Mary Shelley's The Modern Prometheus or Frankenstein Essay

Mary Shelley's The Modern Prometheus or Frankenstein Essay

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Mary Shelley originally intended to title her novel “The Modern Prometheus”. She ended up changing it to Frankenstein in the second publication. “The Modern Prometheus” was kept as an additional title, but Shelley separated it by “or”. From the start of the novel, the additional title foreshadows Shelley’s connection of Frankenstein to the myth of Prometheus. The many parallels between Mary Shelly’s novel Frankenstein and the Greek creation myth of Prometheus become apparent through both plot and the paternal relationships of the characters in the book.
The myth of Prometheus involved the defiance of Zeus in order to create humanity. This lead to an extreme and prolonged punishment. Prometheus went behind Zeus’ back and created a human race out of clay. He tricked Zeus into getting the bad side of the bargain. This bargain was to give the better parts of the sacrificed animals to Prometheus’ humans and to give the paltry parts to the gods. Prometheus also stole a piece of Zeus’ sun, giving fire to his human race. Zeus became furious by these events and chained Prometheus to a rock on top of a mountain. Zeus condemned Prometheus by dictating that an eagle would come every day for eternity and eat his liver, only to have it grow back over night.
Victor Frankenstein and Prometheus both rebelled against God’s pure process of birth by nature to create their own forms of life. Victor thought that “a new species would bless him as its creator and source”(Shelley 58). Prometheus molded his human race out of his bare hands. Victor “found so astonishing a power placed within his hands”(Shelley 47). This connection in the emphasis of their hands accentuates their similar subversive acts of defiance. In addition to

their similar process...


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...Hercules had a similar impact on Prometheus. Prometheus was sentenced to punishment forever, but eventually Hercules freed him from imprisonment. Although both Prometheus and Victor lived with unending and constant pain, they were mentally and physically freed from their chains.
Victor Frankenstein and the Greek myth of Prometheus are revealed as each other's counterpart through the novel’s events and character’s relationships. Through their creations, Victor Frankenstein and Prometheus both experienced eternal pain as punishment to their acts of rebellion against nature. Victor’s monster turned against him and killed everyone he loved causing him eternal pain. Similarly, Zeus punished Prometheus by chaining him to a rock to have a bird eat out his liver for eternity. Both characters experienced unending pain connecting them to the very root of their existence.

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