The Modern Prometheus: Reworked Myth in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

The Modern Prometheus: Reworked Myth in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

As the subtitle of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein implies, the tragic tale of Victor Frankenstein and his creation takes elements of classical myth and reinterprets them through the advances of "modern" science. Against the backdrop of the Scientific Revolution, Shelley's novel confronts perennial dilemmas that have been dealt with through the medium of myth. Although science and myth often seem at odds with one another, one need only consider that a good deal of ancient storytelling deals with unrealized, often fanciful, human ambitions that have since been realized. For example, the legend of Icarus depicts man's yearning to rule the sky through flight - an ambition that has become reality through the invention of the aircraft. Similarly, Frankenstein fulfills the human desire to create life by artificial means. However, Shelley suggests that such technological progress can have serious moral implications. Although science gives man the ability to fulfill his age-old ambitions, Shelley shows that we should look to the classical myths as precautions against the irrational use of scientific power. Shelley uses the story of Frankenstein,...

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