This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel: Essay & Project Ideas

Any time you have a new book tied in to a classic, there are loads of ways to use it in the classroom. Below you’ll find essay prompts and project ideas for Kenneth Oppel’s This Dark Endeavor.


* Much of This Dark Endeavor concerns alchemy and the ways it intersects with modern science. Do some research and find historic examples to support this claim.

* Pick several characteristics of Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and describe how Oppel explains them in his “prequel.”

* In This Dark Endeavor, alchemy is illegal and some characters compare it to evil or trafficking with the devil. Why?

* Explore traits of Victor Frankenstein in This Dark Endeavor, and explore how it foreshadows the man he will become in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. How do his actions in This Dark Endeavor reflect the actions he takes in Frankenstein?

* Compare and contrast the relationship between Victor and Elizabeth in This Dark Endeavor, to their relationship in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. How is it similar/different?

Project ideas:

* Konrad Frankenstein becomes very ill in This Dark Endeavor. What real-life malady is Oppel describing? How is it treated today? What might have been in the treatment given to him by Dr. Murnau?

* Similarly, what properties were in the Elixir of Life that may have actually had some healing power? How are they used today? Make a chart detailing this information.

* One of the ingredients in the Elixir of Life is oil from the head of a coelacanth, a fish thought to be extinct. In both This Dark Endeavor and real life, the fish made a comeback. Research this “Lazarus” fish and make a timeline detailing its origins, alleged demise and comeback, as well as its classification information. Where was it rediscovered? Where had it been hiding? Why was it thought to be extinct?

* Based on descriptions in both This Dark Endeavor and in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, create a map showing the locations where both books take place.

* Oppel makes several references in This Dark Endeavor to Frankenstein and author Mary Shelley’s life. Create a chart detailing these references, and their origins.

For the comments: Any other ideas? Share them below!

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