Frankenstein: The Myth of Prometheus in Mary Shelley’s

Frankenstein: The Myth of Prometheus in Mary Shelley’s

Mary Shelley composed Frankenstein as a modern day version of the legend of Prometheus. Prometheus created males out of clay and taught them the “arts of civilisation” (Webster’s World Encyclopedia CD-ROM 1999). Zeus, the chief god of the Titans, wanted to ruin Prometheus’ development but Prometheus stole fire from paradise to help mankind. Zeus punished Prometheus by chaining him to a rock where an eagle would feed upon his liver during the day and each night the liver would grow back. Prometheus had the ability to plan on his release because he understood a secret which worried Zeus’ future.

Heracles shot the eagle therefore Prometheus acquired release. Victor Frankenstein is Shelley’s modern Prometheus in that he, too, created guy. The styles that relate to the misconception of Prometheus in the book are Frankenstein’s torment, the monster’s education, and the outright decision of the private spirit and how this determination can rival that of God. Shelley uses these themes to show that the human spirit is capable of numerous things– of worthy pursuits that measure up to God himself, but likewise of the darkest of actions that draw comparisons with the acts of Satan.

Victor Frankenstein remains in the first part of the book referred to as an extremely noble person, with human interests while not typical to most people are nevertheless regular. Our sympathy is completely with him. His desire for knowledge and his passion to accomplish high objectives and to bring the human race even more in its effort to remove the discomforts and sufferings of death only make him appear more exceptional. He appears to commit his whole life to the advantage of mankind. The sea captain, Walton, summarize this impression when he states” How can I see so honorable an animal destroyed …? He is so gentle, yet so wise; his mind is so cultivated …” (Shelley, p. 14).

Even in Chapter 3 when he is talking to his teachers about Paracelsus and his studies of the alchemists (pp. 35– 39) just lend credence that his ambitions remain in no way self inspired. By the next chapter he is totally taken in by his aspiration. He no longer sees the appeals of nature and turns his back on the goodness and pureness of life, which is symbolised by nature (and is, like the style of the person, an important theme in Romanticism), “My cheek had actually grown pale with research study, and my individual had actually ended up being emaciated with confinement” (p. 44) and” The summer season passed while I was thus engaged, heart and soul, in one pursuit … my eyes were insensible to the beauties of nature” (p. 45).

Frankenstein is characterised as the modern-day Prometheus in the subtitle of his novel however Prometheus brought fire and light (civilisation) to his development and in doing so, turned his back versus the gods. He suffered for his sacrifice by being chained to a rock and had his liver eaten by an eagle. For Prometheus and his creation fire was a blessing and allowed humanity to develop and break free of the gods. Like Prometheus, Frankenstein “steals from paradise in trying to Œpour a gush of light into our dark world'” (Shelley in Boyd 1984, p. 24) and is penalized due to the fact that of his actions. Shelley also contrasts Frankenstein with the Promethean misconception. Her Prometheus brings only suffering into the world, his development suffers, his family suffers and eventually, he suffers. Frankenstein’s ambition overtakes him as he nears the conclusion of his experiment.

He does not have the power to stop his function and to ruin the labour for which he has worked so long and hard and from this persistent act of will he sets in motion the chain of occasions that will absolutely destroy whatever he holds precious. While Prometheus has the ability to leave his penalty Frankenstein can not. The beast was to Frankenstein what the eagle was to Prometheus for as Frankenstein abandoned his beast and reintegrated with society and nature the beast would swoop to eat his liver by, in many cases, eliminating those near him. This is seen in William’s (Frankenstein’s bro) murder at the hands of the monster (Chapter 7), his encounter with the monster in the French alps (Chapter 10), the murder by the beast of his buddy, Clerval (Chapter 21) and the murder, again by the monster, of his bride (Chapter 23) where all these events are preceded by Frankenstein discovering some degree of serenity.

The monster’s education likewise bears resemblance to Prometheus. However, Prometheus himself educates his development– civilising them and bringing them enlightenment whereas Frankenstein turns his creation away and is so shocked by its appearance that he disregards all of his duties. He releases his production totally unknowing into society. We see in Chapter 12 that the beast finds out language by observing the De Lacey household communicating. What is likewise apparent in this chapter is the monster’s benevolence. The monster appreciates and concerns love the De Laceys which can be seen in his reference to them as “my cottagers” (Shelley, p. 112).

While he feels an attachment to the household he feels that were he to reveal himself to them he would not be gotten well. But hoping in vein, he shows himself to the blind daddy who receives him warmly. It is just when the kids return and drive him from the house that the monster understands that individuals can not (or will not) conquer their worry of the unidentified. This education is important in how Frankenstein connects to Prometheus due to the fact that in the same way that Prometheus’ production became educated (civilised) and became self conscious so to does the beast realised, not just of who he is, however who mankind is.

Hubris was utilized by classical Greek writers to describe somebody who is extremely big-headed in their pride, particularly in defiance of the gods. The character of Frankenstein struggled with hubris since he thought that he could develop life the method God produced life. What he did not picture was that he would create a ghastly looking abomination that he regretted and abandoned. Frankenstein’s arrogance and stubbornness cause the development of the monster and while he can be compared to Prometheus in that he produced life he shows little resemblance to the kindly benefactor that Prometheus was. Frankenstein’s suffering is Promethean like in that he suffered due to the fact that he dared to defy the gods however unlike Prometheus, the only escape that he might discover form his abuse was death. It is ironic that the beast is initially kindly and excellent natured till the corruption of humankind permeates into his heart and he lastly happens the beast that he is viewed as.

List of Referrals:

Webster’s World Encyclopedia 1999 CD-ROM, Webster Publishing, Frenchs Forest
Shelley, M., Frankenstein, Aerie, USA
Boyd, S., 1984 York notes on Frankenstein, Longman Group, Essex


Webster’s World Encyclopedia 1999 CD-ROM, Webster Publishing, Frenchs Forest
Shelley, M., Frankenstein, Aerie, U.S.A.
Boyd, S., 1984 York notes on Frankenstein, Longman Group, Essex
Griffith University Faculty 1999, Romanticism And Modern Culture Research Study Guide, Griffith University
Griffith University Professors 1999, Romanticism And Modern Culture Readings Pamphlet, Griffith University

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