After reading the book and examining the major thematic concerns of fate vs. free will, the role and danger of science, the dangers of isolation, and the nature of personal responsibility, Mr. Szilvasy’s Grade 10 Global Studies classes were tasked with which counts to charge the monster: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter, or negligent homicide.
After the trial was set and the charges pressed, students selected roles and worked in groups to create a solid argument for guilty or not guilty, researched in their book and on the history of Massachusetts law, and prepped their witnesses, who had to memorize their roles.
On the day of the “trial,” the girls spent their classes introducing testimony, cross-examining witnesses, and raising complex questions. Did the monster know right from wrong? Was Victor, as his creator/parent, responsible in any way? What makes someone human? The jury then decided the verdict based on the evidence provided.
“Frankenstein serves as a core text for Global Studies all year—it's essential themes about how we treat the Other, the relationship between humanity and the divine, and the potential pitfalls of science and technology really ground the students for what's to come,” explained Szilvasy. “This project doesn't just ask them to engage with these crucial ideas, though, but also forces them to further develop skills critical to the course: argumentation, close reading, oral presentation, and flexible thinking. But of course I hope there's something fun, I hope, in the experience; I can tell that, in the past, it's been a success, because the upper gallery of the Sweeney-Husson Theatre was filled with former students hoping to catch a glimpse of the students. I'm very proud of what these students were able to accomplish this year!”