Dec. 20, 2012
Frankenstein Playing God as the Modern Prometheus:
“I, the creator… had let loose upon the world… [my] living monument of presumption and rash ignorance.” (Shelley 65) In Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein: the Modern Prometheus, Victor Frankenstein is the modern Prometheus because he played with fire to create life.
Prometheus is the titan who was credited with creating human life. The myths say that he molded them from clay, and then gave them fire which made human life evolve. The fire ended up progressing life and gave them advantages that they would’ve never had before the gift of fire. He was then punished by Zeus because the gods were not supposed to interfere with the mortals’ lives. He was sentenced to spend his immortal life tied to a rock with an eagle eating his liver every day and every day the liver would regenerate.
Victor was like Prometheus in many ways. In fact, Shelley makes a reference to this on the title page of the book. Shelley alludes to Paradise Lost by John Milton quoting the line: “Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay to mould me man…” Victor scavenged charnel houses (communal burial sites) for the tools to create his monster. The creature was malformed probably because of the random body parts used to make him, but he was meant to be beautiful. “His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! — Great God!” (47) When the monster had not come out as Victor hoped, he ran from him and shunned him. Like Prometheus, Victor is punished for his creation by losing his love, family, and life.
The creature felt like Adam, the first man on earth, he feels as if his creator shuns him even though all he wants is to be what he was created for. He strives to be good. He even refers to himself as Frankenstein’s Adam and as his fallen angel. This reference also supports the fact that Victor was also playing God. The two have their similarities. They created the first man out of the clay of the earth, and both their creations felt as if they were being left alone by their creators. However, unlike Adam, who sinned before his creator shunned him, the creature just living brought his creator reason enough to shun him. It wasn’t until after he abandoned his creation that the creature sinned.
Victor wanted to figure out the secrets of life, and as he did he also learned that some secrets should remain secret, like Prometheus. He was referred as the modern Prometheus because he created life and gave fire(life) to that creation. He was playing God as the Modern Prometheus.