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Frankenstein or the modern prometheus - Essay Example

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This paper seeks to show how Mary Shelley's character Victor Frankenstein, from her novel Frankenstein is another version of Prometheus, a character from Greek mythology…
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Frankenstein or the modern prometheus
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Download file to see previous pages The defiance that Frankenstein displays in the novel, of the natural laws and the divine modes of creation makes him a modern-day Prometheus. This paper shall also seek to show the importance of this analogy to the Romantics. Revolution against established authority was one of the major concerns of the Romantics, who sought to express this concern in their literary creations. Mary Shelley’s own concerns regarding male authority can also be seen in this analogy that is a conscious device within her work. VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN, A MODERN PROMETHEUS Victor Frankenstein, a Modern Prometheus The character of Victor Frankenstein has intrigued critics since the time of the publication of the novel, Frankenstein. Derided by some as a blasphemous character who seeks to appropriate the functions of God and meets his just end by the end of the novel, Frankenstein has also been compared to the mythic character of Prometheus for the defiance that he exhibits by the very act of creation that he commits. By doing so, he challenges the authority of the Christian god, very much like Prometheus, who questions the right of Zeus to withhold knowledge from mankind. Rebellious figures both, Frankenstein goes one step ahead and actually attempts to appropriate the functions and powers that are conventionally associated with God. Modeling a character on Prometheus is part of an ethos that supports revolution and liberty. This was the prevalent ethos amongst the writers who were a part of the Romantic movement in England during the nineteenth century. By explicitly stating the analogy between Frankenstein and Prometheus, Mary Shelley erases any doubt as to the nature of the character of Frankenstein. The use of the figure of Prometheus for revolutionary purposes can be seen in the work of another writer of this period, P.B. Shelley. Mary Shelley’s husband, in his poem Prometheus Unbound portrays his main character Prometheus as a long-suffering revolutionary who finally manages the overthrow of the tyrant Jupiter (Shelley, 2001). The influence of the VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN, A MODERN PROMETHEUS ideas of her husband can definitely be seen in the work of Mary Shelley. Frankenstein, even while he is performing his scientific experiments, is aware of the blasphemous nature of it. When he says, A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me. No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs. (Shelley, 2003, p. 36), he proves that he knows his aspirations: become capable of something that only God was capable of. In an act that would provide mankind with the secret of life and death, Frankenstein is similar to Prometheus who aimed to do something very similar through his theft of fire that enabled man to raise himself above the savage state in which he had existed till then. For their crimes, both the characters are separated from their fellow-beings and are tortured by a providential authority, which seems to be a punishment for transgression. Prometheus undergoes separation from his beloved in a manner that is similar to that of Frankenstein’s misery at the death of the members of his family. A thirst for knowledge and the urge to discover what is new characterizes both Frankenstein and Prometheus. Frankenstein is engaged in the constant pursuit of new experiences and it is only when his torture at the hands of his creature begins that he retracts VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN, A MODERN PROMETHEUS from his policy of acquiring new knowledge. Similarly, Prometheus’s attempts to steal fire are born out of a thirst for knowledge. Apart from this thirst for knowle ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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