The Modern Prometheus Essay Research Paper Did

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The Modern Prometheus Essay, Research Paper Did Mary Shelley initially title her work about Victor Frankenstein and his creation The Modern Prometheus solely because of the glaring similarities between their stories? That is a question that is often discussed, but a conclusion rarely arrives. One of the possible reasons for this could be because there are many different interpretations of the Promethean myth, which are mainly based on the ambiguous nature of the story. The parallels between the Promethean myth and Frankenstein are obvious, and that, in combination with her subtitle, The Modern Prometheus, indicates that Mary Shelley did have the myth in mind as she wrote the story. One perception of Prometheus’ actions views him as a hero: the creator of man, the giver of

knowledge, one who is self-sacrificing for the good of others. Meanwhile, there is another perception of Prometheus’ actions, which is almost the complete opposite of “Prometheus the Hero.” That is the view that Prometheus was more the “usurper of their [the Gods'] powers” (Smith, p. 1) than a hero. It is the two contrasting views of the Prometheus myth that makes its connection to Frankenstein so intriguing. Frankenstein also has a duality in how its story is perceived. Was Victor Frankenstein the archetype of the Promethean hero, or was he the usurper of divine power? Although there are direct parallels between Victor Frankenstein’s story and that of Prometheus, there are many differences that contribute to why Frankenstein was subtitled The Modern Prometheus. In

following the pattern of a well-known Greek myth, with the addition of her own changes, Shelley makes it clear that Victor Frankenstein is more the usurper of divine power, as opposed to being an archetype of a Promethean hero. That is why she uses MODERN in the subtitle. It is because of the difference between the modern values of Frankenstein and those of the Promethean myth that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is subtitled The Modern Prometheus. The ambiguity of the myth of Prometheus lies in its interpretation. The Greek myth surrounds the creation of man and the part Prometheus played in it. Prometheus (meaning forethought) and his brother, Epimetheus (meaning afterthought), were given certain tasks by Zeus after they fought on Zeus’ side in the war with the Titans. As a

reward for their loyalty, Zeus gave Epimetheus the responsibility of creating the animals and distributing their qualities, for example, strength, speed, and stamina. Prometheus, on the other hand, was given the task of creating man. Prometheus molded man out of clay, giving them the ability to walk upright so that they could be closer to the heavens and the Gods. Since Epimetheus was extremely rash in his dispersion of the traits and qualities to the animals, when it came time for Prometheus to give some to man, there were none left. So, Prometheus gave man fire, and taught him how to grow food, and how to make objects, such as tools. Zeus then asked Prometheus to give him the part of a sacrificial ox that he deemed worthy for the Gods, which would leave the rest for man.

Prometheus tricked Zeus into picking the most undesirable part of the ox, and in anger, Zeus reclaimed the fire that man once possessed. Prometheus then stole the fire back, by lighting a torch from the sun. As punishment, Zeus had Prometheus chained to a rock on the top of a mountain where an eagle fed on his liver, which regenerated daily. In the creation of “man,” there is an obvious comparison between Victor Frankenstein and Prometheus. It is the idea that both give life to inanimate materials. Frankenstein animates a figure made up of body parts that have been dead and buried, and Prometheus animates clay from the ground. It is this creation and animation of life, from something that had previously had none, that makes the most obvious and straightforward parallel