Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus In Marry Shelly's book Frankenstein, she tells the story of a man named Victor Frankenstein. The character of Frankenstein contains traits that parallel Prometheus from Greek mythology. Through his actions and emotions Victor Frankenstein becomes the modern Prometheus by producing ill-fated actions that carry tragic consequences just as Prometheus' did. Prometheus was a figure in Greek mythology who created the conflict between mankind and the God's. Prometheus one day decided to steal fire from the sun and give it to the people for their advantage. Mankind then had the ability to create tools and weapons.
Prometheus was then punished by the God's and was chained to a rock where he was visited by an eagle that ate from his liver. His liver would regenerate daily so that he never died. Prometheus also supposedly created and animated mankind from clay. He is often referred to as the "plastic ator since he created man from clay".
These two myths were combined to suggest that Prometheus stole the fire and fashioned mankind from clay. Frankenstein and Prometheus were similar in many ways. Their goal was set on good intentions but the means resulted in an undesirable conclusion. Frankenstein believed that his new species would bless him as their creator and source. Prometheus Fate 2 also insisted that he wished to save mankind by giving them gifts.
The gift of fire he gave mankind was not only good but also evil. It was evil in that mankind now has a power he did not have before and that Prometheus was trying to play God. Frankenstein's ability to give life to inanimate objects was good, but it also resulted in evil. After Frankenstein gave life to his monster. ".. the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart (Shelley 35)". He is attempting to play God and created a species even when he cannot create his own parts.
This is similar to Prometheus in that he steals fire from the god's in order to make mankind superior. He also fashions man out of clay using the fire from the sun. He was punished for this by the God's. Another similarity is that of demands that are placed upon Prometheus and Frankenstein. Frankenstein's creation commands Frankenstein to make him a female friend. In Frankenstein's bitterness he destroys his work on the female counterpart and claims that he had been "struck senseless by my creations fiendish threats (Shelley 121).
The creation then punishes Frankenstein by killing Henry Clerval and Elizabeth. This parallels Prometheus in that he had the knowledge of the woman who will one day bear a son for Zeus that would one day dethrone the god. Prometheus is interrogated by one of the messengers of the god. He is threatened because he refuses to answer. Prometheus does not give away his knowledge. Both Frankenstein and Prometheus had enormous requests given to them.
Both held their ground and did not give in to the people demanding their service and knowledge. Both Frankenstein's monster and Prometheus' clay molding of mankind have similarities. Frankenstein's creation was created from existing animal and human parts. Fate 3 Frankenstein did not actually create his own parts. He "dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave (Shelley 33)". He also "tortured the living animal to animate the lifeless clay (33)".
Prometheus supposedly fashioned his creation out of clay. Prometheus had the goddess Athena breath life into them. Both of their methods of giving life to their creation seem impossible and are more so a supernatural happening. Because this is so, they both are faced with punishment for trying to play god. Though there are many similarities between Frankenstein and Prometheus, there is one major difference between the two. Prometheus is not ruined by the consequences of his actions.
He is eventually set free by a sacrifice of a centaur that was willing to die for him. Frankenstein's consequence is seemingly less desirable. His creation jumps off a ship. Frankenstein had become a man whose life revolved around his creation. He dies in search of his creation. Frankenstein's actions were mainly self-centered and there was no sign off good results in his end.
Frankenstein's ambition eventually led to his creation ending its life in complete misery. Prometheus did what he did in pity for mankind and their inabilities. He retains most of his honor in the end unlike Frankenstein who was still seeking out his creation. Both Prometheus and Frankenstein were out for self glorification. Frankenstein more so than Prometheus, but regardless of that the similarity is evident. This may be because the modern Prometheus displays the direction man is heading.
Shelley was showing that mankind's ever-increasing lust for more is causing his pursuits to be in a selfish stance.