Concept of Prometheus Within Frankenstein

The concept of “Prometheus” within Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” Index Introduction – 3 Greek Promethean myth – 4 The Modern Prometheus – 5 Conclusion – 7 Bibliography – 8 Introduction In this short work, it will be made an explanation about what is the Greek Promethean myth and the message behind this myth. It will also be made a comparison between this message and the subjacent theme of the “Modern Prometheus” in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”.
Looking at the main character of Mary Shelley’s novel, it will also be important to describe in what way, and according to the Greek Promethean myth, Victor Frankenstein is the “Modern Prometheus” as referred in the title of the book. Greek Promethean myth The Promethean myth first appeared in the late 8th-century BC Greek epic poet Hesiod’s Theogony. He was a son of the Titan Iapetus, one of the Oceanids (keepers of the water). In Greek mythology, Prometheus is a Titan whose name meant “forethought”, and indeed, he was said to have the ability to look into the future.
Prometheus was the creator of mankind. The goddess Athene taught him architecture, astronomy, mathematics, navigation, medicine, and metallurgy, and he in turn taught them to humans. Zeus, the chief of the Greek gods, became angry at Prometheus for making people powerful by teaching them all these useful skills. He is the younger brother of Atlas, who was banished to Tartarus during the Titanomachy. Prometheus, however, sided with the gods in the war, having foreseen their victory. Helios and Epimetheus also chose to defect.

In doing so, Prometheus also tried to persuade his brother Atlas and their father Iapetus to side with the Olympians, but both of them ignored his attempts. After the Great War, Prometheus fashioned man from clay and helped them, even to the point of severely angering Zeus and, when the gods chose Prometheus as arbiter in a dispute, he fooled the gullible Zeus into picking the worst parts of the sacrificial bull by hiding them under a rich layer of fat. To punish Prometheus, Zeus withheld fire from men. “Let them eat their flesh raw,” he declared.
In response, Prometheus, snuck up to Mount Olympus, lit a torch from the sun, and hid a burning piece of charcoal in a hollow stalk. He slipped away with it and thus delivered fire to mankind. As punishment however, Zeus then chained him to a mountain for an Eagle to peck out his liver only to have it regenerated through the night. Heracles eventually killed the eagle and freed Prometheus, which Zeus allowed as he deemed Prometheus’ suffering sufficient. Modern Prometheus The Modern Prometheus is Mary Shelley’s novel subtitle (though some modern publishings of the work now drop the subtitle, mentioning it only in an introduction).
The term “Modern Prometheus” was actually coined by Immanuel Kant, referring to Benjamin Franklin and his experiments with electricity (this having to do with the way the creature was brought to life). As mentioned before, Prometheus was the Titan who created mankind, a task given to him by Zeus. He was to create a being with clay and water in the image of the gods. Prometheus taught man to hunt, read, and heal their sick, but after he tricked Zeus into accepting poor-quality offerings from humans, Zeus kept fire from mankind. Prometheus took back the fire from Zeus to give to man.
When Zeus discovered this, he sentenced Prometheus to be eternally punished by fixing him to a rock where each day an eagle would peck out his liver, only for the liver to regrow the next day because of his immortality as a god. He was intended to suffer alone for all of eternity, but eventually Heracles (Hercules) released him. The way Prometheus makes man from clay and water is a relevant theme to Frankenstein, as Victor rebels against the laws of nature (how life is naturally made) and as a result is punished by his creation.
The Titan in the Greek mythology of Prometheus parallels Victor Frankenstein. Victor’s work by creating man by new means reflects the same innovative work of the Titan in creating humans. According to the original myth, fire was the one thing that man was not supposed to have because it belonged solely to the Gods, so when Prometheus stole fire for man, it meant that man was trespassing on immortal territory and man suffered because of Prometheus’s gift. While Prometheus had his liver eaten every day, Victor didn’t have an organ ripped violently from his lower torso.
But he did suffer a similar form of prolonged torture: all his loved ones being singled out and killed. He was not punished for stealing fire, but he was punished for trespassing on immortal territory by playing God. Also, fire is associated with goodness and knowledge. Fire is symbolic of human progress as well as the dangers of human invention, or possibly the dangers of nature as opposed to humans, and Victor’s creature is paralleled to fire in the Greek Myth: the creature could be good or bad, depending on how much care you take in approaching it. And in Victor’s case, that would be no care at all.
While fire is good and useful, bringing warmth and the ability to cook, it can also be a weapon, a massively destructive force, if not properly controlled. The monster is the same. He had so much potential for good. He desired to be good, gentle, kind, and loving, but at every turn he was denied. Because of this he became a destructive force bent on the ruin of his maker. Victor Frankenstein is plagued by his creation. He is hunted, haunted, and tormented. The rest of his life becomes a game, a chase between creator and created. Much like Prometheus, Frankenstein suffers greatly for the good he tried to do. However, there are differences.
Fire is an unthinking, unfeeling thing. It need not be taught. It does not require love. Fire did not require anything from Prometheus. The monster, on the other hand, was a being of great depth and feeling. He was capable of growth and good, but his master neglected and abandoned him. Frankenstein should not have abandoned the thing he created. He should have faced what he had done and given it a chance at a better life. There is also an other interpretation for this, perhaps a more plain one. In more recent science fiction, the Promethean myth is applied in the following way: mankind receives technology that is beyond their understanding.
For instance, in the TV show “Stargate”, the first human interstellar ship is called “Prometheus” and it is build with the help of an alien race. This concept can also be applied to the work of Mary Shelley, explaining that men do require time and study to understand things as they truly are. The creature was not bad. It was made bad by men surrounding it. So, it can be said that both Prometheus and Frankenstein successfully created human life and faced results not in line with their expectations. In an attempt to help their creations, both Prometheus and Victor Frankenstein caused more damage and disorder.
This eventually led to the harm of both, either through death or eternal torture. Conclusion As we could see, there are many similarities between the stories of Prometheus and Victor Frankenstein. Both tried to do “bend” the rules, in order to achieve something they believed would be beneficial. But in the end, they both caused more harm than good. Bibliography Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Ed. Susan J. Wolfson. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007 Graves, Robert, The Greek Myths, Moyer Bell Ltd. , 1955. Mellor, Anne K.
Mary Shelley: Her Life, her Fiction, Her Monsters. London: Routledge, 1990 Why is Frankenstein subtitled The Modern Prometheus? , available in http://www. angelfire. com/anime5/frank/Prometheus. html Frankenstein as Prometheus, available in http://cmaree. hubpages. com/hub/Frankenstein-as-Prometheus Analysis on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, available in http://www. articlemyriad. com/analysis-frankenstein-mary-shelley Who was Prometheus? , available in http://www. enotes. com/frankenstein/q-and-a/frankenstein-who-was-prometheus-262555

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