Prometheus and Frankenstein

The tale of Prometheus and the tale of Frankenstein (both Victor and his monster) are stories that mirror each other in such a way that it serves to be a cautionary tale to those who read it. First reading the novel, I was not interested with it. The poetic way of speaking, the Gothic background, and the angst didn’t really connect with me. If anything, I grew bored and weary of a novel that seemed to go on and on. However, as I had revisited this book year or two later, I grew to respect it as novel that managed to give an insight towards a century where science was still a budding practice, and was regarded as craft going against God. Make no mistake, I still dislike it.

However, as earlier stated, there is parallelism between the Greek myth of Prometheus, and that of Mary Shelley’s book. When the Olympians had fought against the Titans, and had won, they had banished the primordial beings into the depths of Tartarus (which equates to the Christian Hell). The only two Titans spared from being imprisoned in Tartarus were Prometheus and Epimetheus due to them not participating in the battle. Therefore, they were charged in creating man and the creatures that walk on this Earth. Prometheus shaped man out of mud, and with the aid of Athena who breathed into them.

While Prometheus created man, Epimetheus was charged with creating the animals. As he distributed the qualities that would aid the animals, but by the time he got to man, Epimetheus had given away all of the good qualities, and left none for man. So, in the end, Prometheus decided to make man stand upright like the gods, and to give them fire.

Upon further analysis and research, I found that Prometheus was considered the wisest of all the Titans. He was credited into giving humanity knowledge, and enlightenment in the form of fire.

Mary Shelley’s novel was influenced by this myth. What I felt that she was attempting to convey was the fact that consequences can come alongside with seeking knowledge, and enlightenment. So to speak, Victor is Shelley’s Prometheus. Like Prometheus, he is entranced by the power that he could bestow upon lower beings, and became captivated. It seems that in the way that the stories are written that power equates to the suffering of the protagonist.

The inner torture that Victor subjects himself to mirrors that of Prometheus, undying and eternal. Mary Shelley focusses on the argument that punishment stems from creation. I feel that these two concepts are intertwined, and inseparable. One cannot have one without the other.

However, one could argue that Victor emulates both Zeus and Prometheus. Whilst he mirrors the pain that Prometheus feels, although it is emotional, Victor uses negative language, which is contradictive to a Promethean view of creation and his line of thinking is more of akin to Zeus who attempted to keep mankind powerless. Prometheus gifted mankind fire out of sympathy and fondness, and yet, Victor lacked any sympathy for the Monster. Victor’s imitation of both Zeus and Prometheus displays that creation and punishment are inseparable, and can be a result of each other.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 thoughts on “Prometheus and Frankenstein

  1. Bryna,
    Even though we did have a class discussion about this in class, I felt that you managed to go more in-depth with this piece, explaining more about Prometheus’s character and back story that paralleled with the character of Frankenstein. I liked how you compared Frankenstein with both Prometheus and Zeus, which was interesting as I had never really of him in that way. This perspective was very interesting and gave me another way to look at Frankenstein’s character. I always appreciate it whenever someone puts in background information for the reader’s sake, and you did just that, explaining the Prometheus myth and explaining some of the various places in Greek mythology, such as Tartarus.
    Your main argument in this piece was that Frankenstein’s character compared to that of Prometheus. However, one could easily say that the monster could also be likened to Prometheus, I think that you could have made the piece stronger by bringing up the similarities between the monster and Prometheus, or perhaps saying why you believe that the monster isn’t meant to be the ‘modern Prometheus.’
    Overall, I found this to be a very insightful piece that gave me a better understanding of the parallelism between Frankenstein and Prometheus.
    – Genevieve

  2. Dear Bryna,

    I feel you!!!!
    Even when we read Frankenstein last year, I was never really into it. I read the book because I was told to, but I read it begrudgingly and with little interest; I read it for the sake of the novel study.

    I think I might have been absent the day your group did their Socratic, and thanks to this blog, I was able to understand it much better than I did before (basically I know little to nothing about the story of Prometheus).
    Even with my little to no knowledge, I find your research to be quite thorough and insightful and you made good connections to the text of Frankenstein.
    Just as with our family group’s Socratic, Paradise Lost, you found many similarities with the characters in both stories, and it makes me appreciate much more how Mary Shelley used various forms of text to parallel with Frankenstein.

    I cannot see any gumps to fix, and the way you backed up everything you said with rationale and then related it back to Frankenstein was very satisfying to read. I feel like it wouldn’t have been whole without it.

    Sorry this comment was so incredibly late 🙁
    Have a lovely weekend Bry!
    With love,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *