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Mary Shelley's The Modern Prometheus Or Frankenstein

1199 words - 5 pages

Mary Shelley originally intended to title her novel “The Modern Prometheus”. She ended up changing it to Frankenstein in the second publication. “The Modern Prometheus” was kept as an additional title, but Shelley separated it by “or”. From the start of the novel, the additional title foreshadows Shelley’s connection of Frankenstein to the myth of Prometheus. The many parallels between Mary Shelly’s novel Frankenstein and the Greek creation myth of Prometheus become apparent through both plot and the paternal relationships of the characters in the book.
The myth of Prometheus involved the defiance of Zeus in order to create humanity. This lead to an extreme and prolonged punishment. Prometheus went behind Zeus’ back and created a human race out of clay. He tricked Zeus into getting the bad side of the bargain. This bargain was to give the better parts of the sacrificed animals to Prometheus’ humans and to give the paltry parts to the gods. Prometheus also stole a piece of Zeus’ sun, giving fire to his human race. Zeus became furious by these events and chained Prometheus to a rock on top of a mountain. Zeus condemned Prometheus by dictating that an eagle would come every day for eternity and eat his liver, only to have it grow back over night.
Victor Frankenstein and Prometheus both rebelled against God’s pure process of birth by nature to create their own forms of life. Victor thought that “a new species would bless him as its creator and source”(Shelley 58). Prometheus molded his human race out of his bare hands. Victor “found so astonishing a power placed within his hands”(Shelley 47). This connection in the emphasis of their hands accentuates their similar subversive acts of defiance. In addition to

their similar process of undertakings, they both included part of themselves in their creations. Prometheus implemented this by creating his people through the resemblance of the gods, while Victor unconsciously conveyed his tendencies into the monster. “Similarly, because he rejects his monster, the monster also becomes wretched, helpless, and alone”(Shelley 116). Prometheus is a character of benevolence. He teaches and guides his creations to become successful beings. Adversely, Victor passes his unfavorable and miserable to traits to his creation. Throughout the novel, creation is entangled with punishment.
Prometheus and Frankenstein are linked together through creation and punishment. Both Frankenstein and Prometheus are punished because they do not have respect for the natural delivery process into the world. Victor originally makes the monster to fill the void of people in his life. He ends up losing all the people he holds dear because of his monster. This is ironic because the being he created to fill his void was the murderer of the only people he loved who could fill that hole of loneliness in his life. Similarly, birds eat Prometheus’ liver every day for eternity as a punishment from Zeus. Shelley uses the tale of Prometheus...

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