, unbothered and unchallenged by others. For me personally, the writer’s notebook has been just that.
Anyways, enough about freewriting. Here is what my thoughts regarding the book were:
The significance of swoons and screams is that it draws immense attention from the readers; this is so because we as readers don’t face all that many such occurrences during our daily life. Three examples of swoons and screams are the death of the father, the two faints of Frankenstein, and the fingerprints on the monster’s victims that surrounded Frankenstein in a pool of remorse. All three examples are related to emotions, and display the torture that emotional distress can have on the physical body; this is a recurring theme throughout the book. After all, Victor Frankenstein’s father does not die because he was physically ill, but because his mental health was seriously traumatized by the deaths of so many of his family members. Frankenstein himself does not faint twice because the monster attacked him physically, but because he was assaulted emotionally. The reason that the fingerprints of the monster left on its victims so haunted Victor was that it served as a symbol for what he had created, and thus was responsible for.
As many others had pointed out, I can think of two major reasons as to why this book is a work of Romanticism: it dwells on the importance of emotions and nature. In the previous examples, the reader can see the tremendous effects that emotional distress had on the physical body. I think in the same way emotions affect the physical body, nature similarly affects the emotions. Victor Frankenstein and the monster both found peace in the beauty of nature. I think this sense of tranquility is not from feeling that one’s problems were going to be over soon, or that everything was okay, but because the characters felt a feeling of insignificance in the aura of greatness of nature.
Thesis:
1. The deteriorating mental strength of Frankenstein correlates with his health; the weaker the mind, the weaker the body.
2. Death can be a place of sanctuary for the anguished; the monster sought of death at the end of the book because he was so anguished, and Frankenstein only minded dying because his mission regarding the monster had not been fulfilled.
3. Nature can serve as a place of peace for both the “good” and the “evil”. Both Frankenstein and the monster felt a feeling of insignificance in nature, and thus, the problems of theses beings seemed so small and meaningless.

@Mr. R: Your description of freewriting sounds similar to your definition of the sublime: losing yourself in contemplation.

My freewrite (cleaned up, organized and translated from shorthand for the benefit of the readers) follows:

Part 1 connection [note to non-classmates: this was to find something from volumes 1, 2 and 3 that was common to all]: Victor separates himself from humanity because of the monster, either because he is making it or because it kills his family, thereby cutting of Victor's connections to humanity.

Part 3 events [this is chapter 7, volume 3]: Victor chases "Frankie" into the arctic, is found by Walton, and dies. Frankie appears to be saddened by this, and to start to regret his actions. He apparently realizes that Victor meant no harm through his creation. He may also respect that, despite being driven to near insanity, Victor maintained his purpose (i.e. killing Frankie).

Swoons and Screams are important because they mark turning points -- for example, when Victor got sick the first time, it marked his creation of the monster. Other sicknesses mark deaths of his family members. Also, when Frankie screamed after his "wife" was destroyed, it marked the "final push" of their vendetta.

This piece is Romantic because of nature and its role: it is portrayed as calming, especially when Victor manages to forget what he has done. Furthermore, a lot of raw emotion is involved (see "Swoons and Screams"), as was the case with lots of Romantic stuff. It also says (as Karloff might put it) "RRR! SCIENCE NO GOOD!"

Theses:
1. When a character connects with nature, he feels better. This is clearly the case with Victor, and his friend Henry also comments on being happy in Nature.
2. Meddling in God's domain (i.e. raising the dead) leads to isolation and rejection -- for example, Victor isolated himself while making Frankie.
3. Interfering with Nature and dwelling on it leads to physical infirmity -- for example, Victor got ill when he made or even thought about Frankie.

//end entry

-- from the man of few words

Free writing, a style which I have been familiar from the time I started 9th grade, has definitely improved my writing skills in various ways. Initially, I thought, this ice-breaker sort of writing wasn’t off any use to me, since some of the ideas noted down were a bit irrelevant to the topic. But, I realized, as time progressed that with practice, free writing can actually help one come up with ideas that will help them draw certain conclusions regarding a given prompt. Usually, in class, while studying literature, many activities are done in order to deepen our knowledge and gain insight on the writer’s intent for per se a passage in a classic novel. For instance, the latest book that we have been reading is Frankenstein and we explored different aspects of this book by relating it to the time period it was written in, the author’s life history, and other pieces relating to the novel. After deeply analyzing all of these components, the writer’s notebook provides an opportunity to take a step back and look at the picture as a whole.

Last class, we discussed certain aspects of the last volume of the classic novel, Frankenstein and examined how it tied together all of the loose ends. During our discussion, certain questions were posed to instigate us to look at the novel from different perspectives. For instance, the first question posed was why swoons and screams were thought to be of significance in Mary Shelley’s book. I believe that swoons and screams are present to dramatize the plot and in a way invoke a certain feeling, similar to that of the character, in the reader. One perfect example was when Henry Clerval, Victor’s best friend, was murdered by the monstrous fiend. Right after, Victor heard this news, he fell sick and this was one of Mary Shelley’s techniques in conveying the character’s emotional position after hearing such dreadful news. If Mary Shelley hadn’t sensationalized Victor’s swoon, then it wouldn’t have made such a big impact on the reader as it should have since the death of Victor’s acquaintances is key to the novel ‘morale’.

Another question posed was how Frankenstein is representative of a Romantic work. To start of, Romanticism, a period followed by the Enlightenment, was a time when more emphasis and importance was given to an individual’s emotions, experiences, and creativity rather than giving weight to neoclassicism ideas of harmony, reason, and control. Frankenstein, written during the Romantic period, criticizes the notions of the Enlightenment of trying to find a logical, scientific explanation to all of the wonders of nature. Victor is portrayed as a figure whose greed and curiosity for knowledge about the creation of a human being is immense. By the end, the main character is nearly destroyed because of his interference with nature and God’s grace. This essentially implies that trying to find reason for all of the doings of nature will destroy one’s life for the worse. This is why, I believe, the quote “Innocence is bliss” comes into play into one’s life. Victor perceived knowledge to be power, but soon realized that this acquired knowledge proved detrimental to his own life.

By summing up my ideas above, my thesis statements are:

1. The ruthless chase for knowledge proves dangerous and often results in the destruction of many lives as is evident with Victor’s life and his companions.
2. Throughout Frankenstein, Victor thought of life to be a mystery filled with dangerous secrets, which once disclosed must be guarded heavily; little does he realize this secrecy of his destroys his whole life
3. The sublime nature’s influence, evident throughout the novel, in consoling Victor abates as the book progresses to portray and prove the notion that interference with nature is detrimental to one.

In previous English classes I have encountered the process of free write as an exercise to write freely and without constraints or any planning. Although we did similar exercises the objective of the free write was never the same. Last year, we wrote freely about anything we desired as long as we wrote for twenty minutes. This year is very different because it is more of an unplanned response to a certain topic. This technique seems more useful because it has relatively more structure and allows me to better record my initial thoughts or reactions to a certain topic. Being able to write down these immediate thoughts is very interesting because it helps me solidify my ideas. Although at times it may be difficult to continuously write for a certain period of time, it is easier to write clearer because the thoughts are untainted. As stated in Mr. Rosenfeld’s blog “This is the creative ferment that leads to original ideas, in my experience, an absolutely essential stage along the path to more ordered, meaningful expression,” which clearly summarizes that free writes are extremely important in producing a strong paper because it has all the original thoughts and ideas that are useful for the final product.

My three thesis statements are:
1. As Frankenstein further pursued his natural interest in science by creating the monster other aspects of his life begin to fall apart causing the inevitable end of his life.
2. The monster desires to make Frankenstein suffer for every one of the evil deeds he did towards him in order for Frankenstein to feel penitence for his actions.
3. The force of nature was an invincible and determining power that dictated the fate of both Frankenstein and the monster.

Throughout the story Shelley tried to maintain these ideas by describing Frankenstein’s major interest in creating a living human from the dead and how he became obsessed with this. She also writes about the monster blaming Frankenstein for all his misery and wishing to take vengeance on him.
“Swoons and screams” are essential to any suspense or horror story, such as Frankenstein because it adds to the fear of the antagonist. In movies, such as the one we saw in class, it is very easy to build up this suspense through music, lighting, etc., but in the case of a novel it is not nearly as easy. In order for the reader to understand the seriousness and terror of the monster and be able to relate to the victim there must be some build up for suspense. All this suspense contributed to the built up suspense and added terror of the monster. The reader must build up a perception of the feared character, therefore whenever introduced they will have a better understanding of its horror. This is achieved through showing the reactions of other characters that make the antagonist or Frankenstein very frightening.
After comparing Frankenstein to the poem “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” by Wordsworth, a famous romantic poet, I was able to derive several similarities that classify these two works into the romantic time period. In order to verify this I used the artwork I found for the museum. During the Romantic time period there was a great deal of emphasis on nature and its beauty. This was often described in the monster’s travels throughout the continent. Another aspect that made it romantic is that the story had a strong theme of the loneliness of man, which is found in Frankenstein’s seclusion because of his obsession and in the monster’s loneliness of not having any human company. In fact the loneliness of the monster is one of the driving factors of the terror produced by the monster because it is outraged with Frankenstein not creating a mate for it and that it is not able to assimilate into the human world. Also, because this book deals with science through the creation of Frankenstein it shows a strong romantic ideal.

When we first started doing freewrites this year, I wasn’t quite so sure about how effective they would be. I remember originally thinking that freewriting would be a waste of time, but I am glad that I have been proven wrong. To me, freewriting is more relaxing than a class discussion (I’m in the 90% by the way) because the conversation isn’t dominated by others, it is dominated by you. Freewriting allows me to think more deeply about the topic. Even if I sometimes end up going off on a tangent, I feel like I learn more through my freewrites than I do in some class discussions.

Here are some of my ideas from my freewrite:
The main reason why I think swoons and screams are important is because they add to the mood of the piece. Frankenstein is a romantic piece of literature, but it is also a horror story, and the screams and swoons contribute to the horror. Most people do not scream on a regular basis, but in Frankenstein screams are present in almost every chapter. In some places, the screams send chills down your spine, like when Elizabeth screamed on her wedding night. They also add character and emotions in some cases. For example, when the monster screamed after seeing Frankenstein tear up the female, it makes him seem more human. As can be seen by Walton’s reaction when he first sees the monster, some screams represent the true horror and ghastly appearance of the monster.

How is Frankenstein romantic? Everyone else seemed to have covered most of my points, but I’ll go through my main ones. Frankenstein is a romantic novel primarily because it focuses more on the feelings and emotions of the characters than it does on their thoughts or actions. Again, like most people have mentioned, Nature plays a huge role in the book. While Nature may seem to soothe and relieve some of Frankenstein’s grief, I think it’s more the fact that Nature distracts him. In the end, Nature punishes Frankenstein for his crimes.

My three thesis statements are:
1. As the novel progressed, Frankenstein separated himself from humanity and society, and because he did not keep up with his domestic relationships, his imagination got out of control.
2. Nature acts almost like Frankenstein’s anti-drug in the novel; while it did not relief his grief it tranquilized him, but less and less as the novel progressed.
3. Frankenstein’s grief and shock resulted in the deterioration of his physical and mental well-being by making him feel increasingly guilty and turning him into a haunted wretch.

Similar to the opinions of some of the others who have commented, I must say that I certainly thought freewriting was not the most effective way of expressing, exploring, and consolidating new ideas. But, considering the alternative, which would be to engage in a class discussion, composing a freewrite is definitely a more effectual means of doing so. Of course, those that participate in the class discussion will benefit from it and have done a great deal of exploratory thinking, but will essentially lay all of their work to waste since nothing was documented. Freewrites encourage all students to engage in an intelligible discussion with themselves, while keeping record of it so it can be referred to whenever needed.
Now, with respect to Frankenstein, I noticed a few points that I found extremely interesting and had documented and elaborated upon in my most recent Frankenstein freewrite. The first of these involves one recurring theme and how it relates to Mary Shelley’s perception of her own story. One rather apparent theme that seems to emerge from volumes one, two, and three is the slow destruction of Victor and how that relates to the subtitle of Shelley’s book, “The Modern Prometheus.” Victor Frankenstein’s emotional state is linked very closely to his physical health – after the unjust death of Justine, Victor falls ill with a perpetual fever that lasts for months. At the end of the story, near chapter seven of volume three, Victor has by now been robbed of most, if not all of his immediate family members and friends and is left with nothing except for a little remaining sanity. Similarly, Prometheus one of the many Greek Gods, was punished for his deeds by having his liver eaten out by a vulture every day for eternity, for, as a God, he was immortal.
It seems as if Victor has a similar curse placed upon him. He notices all his family members and friends falling to the monster, one by one, but desperately wants to remove himself from the agony caused by the situation he is in and seems as if he would be willing to die himself. However, this doesn’t happen until the very end of the story.

On freewriting: referencing Rajni's first post, I do believe that freewriting and discussion kind of go hand in hand. However, I feel like some people who can't wait to write everything the class just talked about didn't participate too much themselves, or those who are actively engaged in conversation lag a bit in the writing. (I tend to be one of the latter.) Though the freewriting concept is great, I feel like some students benefit from it a lot more than others...

Anyways! Swoons and screams... I really felt like this was an essential part of Shelley's story. The obnoxiously-repetitive drama was what drew me in. In my freewrite I mentioned how Frankenstein would have lost its captivating momentum (for lack of a better word) if too many chapters of placid happenings and nonviolent reactions came at once. Not that I particularly enjoyed the novel; I just think that the overwhelming emotion was the only thing that kept me turning the pages. Because I have never really experienced something in my life to induce such intense feelings, I was interested in this book: it offered me something that I couldn't fully understand myself. I'm sure other readers must have felt the same way. :/
I would have to say the novel comes across immediately as an anti-Romanticism response. Perhaps I only say this because I remember a certain Romanticism Museum assignment where I researched works that showed romantic themes. I recall the majesty and awe in regard to nature: the irony in Frankenstein is that Nature's power is displayed so destructively! Doctor Frankenstein, while relying on his favorite countryside to lift his spirits, is consistently brought crashing down until his miserable, hellish death.
Lastly, I can say that three self-explanatory themes have remained pretty consistent throughout the book:
1. The role of the female was presented in a very unhealthy/bizarre way, from the absence of the monster's mother to the death of Frankenstein's bride.
2. The scientific, knowledge-seeking ambitions of Doctor Frankenstein drew him away from those that he loved and stimulated the regression that led to his destruction.
3. Death as an alternative to suffering can be favorable to those who value life less and less: both Frankenstein and his monster.
I think all of these contributed to the development of the story not just as a plot and setting, but as characters struggling with their own thoughts in a perverse situation.

I think at first the idea of freewriting seems like a nuisance, because like Grace said - it seems as if your thoughts are already formulated in your mind, and it is a bit of a bothersome task to transfer them to paper. However, I do agree that it does somehow organize these thoughts into coherent ideas that can be more effectively expressed during the discussions that usually take place after a freewrite. And it is true, that if left to itself, our class discussions would include only Mr. Rosenfeld and the several others who are confident enough in their opinions and who feel bothered enough to participate. After a freewrite I feel like my own opinions are more solidified, and thus I am more inclined to share them. And so in the end I'll have to say that I agree that these freewrites are ultimately rather useful and effective.

As for Frankenstein, I'm a bit annoyed that I forgot my writer's notebook in my locker, so I guess I'll talk about the point that I remember most strongly.

One of the major themes in this book is nature’s affect on the human being. We have all these images scattered throughout the book, the wintry outlook from the cliff, the vast, flowing waters – that all contribute to this idea of sublime feelings (one of the three aspects that we talked about and circled in the “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” by Wordsworth). Nature is undisputedly a recurring theme in Frankenstein. For trying to play God and reversing the course of nature bringing to life a monster made from limbs of the dead, Victor Frankenstein condemned himself to be trapped in an isolated world of the unnatural. And as mentioned in a post way up there, there is irony that comes into play in the recurring theme that results from this world that Victor Frankenstein has unwittingly thrown himself into. Each time the repercussions of fiddling with nature (in the form of a grotesque monster) catch up with him and make his life utterly miserable, he becomes ill but finds solace and short-lived comfort in nature, the very entity (if you can call it that) he rudely disregarded while in his crazed state in the earlier chapters of the book. So it is in this cycle that he is haunted by the unnatural, and then finds momentary happiness in the sublime. This pattern is ultimately expired when he finds himself in the stark Arctic, where his beautiful, comforting nature is nowhere to be found.

Like my other classmates, in the beginning of the year, I first thought that freewriting was not a good way to persue ideas. I thought that sitting down for an extended period of time to contemplate ideas were a much better way to understand and get new ideas out of it. As the school year progressed, I realized how valuable freewriting has been to me. Instead of thinking about something for a long time, I wrote brief and concentrated bursts of thoughts, providing much more flow. As a member of the other 90%, instead of actively participating, I wrote a conversation with myself in each of my freewrites. Like Mr. Rosenfeld said, I lose myself in a swirl of thoughts when I freewrite, but I haven't become that adept yet at recording those thoughts on paper. However, I came a long way from the beginning of the year due to the freewrites.

In response to my freewrite about Frankenstein, I wasn't in class on Friday, but I'll try to do one right now based on the criteria. I will actually time this for 10 minutes.

Romanticism, as we learned in history, focused on nature and emotions, and moving away from scientific facts. Swoons and screams are ture examples of emotions; they can only be experienced when there is an overflux of emotion. We can all see the hatred and despair that both Frankenstein and his monster went through because of the monster's creation. Also, nature played an important role in nourishing these emotions. Whenever Frankenstein saw the nature, he thought about how he tainted it by creating the monster. Also, whenever the monster saw nature, he was driven towards more hatred against himself for not fitting in nature. In a way, nature was punishing both of them for creating, which should not be done artificially. This theme also supports Romanticism by describing how the pursuit of science led to the destruction of a man.


My three thesis points were:

1)Nature not only punishes Frankenstein for the infringement of her laws, but she also punishes the monster that he created.
2)Romantic ideals were portrayed not only by swoons and screams, but also by the plot itself.
3)"A sane mind in a sane body" The physical health of Frankenstein directly correlates to his mental health.

First, Mr. Rosenfeld, I’d like to say how much I truly do appreciate freewriting. I feel exactly as you do in that “I usually have so many ideas after engaging in a class discussion that I can’t wait to make sense of them on paper.” Actually, I’d like to allot more time to freewriting (no, I’m not just sucking up) because sometimes I feel like it takes me a little while to orient myself and I have to put in a little effort before I get into that mode of free, unbarred expression (again, I’m not just sucking up).
I think my love for freewriting might just be due to the fact that I am one of the few TJers that have a love for English. Sometimes I feel like I’m at the wrong school. I feel like you got the short end of the stick teaching English at TJ, the class in which TJ students “go through the motions” most often. This, however, is another reason I like freewrites. Not enough of the class enjoys class discussions or takes them as deep as they could go, but in freewrites each person can say whatever they want.
I do believe that TJ kids go through the motions more that “regular” kids, and may not necessarily be the smartest, simply the masters of “school.”

Now, part of me didn’t want to do the rest of this comment. I left my writer’s notebook under my desk in class, after watching Whale Rider (not the first time that’s happened…). I wanted to say that I wasn’t going to do this because it wouldn’t be good enough without any firsthand reference and I didn’t want to just “go through the motions” like some people might do. I wanted to do this justice.
However, I remember fairly well some observations I made while reading this last section that I can tie into areas of Romanticism, the sublime, etc. Plus, I have my book and I can just sort of recreate the ideas I had. I may come back later to do this real justice.
Anyway, my observations were on a quote on page 107, the first few lines of the first legit paragraph. For the sake of any non-classmates that may be reading this without a copy (though I doubt many will read my own comment) I’ll type up the whole thing. Frankenstein says this while traveling with Clerval, descending down the Rhine to England.

“We travelled at the time of the vintage, and heard the song of the labourers, as we glided down the stream. Even I, depressed in mind, and my spirits continually agitated by gloomy feelings, even I was pleased. I lay at the bottom of the boat, and, as I gazed on the cloudless blue sky, I seemed to drink in a tranquility to which I had long been a stranger”

This has an obvious connection to “Wordsworthian” sublime. The beauty and grandeur of the scenery around him transports Victor to this place of peace though he is and has for a long time been wading through a deep sludge of anguish because of the task presented to him by his monster. This sublime connection between Nature and its Man is an extremely Romantic theme. It shows a deep fascination with the human soul and how it can be manipulated by vast, natural forces. It veers away from controversial science but it loves a different kind of discovery, the discovery of self and of one’s environment.
However, I remember reading those articles after the first volume of Frankenstein. The “feminist” article (The Lady and the Monster) said (and it has since been repeated, even in your blog, Mr. R) that Victor Frankenstein had violated the laws set down by nature (who is represented as a woman, an idea which I will return to). Uf-da, that was a lot of parentheses. Anyway, lemme esplain…no there’s too much, let me sum-up. I thought it was odd that, if Frankenstein’s punishment throughout the story is truly given him by Nature and is truly a result of his manipulation of natural boundaries, he would receive such a sublime disillusion of self from Nature. Indeed it is she that is granting him this “tranquility to which [he] has long been a stranger.”
Although, as my eighth grade English teacher may have said, perhaps I am just finding a cap to a marker. The cap fits with the story, but its marker doesn’t necessarily. I am finding one idea and trying to stretch it across the entire story, even though it doesn’t, in reality, work.
Regardless, this sublime bit is a clear indication that this is a Romantic novel. Perhaps Shelley maintained the entire theme of Nature throughout the story but included this simply because she herself was fascinated with Nature and had felt its sublime effects before. After all, much of the story reflects her own views.

Mood: Creative
Listening to: Symphony No. 2, Movement III. Adagio composed by Rachmaninoff

In agreement with what mostly everyone above me have stated, I actually think freewriting is a very good way to jot down ideas and thoughts quickly down on paper. In my opinion, it allows me a chance to express my feelings and write down what I think without having people mock what I say or argue with me. It’s like my own little realm where anything I say goes and no one can complain. I’m usually not one to speak up in class, so I don’t really know how to express my ideas out loud, but with freewriting, I get a chance to write down my ideas and have something to reference in the future when I’m doing an assignment or what not. Also it gives me a chance to note down something important someone else stated in class that I think was important to note for later.

From the freewrite and the class discussion, I noted three thesis statements:
1. Curiosity in the pursuit of knowledge to become one equal to god can lead to the destruction of the seeker.
2. The deterioration of the mind into deep psychological problems can be reflected upon the physical well being of the person.
3. When one is in touch with nature, one is able to release oneself from all their troubles and feel as if they are in a dream away from the troubles of the world around them.

From these three thesis statements, I also devised some ideas as to why swoons and screams matter. Basically, in my writer’s notebook, I stated that scares enhance the horror of the novel to bring the feeling of terror to the readers also. As Mr. Rosenfeld said with the fact that mostly all of us never really experience a truly horrifying event in our lives (although I do think that bugs can cause great terrors… especially when you confront a half a foot long centipede in the bath tub at 3 AM in the morning with nothing to kill it with…). The screams that Shelly incorporated into the book allowed us to feel what a true terror was. One example of such terror was when Victor saw Clerval dead and got convulsions and fainted. This allowed us to experience how it may feel if someone greatly important you suddenly died one day all because you did something in the past. I myself felt a bit of terror when I read this part since I never felt it happen to me before, but even just reading it brought terror to me.

As for relating to romanticism, it was a book written during the romanticism movement hence it incorporated romantic themes similar to other books. The major reason would be that they have great emphasis on accentuating the importance of nature and emotions. In the beginning of the book, Victor was fond of nature and it calmed him down, but by the end, his grasp on nature was lost and humanity and deaths corrupted him. Another factor was that deaths were the cause of science gone wrong, hence this book emphasized the wickedness of technology and need to return to loving nature and natural ways of life, which the romanticism movement was all about.

I feel like in different situations, the freewrite can be a blessing or a curse. I've always liked being able to just sit down with a half-formed thought, and just spill my mind onto the paper. It's a way for me to sit back, look at what ideas or conclusions are worth following, and which I can trash. I often find that I've had what seemed like a perfectly good idea, but it soon gets wrecked by digressions or a lack of any real substance. Other times, I'll come to an epiphany, and with a revived fervor, i'll begin scribbling, trying to get my thoughts out before i forget my brilliant realization. I think that this exercise is a very hit-and-miss sort of thing in that the results for me are mixed, but it mixes things up a bit, giving us something different to do instead of a full blown discussion. One thing I found though, was that when we freewrite before a discussion, it helps me prepare a bit for the discussion, so that I have points that I can bounce off of other participants.

Now for a bit of my thoughts on Frankenstein.

Frankenstein is clearly a Romantic novel for a few reasons. First, with emotion, comes physical effects as well. During times of extreme grief or trauma, the characters become physically sick. I found that, along with Victor Frankenstein, i also saw his father as another prime example. Victor's father dies after hearing of Elizabeth's death, and I found that the description of this moment that Mary Shelley wrote gave one of the greatest swoons of the third volume. She wrote, "Cursed, cursed be the fiend that brought misery on his grey hairs and doomed him to waste in wretchedness! He could not live under the horrors that were accumulated around him; the springs of existence suddenly gave way; he was unable to rise from his bed, and in a few days he died in my arms." This brings the feeling of hopelessness and despair that results from the loss of many of the ones you love. I also feel that the evil side of science was emphasized in this novel. Frankenstein is a slave to his creation in that he was responsible for every evil deed committed by the creature. Every time he'd try to break free of it, the creature would cause him grief in another way and he'd take the brunt of the guilt like a physical blow. The portrayal of science in this way was a characteristic of Romanticism, which brought back a revival of human emotion and fantasy, emphasizing the surreal. The enlightenment, was the complete opposite, in that it glorified human advancements in science.

Freewriting, I've found, has been a good method for a quick brain dump. Just to get some things off of your mind and onto something a little more... stable. That being said, I didn't think that a set amount of time was the best way to encourage a respectable amount of writing; it almost felt like a forced march.
Must... keep... writing... need... A...
I agree with Rajni; this brain-dump is best implemented with a quick, not-too-in-depth discussion about the topics. Perhaps a better way would be to break into groups who wrote about similar ideas so as to solidify opinions and thoughts?
I wrote about the extent to which the swoons and screams were used to express stronger emotions wherever the author thought necessary ('oh, this is an important part! who should I have faint or get strangled?'). A sudden burst of disgust and revulsion and the resulting action of destroying the not-yet-living female creature conveys to the reader the importance of the choice to do this and the extent of Frankenstein's creature's disappointment (I didn't think that it was anger immediately). This same pattern can be observed in Clerval's and Elizabeth's deaths.
Although there was no graphic description of anyone fainting or being throttled at this point, Captain Walton's confrontation with the creature was also a passage worth mentioning; Walton and the creature talk about the story which Frankenstein had told him and the consequences of differing viewpoints.
These 'swoons and screams' empower emotion to carry a more 'heart-felt' part of the story to the reader. One characteristic of Romantic writing is just this: the return to the power of emotion over thought and reason. Although Mr. Rosenfeld's post said otherwise, calling 'Frankenstein' an "anti-romantic novel", I think that this novel does very strongly express some primary characteristics of Romanticism. To sum up how this novel relates to the ideas of Romantic literature, as Mr. Olivander from the Harry Potter series said: science is capable of "great things. Terrible, yes, but great."

Free-writes have always provided me with a method of consolidating my ideas from class activities and assignments; I’ve never really approached them with the intention of learning something new, but rather with the hopes that my free-flowing thoughts would help me in better understanding and fulfilling the goals of the lessons. Take the Frankenstein free-writes as an example. Our highly involved class presentations and four-quadrant charts spurred many discussions and divergent thoughts on story descriptors such as theme, symbols, and the influence of romanticism on Shelley’s writing. Post-discussion free-writing helped me focus on the salient ideas I had acquired and expand on them.
With something like free-writing, I think you either get it right-off, or, if you’re like me, take some time in getting used to the idea of letting go completely and pouring out your instinctive thoughts on paper.

Below, I’ve included a portion of my last Frankenstein free-write.

- The importance of swoons and screams, or strong physical reactions, lies in the fact that Mary Shelley’s intention was to produce a horror story – the strong physical reactions contributed to the terror of the book. It wasn’t a suspenseful sort of terror, but the ‘twisted-ness’ and the general theme of death gives birth to the horror of Frankenstein’s life.

- The main manifestation of Romanticism tat I see in the book is that of the adverse effects that science can have on society. Frankenstein’s monster is the product of scientific progression, but it is ultimately this advancement in science that leads to the destruction of a family and the deaths of several people. Romanticism, besides being a shift towards the importance of nature and unadulterated emotion, was also a shift away from the era of science and intellectualism. By showing that science does not necessarily lead to the welfare of society, Mary Shelley’s novel acted as an ideal representation of the Romantic period.

As Mr. Rosenfeld discussed in the concluding portion of his free-write, Victor is punished in such an ostensibly cruel manner by nature for having violated the laws by which all mankind vows to live.
The main thesis statement I wrote during free-write is derived from this idea:

- The innate curiosity of human beings, along with their desire to be all-powerful (experience the power of God) has the potential to lead to the destruction of society.

I feel like freewriting is only effective for people who are natural writers, and whose ideas always flow smoothly. I'm one of those kids who ends up sitting there twirling a pen, not because I think I'm done, but because I can't figure out what more to write. Nevertheless, freewriting can generate some good ideas, and the more I do it, the better I am likely to get at it.

Below is what I wrote in my notebook about swoons and screams:

Swoons and screams, and other extreme expressions of emotion, are extremely important to this book. A big part of the book is how Frankenstein starts out as a happy, simple and curious person, but due to the creation of the monster, dies completely alone, with all of his family and friends dying before him. These expressions show the reader what Frankenstein is thinking and feeling, and show the transition from happy to utterly destroyed. They draw the reader's attention to the suffering taking place, and influence the emotions of the reader.


I see how Frankenstein can be called an anti-Romanticism work based on the role of Nature, but while I was reading, what caught my interest was how Frankenstein's relationships with the people around him changed. He starts out with very strong familial ties, as well as strong ties to his friend Henry Clerval. When he goes to university, Frankenstein's already present curiosity begins to run rampant, and he loses touch with his family. The result of this break in domestic relationships is the creation of the monster, and as anyone who has read the book knows, his relationships only go downhill from there, seeing as the monster starts killing everyone he loves. Perhaps if Frankenstein had kept up his correspondence with his family better, or Henry had come with him to university like he had wanted to, the monster might never have been created...

Note: I meant to post this yesterday, but unfortunately I didn't notice that I had hit preview instead of post. So now I'm re-writing it late, my bad.

Personally, I think free-writes are alright, but that I fit under the category of people who do what they think is a sufficient amount of work, and then sit there pencil-twirling. English, and languages in general, are not among my best subjects. But nevertheless, I enjoy free-writing...sometimes. I mean, sometimes I just can't think of things to say on the topic, because it might not be a topic that I know much about or am that interested in. Sometimes I think I've said everything I can say, and do not want to go above that. But free-writing is just what it sounds like; it lets you express your own ideas and opinions, and I like that about it. If I was in charge on what to do in English, I would not take this out.

In my last free-write on Frankenstein, I wrote a few reoccurring themes, some swoons and screams, and some of my thoughts about the book.

Some reoccurring themes include the following:
1. Frankenstein is followed by guilt throughout the whole book. The guilt is due to what he has done, ignoring his family for so long and creating a monster, and now what his monster is doing. I think the monster is a physical manifestation of his guilt and errors, and that monster wreaking havoc to mirror the errors Frankenstein made, and create consequences for him.
2. Frankenstein has gone too far into what may be known as "God's realm": he tries to mess with life itself. Frankenstein makes a monster with science, the result of his curiosity and thirst for knowledge. The romantic essence of the book makes this bad, and sets consequences for using science to taint something that belongs to nature.
3. Frankenstein and the Monster share a connection through the whole book. They are similar in a way, also. Both before were innocent, nature-loving, and kind. After they face certain events (creation of the monster for Frankenstein, and trying to fit in with humanity for the Monster), both see the horrible side of humanity. Because of this, both do not enjoy nature anymore, and are tied together to their deaths.

A scream I found interesting, as well as a turning point in the story, is as follows:
"I trembled, and my heart failed within me...A ghastly grin wrinkled his lips as he gazed on me..."
I thought this was a scream because it upon Frankenstein's seeing the monster, he ripped apart the monster's bride that he was creating. Cause and effect, the effect being something that horrified the monster, and caused a cascade of events to happen. This is also why I think this is a turning point in the story, because now, the Monster is thirsty for revenge and after Frankenstein.

Some last thoughts I had on the book were that, first of all, bluntly, Frankenstein is a "huge noob". I mean, he makes a monster and abandons it because he finds it ugly. And then he doesn't expect any consequences for his actions! I believe that the his ending was fitting for him, although sad. I don't feel like the monster or Frankenstein deserved what they got in the end, though; I thought to was too tragic, and that the problem could be solved in a different way.

In my opinion, free writing is a good way to organize, process, and reflect on important points presented in class discussions. Although it’s a bit forced when there’s little to write about. I find it most constructive, as a method to record ideas exchanged in class, as it becomes a useful resource too look back on for assignments. I’m generally most prolific when writing after discussions, since they generate interesting points and ideas. When I write, connections between ideas become clearer and new insights evolve. On broad subjects, or subjects that arouse my interest, sometimes it becomes necessary for me to pause and collect my thoughts before I continue to jot down the train of new ideas that have just popped into my head.
For my free write, I highlighted Frankenstein as a work of Romanticism. Many of the important themes and characteristics of Romantic works are found in this book. One of the more evident ones is nature. Nature, in this book, is often presented powerful vehicle for self-reflection. When Victor reacts to the turmoil resulting from Justine’s death by going out on the lake, passing “many hours upon the water…and gave away to my own miserable reflections.” Pg 78. Later, Victor hopes to ease his sorrows by traveling to Chamounix to witness the magnificent mountains. At this point, he notes that he is “encompassed by a cloud which no beneficial influence can penetrate.” Pg 81. However, the vastness of the mountains consoles him and lightens his woes, until, of course, he encounters the monster.
Another interesting point that I noticed relates to the monster’s revenge on the doctor. Victor starts off surrounded by the warm company of his friends and family, but in the end, he is left utterly alone. It is a fitting punishment from the monster who cursed to be isolated forever because of his hideous nature.

Contrary to many other students' comments about free-writes, I do not think their purpose is to organize thoughts. Rather, it is to write freely (as the title suggests) what comes immediately to the mind when given the prompt.
One issue I have been struggling with while reading -Frankenstein- has been whether to feel sorry for the monster or not. I have had numerous discussions with other students on this question and have found that opinions vary. As for me, I think that the monster, at the beginning of the book before he learned anything, had an excuse for accidentally murdering Frankenstein's brother because he did not know anything about the world around him. And Frankenstein himself is not blameless either since he is the one who was horrified by first impressions of the monster ("don't judge a book by its cover"). The monster did not know that grabbing someone's neck would stop his/her breathing or that grabbing someone's neck was bad at all. But after living "with" the cottagers for such a long time, witnessing their kindness and grace, he learned appropriate behavior for humans and the difference between right and wrong. The monster conveyed to Frankenstein how he was touched by the cottagers and how wonderful he thought they were. Even though he was the epitome of lonely in a world lacking anyone like him, he was intelligent. I think that the monster probably would have been able to think of a less violent way to get what he wanted from Frankenstein besides killing off all his friends and relatives if he had better control of his emotions. But that is what Romanticism is all about: powerful emotions.
As for swoons and screams, Frankenstein's are very repetitive. But I found the monster's "scream" interesting when, upon stalking Frankenstein and leering through a window, he witnesses Frankenstein tear apart his only hope of friendship or companionship left in the world. It is now the monster, not Frankenstein, who feels a sense of utter loss.
Repetitive themes I found in the book was Frankenstein's habit of shrinking from humanity every time the monster came to his mind or vision. The occurrence of the theme in the first volume is quite obvious: Frankenstein shuts himself up alone while creating his original monster, rarely venturing out. In the second volume, Frankenstein and his family go to a resort home where he is happy the first day. But after a foreboding night, he is reminded of the monster again and goes off by himself to the mountains. Finally in volume three, he is hardly seen by friends or family while creating the mate monster, until of course he tears it apart. My second recurring theme is the monster's intelligence. First off, he follows Frankenstein around because he knows his "father"/creator. Secondly, he learns quickly about fire, water, and food from his experience with nature. And in volume three, the monster figures out where he can hurt Frankenstein (a.k.a. whose murder will be the most devastating to Frankenstein and most likely to convince Frankenstein to do what the monster wants). The monster is no dummy and gets more intelligent with every "swoon and scream". The third theme I detected was the death of many women. I will quickly list examples of these occurrences: the death of Frankenstein's mother, the death of Justine, the death of the lady monster, and the death of Elizabeth. All these were very emotional for Frankenstein/the monster, who, in the end, seem uncannily alike. (Sorry, Mr. Rosenfeld. I got confused with days and dates with the field trip.)

For some reason, I thought this was due "On Tuesday", and not "By Tuesday", but somehow I'm not sure what the difference is.

I prefer freewriting to class disscussions, specifically because 10% of the class is having a discussion and the other 90% doesn't have much choice but to watch. Group disscussions are slightly better, but nothing really beats writing about the topic for 10 minutes. I find that, after I jot down my obvious thoughts, there usually are deeper meanings I hadn't seen or questions I couldn't really answer become obvious. It works way better than staring at the questions on a worksheets and waiting for the answers to pop up in my head.
Here is a condensed freewrite:

Frankenstein's swoons and screams are punishment for his act of creation. Nature gets back at him by endlessly putting him through pain. If not, then he is being harrassed by the monster itself.

Romantiscim, as we have learned, is a rejection of previous Enlightenment views of science and pure rationality as good things. In Romanticsim, experiences and emotions are stressed, and Nature plays a big role. Frankenstein fits the description perfectly, but there is more than that. It views Nature as vengeful, willing to hurt Frankenstein for his mistakes. It rewards him when he refuses to make a female for the monster, for the scene right after that he regains his spirits, but the monster itself hurts him.
The recurrence of swoons and screams make this more of a horror story, but the ideas are definitely from the Romantic period.

Contrary to the popular, I would have to disagree with the ideology of the free write sessions we have. I feel as if although they may allow my imagination to wonder without boundaries, they have little success when I am actually sitting down in class. I have to admit though, after reading Mr. Rosenfeld’s post, I can see the ideology that is behind his techniques and I am almost certain it works for most of the students in class.

In my opinion, I think Victor Frankenstein deserves the torment & torture he undergoes. Was creating a monster a legit action, let alone a success? This tie into one of my thesis statements, “Victor portrayed as equivalent to God”. God is the only one who can create and take life out of the creation and by assuming the role of his creator; Victor was summoned to a miserable life with many calamities hitting his way. Verily towards the end of the book, we see this as overwhelming for him---something he just cannot handle. His creation has indirectly killed him. It was because of the monster that he fell sick and health deteriorated. We can see that even though he hopes for better, God ceases to answer his invocations. His mischief on earth and choosing to create a being with such horrid features, gave him an opportunity to realize what a malevolent act he had done and what a detriment he had been to this poor monster’s life. He has caused him so much suffering and sadness and I think that he had a legit reason to kill Victor’s loved ones. His reason can be well-justified because he was abandoned and confused.

A big theme in this book is the power of knowledge and the danger it can cause to the innocent. Because of his arrogant scientific endeavor to create life, Victor got tied up in the ugly fruits of his own work by creating a monster. The creation of the monster itself was a tenet of Romanism, let alone having it have emotions and feelings. Her extreme descriptiveness also adds to the Romantic aspect of the story. Victor experiences strong emotional suffering as the monster itself grows to become a paradox to humanity. Victor’s pursuit of knowledge and eventual creation of a demon, allows himself to do what humans don’t. He is reaching beyond his human limits by taking the role of God. The monster results in the destruction of Victor’s loved ones which gives sufficient evidence to the apparent fact that knowledge is indeed danger when used the wrong way.

I think the free-writes are actually quite helpful in organizing my thoughts. They're more helpful than the class discussions, where sometimes it seams like we're at a graveyard. However, I think the discussions and free-writes work well together. In the free-write, you can respond to and develop opinions on the ideas you heard about in the discussion. Pairing them together like they are is better than either one alone. They definitely help me to condensed and collect my thoughts. I think that another, more important purpose is the generation of ideas, rather than just the organization. Using the comments and inspirations from the discussion, I often find myself writing ideas I hadn't thought of before.

And thats my ramble about free-writing, and here’s part of my free-write itself:

This is a horror story primarily, so screams are an integral part of the plot. With out them, the story would seem dry and boring. Also, they are just plain realistic. I don't know about you, but I would certainly be scared of a monster as the one Frankenstein created. Further, it helps the reader feel the way the characters would in that situation. It adds to the dark mood that is characteristic of Romantic works. (bringing us nicely into the next question)

The primary reason this is a Romantic work is the incredibly dark mood that prevails most of the book. Even in the sections where Frankenstein is happy, and in a sublime (yet another characteristic) mood, he is interrupted from this bliss by the monster. The screams add to this mood, and so does the fact that the ending consists of basically everyone dying. The vivid, beautiful descriptions of nature also identify it as a Romantic work.

Hey, kids! I'm a high school English teacher, and I wanted you to know you all sound great! Cheers!

When it comes to free-writing, I think it's important not to think about organizing your thoughts, but to just let them flow on paper. Then it becomes really easy to go back and look at what you wrote and sometimes it can be extremely surprising to see some of your thoughts on paper. When I did the first few free-writes I too found it hard to write for the entire time. Then I realized that by trying to organize my thoughts, I would start wasting time making sense of something that I hadn't quite made clear in my head yet. But when you write the comments as you think them, you find that you really had more opinions about a piece then you realized, and it becomes hard to write as fast as you think. The beauty about this is once you have all of your thoughts out of your head and down on a piece of paper, you can look back at them and start to make connections to other things you may have noticed. That's why keeping all your free-writes together can be so interesting, so you have something to compare your new thoughts to.

Here is a short summary of one the things my free-write was about:

When it comes to the romantic themes of nature and emotions, I think it is important to remember that much of nature exudes a presence of emotion. What could be more tranquil than sitting on an empty beach watching the sun set into the distance? Whenever someone thinks of that scene, no one thinks angry thoughts(at least not rational people). I think that Mary Shelley kept this in mind as she chose the different settings for the scenes in her book. The forest area seemed to represent a yearning to relax and get away from life. The arctic represented the end of the line for our characters. Can you imagine those settings being flipped for the different scenes? Nope, and I think that proves my point that nature will always evoke feelings of emotion and that is a very important part of the romantic themes of this novel.

The explanation to our free writes was appreciated. Reflecting, i usually paused before scribbling out whatever had popped into my mind in the course of the discussion... Expanding on those ideas in the course of the time period. Sometimes the ideas would flow and i would be disappointed at the end of a free write. But, other times, free writes lasted forever.
What I found most interesting from this particular free write was how easy it was to make the thesis... thesisses... (dictionary.com says that's right but mozilla doesn't agree. what a tricky word). After going through the posters, the organization just popped into place. It was definitely a great way to establish the important or recurring themes.

I teach 5th grade (all subjects). In our state, the first writing assessment occurs during 5th grade (Narrative). I can vaguely remember doing free writes although I cannot remember the class or year of my education. I do remember pencil to paper the entire time, even if you are writing the same word over and over until a new thought pops into your head.

My question is to the instructor or this class... How would you recommend incorporation of free writes into 5th grade? I would also like to know about word splash and the difference between free write and quick write.

I have tried several different techniques through the last few years and I am always looking for new ideas. I have had success with a daily reading summary. I must prepare them for narratives so I also give prompts and turn them loose frequently. I do look at grammar but my goal is the content. I need the "show, don't tell" in student writing. In my experience, students (5th graders) seem to stray from topic (very important) and details. I did not use reading summaries this year because that seemed to be what they were producing for their narratives as well. I need meat in the narrative not a quick short version that leaves out important information.

I have enjoyed reading the post your students sent to you and I would love any feedback you could provide.

Thanks Emmet for encouraging your students to post their comments on the freewrite and to include both sample student and teacher generated writing to a prompt.
To Mr. Rosenfeld's students, I am VERY grateful for your thoughts on how freewriting helps you "see what you think" in writing. I will be using your posts with teachers this summer as they explore for themselves how this kind of Writing to Learn can affect student motivation and engagement in a course and its content. At TJ, I would hope you would expand your writing to think into your other classes - especially the science courses where discovery and inquiry are part of what is being taught. Writer's logs and notebooks are very useful for keeping track of your own original thinking.
In the fifth grade, or any other grade, ask students to write about what they saw, read, or experienced. Emmet gives an excellent introduction to his post that explains where and when he asks his students to stop and write.

I appreciate your perspective on Eduholic: Rosenfeld's Monster. When do you say that copying or using DVD programs is legal or illegal? It is still a good topic for debate as there are no clear laws on it. When you copy a DVD, is it illegal? When you make backup copies of your files by using a DVD Burning Program, is it not allowed? What are the grounds that you think it is illegal or legal?

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