In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus, Victor Frankenstein struggles against the monster that he creates. Their conflict eventually leads to tragedy for both of them. In the novel, the author provides numerous references to the opposites of fire and ice in the experiences of both Victor and his creation. Mary Shelley associates ice to Victor Frankenstein and fire to the monster to represent their respective underlying character. Initially in the novel, fire is linked to Victor and ice is linked to the monster. Victor starts his story with an affiliation to fire. As a young child, he is impacted greatly by seeing lightning strike a tree. However, he specifically describes seeing a “stream of fire” spurting from the old oak, as though the flames of life are leaving the tree. (Shelley 58) The connection is later revisited while he constructs the abomination, as he works under the light of his “candle”. (Shelley 91) These early references to fire are formative to a young, innocent Victor.
On the other hand, the monster starts with a connection to ice. His body parts come from the “churchyard”, which is painted as a dark “receptacle of bodies deprived of life”. (Shelley 80) “All is cold horror” in this place, according to Andrew Griffin in his analysis of fire and ice in Frankenstein. (Griffin 61) The setting is implied to be frigid, a reference to the ice motif. In addition, dead bodies are often described as frozen, lacking the heat that the living produce.
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The element of fire is universally known to be the sustenance of life, providing mankind with warmth and light. It has been “located in the sky, deep in the earth, in everything that moves, grows, alters its shape, reproduces itself” (Griffin 49). Ice is the antithesis to fire - while fire is life and change, ice is repression and death. The theme of fire and ice is commonly found in literature, often used to compare and contrast certain elements of written works. In the essay, “Fire and Ice in Frankenstein”, Andrew Griffin analyzes the components of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein that contribute to the omnipresent theme of fire and ice in the text. Griffin provides many examples of the recurrent theme found in other works, such as Jane Eyre,
As we look into the novel of frankenstein by author Mary Shelley we see a number of symbols, one in particular was the symbolism of fire. There are many things about fire that makes it very unique in the sense of this story making fire a symbol of destruction, doom and death. We are first introduced to fire later on in the story when the creature makes fire in the woods due to anger.
In the novel, Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, Shelley uses the motif of water and storms, as they represent destruction, to signal tragic events involving fate, a loss of innocent people, and a loss of innocence.
The foil is a person or thing whose traits, by differences and similarities, help to emphasize and enhances the qualities and actions of the protagonist. Many characters, such as Elizabeth Lavenza, Henry Clerval, Robert Walton and Frankenstein’s creature, in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Or, The Modern Prometheus qualify as foils for Victor Frankenstein, the protagonist. However, Frankenstein’s creature is the most effective foil for Victor Frankenstein. The creature’s similarities and differences with Frankenstein along with his actions and traits allow him to be a more effective foil than Walton, and contributes to the meaning and structure of the novel.
There are many extended metaphors used throughout the novel Frankenstein, but one that stands out the most is the use of ‘fire and ice’. This is better known as life and death; fire is life and death is ice. According to Griffin, fire is good and bad, he uses the quote “It shines in Paradise, It burns in hell” to support his claim (Fire). Griffin used fire is good and bad for his thesis and many quotes for his support such as the one above. To relate Frankenstein to fire and ice, Griffin talks about how the novel starts off with Walton’s dream to reach a tropical paradise at the North Pole, which has to deal with hot and cold.
BETWEEN “ETERNAL LIGHT” AND “DARKNESS AND DISTANCE” AS MAIN SYMBOLS IN MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN, OR THE MODERN PROMETHEUS
Frankenstein has multiple mythological stand points behind it. According to research, Victor Frankenstein was compared to Prometheus, a Romantic Promethean hero. Frankenstein is also known as The Modern Prometheus, tying the two characters together. Prometheus was a famous Titan. He was created in the form of fire and was known for bringing mankind enlightenment and knowledge.
Similar with human history, the finding of fire is the first step of the creature’s learning. In the beginning of Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein, the scientist who applies what he has studied, conjoins different
It is pertinent throughout the story with the setting and the characters. Ice in contrast to fire is cold and revengeful opposing life and change. The setting in the novel begins and ends with ice to foreshadow the discomfort to come and inevitably Victor Frankenstein's death. It is appropriate that the novel ends in ice because ice opposes life itself not wanting to comfort but to destroy . Similar to ice the creation turns remorseless after being rejected from society
With hundreds of thousands of songs, books, movies, and art dedicated to this one emotion, there is plenty of evidence that when it comes to human interaction love is an extremely powerful emotion that can have a transforming effect. In contrast, a lack of love can also have effects, especially dire or negative ones for those who are in need. Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus is a main character who cherishes himself, his own pride, and has grand plans in mind for his legacy, all of which could possibly have positive results, but do not feature a plan or a personality ripe with love. In contrast, Goethe’s Faust also features a character who is strong-willed and very smart, but without a strong sense of love for others in his life, he also faces negative results. Both works could
Many scientific discoveries have been made that better society, however, the pursuit of knowledge has the potential to come with a great price. Lord Byron’s “Prometheus” alludes to the Greek myth of the titan Prometheus who was sentenced to a life of torture simply because he gave mankind fire in order for them to become educated and obtain light. Mary Shelly, a close friend of Lord Byron’s, wrote Frankenstein which also centers around the same concept, that the discovery of experimental knowledge can come at a terrific price. Lord Byron’s “Prometheus” parallels yet contrasts the educational themes and biblical allusions in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein.
After reviewing and analyzing both the story of Prometheus and that of Frankenstein, I have found that I believe there is a profound connection between the two. I understand Mary Shelley’s purpose behind making Modern Prometheus the subtitle for Frankenstein. In the story of Prometheus, he was punished by Zeus because he stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind. This is a parallel to how Dr. Frankenstein gave the reality of resurrection to the world. In both stories, humans were subjected to situations not meant for them to experience.
The presence of fire in the text symbolizes the title of Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein: or The Modern Prometheus (Dudczak). Frankenstein’s monster can be related to the Greek god Prometheus as how Prometheus gave the knowledge of fire to mankind and was then received severe consequences for it. Victor “The world to me was a secret, which I desired to discover; to her it was a vacancy, which she sought to people with imaginations of her own (Shelley, 43).” Victor became a modern Prometheus but in the way that his “gift” to mankind is the awareness of the secret of life and how this secret remains a secret. Victor Frankenstein does not care for the creature, the way Prometheus cared for man. Victor instead, takes an interest in giving the secret of life to humanity, but instead receives harsh punishment as an end of his experiment: the
In Frankenstein, light symbolizes knowledge, discovery, and enlightenment. The natural world is a place of dark secrets, hidden passages, and unknown mechanisms; the goal of the scientist is then to reach light. The dangerous and more powerful cousin of light is fire. The monster’s first experience with a still-smoldering flame reveals the dual nature of fire: he discovers excitedly that it creates light in the darkness of the night, but also that it harms him when he touches it. In the Kabbalah, light and fire stand for power and knowledge as well. The suit of the Wands is ruled by the element fire and stand for energy, perception, intuition and activity. All these qualities have been displayed the two major characters in the book- Victor and his Monster. While the Monster is a grotesque creature, he does have a lot of intuitive power and the capability to understand and
“Where did I go wrong? I lost a friend. Somewhere along in the bitterness.” - How To Save A Life The Fray. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel written by English author Mary Shelley dating back to 1818. In this story, we follow Victor Frankenstein, a curious and lonely scientist constructs a being out of disposed body parts, and the repercussions that follow. When following along this story, clearly distinguished value theories of philosophers like Aristotle, Epicurus and Mill can be seen amongst the characters in the book. Following the 1818 story introduces many pieces from feminist writers whose themes can be applied to the novel as well. Through the means of metaphysics, epistemology, and the scientists aesthetics for his creation, we can thoroughly evaluate these well-known philosophers values are executed.