The Modern Prometheus: The Meaning of the Solitude of Frankenstein


Mary Shelley used her knowledge of Greek mythology to incorporate Prometheus’s myth into her novel, Frankenstein.  The author does create a modern Prometheus in her novel.  Therefore the main character, Victor Frankenstein, is now known as the modern Prometheus.  Shelly uses symbols from the myth to develop Victor and also similarities.

Both Victor and Prometheus, steal from the great above to give to their society. Prometheus steals from the gods, but according to Christian beliefs, Victor steals from God by creating life.  Life is believed to be only given and taken by God and Victor does this to give humans scientific knowledge.

The myth and the novel present symbols such as life, fire, light, and knowledge. In Frankenstein, Victor uses light to create his new life form, which corresponds to the fire he needed for his scientific research.  On the other hand, the myth, Prometheus, the main character steals fire from the gods to give light to the people.  This action allows them to populate and grow, thus creating more life.  Both use light and fire to create and sustain life. In turn, the discovery leads to knowledge.  Victor makes a great discovery by creating life and the people in Prometheus discover new weapons and gain the knowledge of light.  Unfortunately, these symbols lead to their destruction.  Prometheus is punished for life by being tortured by vultures and Victor’s creation ends up killing everyone he loved and cared about.

Finally, it can be said that obsessing over gaining knowledge can lead to our unhappiness because we’ll never be able to appreciate and harness what we know.  It is virtuous that our thirst for knowledge is insatiable, but not to the point that we can’t appreciate what we know and be grateful of our lives now.  Sometimes the mysteries in life should be left as a mystery, that way our curiosity shall flourish and we shall grow into a less hostile society that values current knowledge and peacefully and respectfully searches for new understanding of the world.