Essay about Frankenstein, the Modern Prometheus?

1373 WordsApr 19, 20056 Pages
FRANKENSTEIN, THE MODERN PROMETHEUS? In order to illustrate the main theme of her novel "Frankenstein", Mary Shelly draws strongly on the myth of Prometheus, as the subtitle The Modern Prometheus indicates. Maurice Hindle, in his critical study of the novel, suggests, "the primary theme of Frankenstein is what happens to human sympathies and relationships when men seek obsessively to satisfy their Promethean longings to "conquer the unknown" - supposedly in the service of their fellow-humans". This assertion is discussed by first describing the Promethean connection. Thereafter, the two forms of the myth, Prometheus the fire-stealer and Prometheus the life-giver are reviewed in the context of Shelly's use of the myth in her novel…show more content…
As Frankenstein instructs Walter : "Learn from me…. how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow" (page 31). In Frankenstein. it can be seen that Shelly uses the myth of Prometheus the fire-stealer as an analogy for scientific knowledge, and that the "fire" of scientific knowledge can be used both for constructive and destructive means. Prometheus stole the fire for altruistic reasons, to help human beings. Similarly, Mary Shelley's arrogant scientist, Victor Frankenstein pursued his studies with the aim of banishing disease and a desire to "render man invulnerable to any but a violent death" (page 22) and claimed "A new species would bless me as its creator and source." (page 32). However, it is really ambition that drives him "like a hurricane" (page 32) as he engineers the Monster. It is not until the Monster opens its eyes and Frankenstein realises that it is not the thing of beauty he hoped to create that "breathless horror and disgust" (page 34) fills his heart and sends him rushing out of the room with no thought for what he has unleashed upon the world. Victor Frankenstein can indeed be seen as the modern Prometheus, by defying the gods and creating life, Victor puts himself in God's place and becomes
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