It has been commonly accepted that John Milton is acquainted with Dante Alighieri who has a great influence on Milton’s epic Paradise Lost. The significance of The Divine Comedy for Milton lies especially in Dante’s Inferno and Purgatorio. Scholars1 have quoted plentiful echoes of Dante throughout Milton’s works, and have compared these two great poets for centuries. In the 19th century Mary Shelley employed a cluster of images and ideas from Milton’s Paradise Lost (especially from Book Ten) in Frankenstein -- the work that establishes the fame of Mary -- to forge her novelistic world of desire, deterioration, and desperation. Therefore, this novel has been studied many times for Miltonic echoes and influences. In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley defines the relationship between man and nature arisen from the scientific and technological progress with an epic theme of man’s lust, limitation, and punishment. Overall the motif of this novel is an archetypal journey driven by man’s forbidden fire of desire.
Since Dante does have such great influence on Milton from whose work Mary borrows and utilizes as her source of reference, there should be some connection between Dante and Mary. When Victor first sees the monster alive, he describes that
No mortal could support the horror of that countenance. A mummy again endured with animation could not be so hideous aas that wretch. I had gazed on him while unfinished; he was ugly then, but when those muscles and joints were rendered capable of motion, it became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived.2 (51)
Here manifests the first direct reference of Dante in this fiction. This ugliness also explains why the creature’s fire for love is forbidden and impossible. In additi...
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...id, Dante’s Commedia, and Milton’s Paradise Lost.” Comparative Literature Studies 43.1 (2006): 134-152. Web. 23 Jul. 2009
Hustis, Harriet. “Responsible Creativity and the Modernity of Mary Shelley’s Prometheus.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 43.4 (2003): 845-858. Web. JSTOR. 15 May. 2009
Lamb, John B. “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Milton’s Monstrous Myth.” Nineteenth-Century Literature 47.3 (1992): 303-319. Web. JSTOR. 29 Dec. 2013
Punday, Daniel. “Narrative Performance in the Contemporary Monster Story.” The Modern Language Review 97.4 (2002): 803-820. Web. JSTOR. 29 Dec. 2013
Sharp, Michele Turner. “If It Be a Monster Birth: Reading and Literary Property in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” South Atlantic Review 66.4 (2001): 70-93. Print.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus. London: Everyman’s Library, 1992. Print.
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