Prometheus and Frankenstein: Use of the Myth
In what ways and for what ends does Mary Shelley utilise the myth of Prometheus in her novel, Frankenstein?
Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein as a modern day version of the legend of Prometheus. Prometheus created men 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 destroy Prometheus' creation but Prometheus stole fire from heaven to help mankind. Zeus punished Prometheus by chaining him to a rock where an eagle would feed on his liver during the day and each night the liver would grow back. Prometheus was able to bargain for his release because he knew a secret which concerned Zeus' future. Heracles shot the eagle and so Prometheus gained release. Victor Frankenstein is Shelley's modern Prometheus in that he, too, created man. The themes that relate to the myth of Prometheus in the novel are Frankenstein's torment, the monster's education, and the absolute determination of the individual spirit and how this determination can rival that of God. Shelley uses these themes to show that the human spirit is capable of many things - of noble pursuits that rival God himself, but also of the darkest of...
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