In class the other day, we were discussing Frankenstein. This is my first time teaching it, and I really wasn't sure how it was going to go. First, I had never read it when I assigned it to my class. It's just something I've always meant to read, so I picked it.
After committing to it, I got/made the time to read it. The language from 1818 (the original publication date) is a lot harder to wade through than today's. The style of a Romantic author like Mary Shelley involved long, complicated sentences, verbose descriptions, and long-winded conversations. You notice the emphasis on "long?" I wanted to read the book, and I still thought it got off to a slow start. Plus it's not at all what you expect from our modern film-inspired view of Frankenstein.
I didn't start teaching the novel until halfway through the class, and was nervous. Would they read it? Would they discuss it, or would I ask questions and just get a class full of blank stares?
Of course, in a class of more than 20 students, there's was a bit of everything. After 2 weeks of the novel, I had students who still didn't know that Frankenstein was the creator's name—NOT the "monster's." And discussion, particularly at 8:00am on Monday morning, could be a bit slow.
But I've also been pleasantly surprised. A few times, the class discussion get very involved. People had strong opinions about the characters and their actions, and it was really refreshing to take a step back and let the students take over and take over the class.
During one such discussion, a student remarked that the monster was being used as an "escape-goat," and I tried to keep my grin to myself. It made me wonder: how is an escape-goat different from a scapegoat? Does an escape-goat get blamed, but then run away from the situation?