Comparing Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the Prometheus Myth

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Comparing Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the Prometheus Myth

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is subtitled "The Modern Prometheus", and rightfully so. Prometheus, the Titan of Greek mythology that created man and gave them fire, is a fitting symbol for Victor Frankenstein, the man who created a "monster" and gave him life. The most obvious aspect of the similarity between Frankenstein and the Prometheus myth is the underlying theme - both stories deal with ill-fated actions with tragic consequences. The classic Prometheus stories, as told by Aeschylus, Percy Bysshe Shelley and summarized by Edith Hamilton, contain symbolic and thematic elements that closely parallel Mary Shelley's "modern Prometheus."

Prometheus' creation of man
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Another similarity between the two figures is their intention or goal. Both characters had supposedly good intentions that were tainted through the fulfilment of their cause. Frankenstein believed that, "a new species will bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me"(32). Prometheus insists that his actions had a similar impact- "I risked the bord attempt, and saved mankind / From stark destruction and the road to hell... And in a single word to sum the whole- / All manner of arts men from Prometheus learned." (Aeschylus). In both cases, these ideas, deluded or realistic, were not the actual or only outcome of their "gifts". In Percy Bysshe Shelley's interpretation of the Prometheus myth, Prometheus is faced with the consequences of his gift of fire (and of creating the human race).

...Thy name I will not speak--
It hath become a curse. I see, I see
The wise, the mild, the lofty, and the just,

Some hunted by foul lies from their heart's home,

Some linked to corpses in unwholesome cells;
Some--hear I not the multitude laugh loud?--
Impaled in lingering fire; and mighty realms
Float by my feet, like sea-uprooted isles,
Whose sons are kneaded down in common blood
By the red light of their own burning homes.
(ln. 597-615)

The fire that he has given them is a distorted blessing - it can
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