Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is not just a gothic novel that was introduced to the world during the romantic period but brought about the ideas of science and emotions all wrapped into one.
1.Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is not just a gothic novel that was introduced to the world during the romantic period but brought about the ideas of science and emotions all wrapped into one. Frankenstein also known as The Modern Prometheus, alluded to other literary works and myths to depict a story that humanity wasn’t ready to hear. Mary Shelley used the myth of the God Prometheus to introduce and connect the actions/personality of her character Victor Frankenstein.
Prometheus was a God who stole the sacred fire from Mount Olympus to gift humanity “fire and hope” while betraying his fellow Gods in the progress. He can be viewed in comparison to Dr.Frankenstein, because both were fascinated with the idea of electricity and fire for different reasons. These reasons led to their actions that made them both controversial characters acting according to their own ambitions. Prometheus and Frankenstein thought by building a creature (advancing science) and stealing fire (gifting to humans), were selfless acts that were harmless but and intended to help humanity but was that really the case? Let me know what you think in the comments.
“Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me man? Did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me?—-”
This quote from Paradise Lost mentioned in Shelley’s epigraph of Frankenstein bests represents the main conflict of the plot. “Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay To mould me man?” the answer in the creature’s case would be no. Victor Frankenstein thought he could seek the answers to “life and death” through creating a creature without thinking of the repercussions. Resulting in disappointment, this quote spoken my Adam in Paradise Lost also depicts Victor’s relationship with the creature when he becomes self-aware.
The creature questions Victor’s intentions to bring him to life because, only after Victor’s experiment works is a success he hates the creature for it. Was it not Victor who gave the creature life? Was it not God who created Adam? Why are these moral characters not considering the effect before the cause. These characters questions their existence only to be detested by their creators. Adam and the creature should be considered antagonists because of their actions but they only end up pitiful and sympathetic.
2. Prometheus, or the ancient day Satan, is the story of a Titan god who stole fire from the gods and gave it to man. The fire is a metaphor for progress and science. The metaphorical value of this tale is so clear and apparent that two-bit hacks have been referencing it in the intervening centuries, in the hopes of making their works sound more profound. Haha, this character stole a fire! Like Prometheus! I am a good writer!
I’m glad to report that Mary Shelley does not fall into this category. Frankenstein carries on the evolution of the Promethean myth by increasing the complexities of the story and themes in line with the increasing complexity of society. Just as Milton created a contemporary revival of Epic Poetry, wherein he reveled in the trappings of the genre but added layers of meaning to what was in ancient times a straightforward type of story, Mary Shelley pulls a similar maneuver wherein she takes the tale of Prometheus and adds nuance to what was in ancient times a simple foundational myth.
For Shelley to use an epigraph from Milton is not only narratively consistent within the story, but also meta-contextually significant in historical view as a continuation of the metaphorical idea of ‘stealing fire from the gods’; gods being the ancient writers, and Milton and Shelley playing the roles of Prometheuses (Prometheii?): taking the good yet stagnant works of “the old guard” and bringing it to the masses in a way they (the masses) can use and relate to.
Just as Milton hits upon the then contemporary anxieties about the future of monarchy, religion, and societal order, Shelley confronts the fears associated with rapid modernization and technological progress. Frankenstein is likely the first documented case of “we were so preoccupied with whether we could, we never stopped to ask if we should” in the modern sense.
2.This parallel is made doubly clear when we consider the plot and themes of Jurassic Park. The Prometheans (scientists) find an ancient fire (DNA) and attempt to steal it for themselves (revive the dinosaurs). Just as Prometheus was punished for his transgression and hubris, so too were Satan, Frankenstein, and the scientists involved in the revival of the dinosaurs.
For Spielberg, instead of adding even further layers of theming and complexity, he instead chose to innovate in a completely different dimension. Shelley wrote on the apprehensions of her time regarding the natural sciences, the powers of life and death, the technology outpacing the man, but Spielberg’s film doesn’t just write about these things, it shows us.
The special effects of Jurassic Park were absolutely groundbreaking at the time, to the point where it still looks amazing 30 years later. While the script reflected the fears of technologies like CRISPR, gene modification, and so on, the film itself uses the very same groundbreaking technologies (not the genetic tech, computer tech) to show us the chilling possibilities of a world where what we see on the screen is not just pretend, but completely fake, even though it looks real. This prescience is more relevant than ever with the indefatigable march of even newer technologies like deepfakes and ai-generated audio.
To conclude, if one were to tell me that Jurassic Park is one’s favorite movie, they should be aware that it follows in the footsteps of our long human history of questioning ourselves, our tools, and our futures. From Prometheus and other various foundational myths, to revolutions in art and science, to exponential advancement of daily technology, we humans have long been worried about ‘what comes next.’ Yet, despite this proud heritage of introspection, I still believe that Robocop is the best film ever made and am willing to engage in a formal national televised debate with anyone who would argue otherwise.
3. Prometheus is the creator of mankind, he formed the first men out of clay from the earth. He relates to the story of Frankenstein because they both contribute to creating life. He creates the building blocks for life for humans. They both faced consequences of rebirth and in some ways can relate to one another in many ways. Shelley connects her work of Frankeinstein to Milton’s Paradise Lost and with this they connect it by playing god by creating man, having or not having the chance of redemption etc.
Frankenstein uses a quote stating “like the archangel who aspired to omnipotence, I am chained in an eternal hell’ this quote connects both of the works because Frankenstein is talking about eternal hell and with this we know from our reading of paradise lost that Satan belongs to hell because he is the devil so Frankenstein would say that he compares himself to Satan. He goes from light to darkness and gets expelled from human society.
The quote used as the epigraph of the novel states that we should associate frankenstein with god and associate the monster with Adam and with this frankenstein assumes the role of god and the man he creates is the monster. Frankenstein has sinned against his own creator which is god by creating a living monster with raw materials and human body parts, and as punishment, Frankenstein loses his paradise, just as Adam in Paradise Lost is expelled from the Garden of Eden for defying God’s word.
We can also include that when Frankenstein compares himself to Satan he states “the fallen angel becomes a malignant devil” which explains to us that he was once a good person but later on turns evil. He starts to commit acts of aggression around him and with this includes the statement “Satan’s ‘Evil, be thou my Good”.