Creation and its Path to Destruction
When early civilization needed an explanation for something found in earth, they created a story to explain it. Prometheus, the creator of man in Greek Mythology, was used as a tool to show how man was created. His story demonstrates the consequences that come along with such a task, also. In the novel Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, the main character Victor is portrayed as the creator. The myth of Prometheus and the book Frankenstein, contain evident similarities. Both men create a being, and in turn, they suffer immense repercussions for their actions.
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When comparing these two pieces of literature, however, one can see there are many differences. In both Frankenstein and the myth of Prometheus, the views toward the creations, the price each creator pays for their actions, and the way they receive their punishments are complete opposites. Prometheus takes into his own hands the task of creation without, however, consulting the powers above him on Mt. Olympus. He made his creatures out of earth materials as the myth explains, “Prometheus, the clever Titan, created all the living creatures from a mixture of earth and water.
From these, he fashioned birds for the air, fish for the sea, and animals for the land. However, from the image of immortal gods, he fashioned man. ” (“Prometheus” 104). It is obvious that he holds his creation of man on a high pedestal for he gave them god – like attributes. He wanted nothing but the best for his favorite creation and he “resolved to do whatever was necessary to insure man’s survival. ” (“Prometheus” 104). Victor Frankenstein loves science. Big things fascinate him, and what would be bigger but to create a being by his own hands. Soon his interests change from “alchemy to chemistry and electricity,” (Nardo 45).
Unlike Prometheus, Victor’s motives were simply selfish. He wanted power. He wanted domination not only over the scientific world, but also over nature and over God. Rather than mixing elements from scratch, Victor collected bones from the charnel-houses” (Frankenstein 39). Frankenstein’s selfish intentions showed when he saw the culmination of his work at its finished stage. He, “desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now he was finished, the beauty of the dream vanished and breathless horror and disgust filled his heart. ” (Frankenstein 42).
He becomes immediately dissatisfied with his efforts and turns his back on his only creation. Prometheus bestows on his products many talents. This shows his deep passion and love for what he has made. When there is nothing left for man, Prometheus goes to great lengths to see that they are taken care of. After receiving the gifts of knowledge and arts and crafts from Athena and Hephaestus,”Man as frail as he was became master of his environment. ” (“Prometheus”105). He then proceeds to try and connive Zeus into believing man’s sacrifices were truly more than they really were.
This shows Prometheus’s dominion over god. Zeus takes fire away from man, only to have it taken back by the chief – creator, Prometheus. His true love for man shows when his trickery comes out by, “hiding [the fire’s] bright flame behind a hallow stalk” (Prometheus 106). When Zeus looks down from Mount Olympus and sees the fire, he declares, “bind the rebel Prometheus to Mt. Caucasus,” (“Prometheus” 106). When Prometheus can no longer hide from the wraths of Zeus, the highest god implements a punishment that will torture Prometheus for an eternity.
He places upon him his eagle and, “this greedy vulture will tear open the body and gorge his voracious appetite upon [his] defenseless liver. Each night [his] liver will regenerate itself to provide a renewed feast for the eagle the following day. ” (Prometheus 106). Victor also suffers consequences. The lonely monster destroys the lives of all those whom Victor loves. He creates wrath upon Victor’s life, and the lives of innocent people. Although Victor thinks he has dominion over God, he cannot steal and bestow heavenly gift onto his monster, nor would he want to.
He has absolutely no desire to assist the monster in anything. This is what instills the rage in the monster. The wretch knows this and when he says, “You, my creator, abhor me. ” (Frankenstein 82). When Zeus sustained Prometheus and his creating powers, there was no harm done to the creatures. The love that they endured from their creator enabled them to flourish and prosper for millions of years. Prometheus’s life ends with a sense of satisfaction. Prometheus was proud of his creations. Frankenstein on the contrary, died a horrible, miserable death.
He was not happy with his life and his creation. When Mary Shelley titled her novel, it was called Frankenstein: The Modern Day Prometheus. Although this title seems fitting, it is clear to see that Frankenstein embodies nothing of Prometheus. The fact that they are creators lumps them into a category that they should not share. The two men share nothing in common besides their calling. Prometheus was the epitome of a good creator. If this were the case in Victor’s life, Shelley would have no book.