In Shelley's Gothic novel, the title character, Frankenstein, creates a monster, and once he gives it life, it has a mind and heart of its own and there is no way to undo what has been done. Similarly, like Prometheus, Victor Frankenstein used to be rejected by means of presenting 'new life' to 'inanimate' fairy tales, in violation of the laws of nature.
There is a clear parallel between the ambitions of Frankenstein and Prometheus both creating life. Prometheus creates something that is beyond his control. In the myth of Prometheus Plasticator, he shapes humankind from clay and then gives man life. In the Prometheus Pyrphoros myth he takes fire from the gods and brings it to the humans. For this deed, the gods severely punish him by having an eagle pluck out his liver every night. In both these myths, Prometheus creates or gives something that grows into an uncontrollable force. These contributions have such a massive impact that the gain and the destruction are equally colossal. Similar to Prometheus’ fate, Frankenstein is tortured for his ambition which eventually leads to his death.
In the case of the second myth, fire gives light and warmth to its beholder but is also difficult to control and will destroy everything in its path. There are also many references to fire in Frankenstein as light connotes discovery and enlightenment however unlike Prometheus’ gift of fire, Frankenstein’s enlightenment, the secret of life, remains a secret to humanity and therefore never contributes to society.
Shelley borrows from the tale of Prometheus a sense of consequence resulting from seeking enlightenment and power. Victor is her modern incarnation of Prometheus. Prometheus interfered with higher powers even though he does not have the right to do so. He and Victor’s intentions are similar, as they both seeked to obtain knowledge and power. Both Prometheus and Victor are made miserable and suffer harsh consequences for interfering with the forces of nature.
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