Frankenstein Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Term Paper

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What Victor is saying is that in order to create a living being from the dead, he must haunt the graveyards like a human ghoul and experiment on live animals to "animate" "lifeless clay," being the deceased remains of human beings. From this admission, it is abundantly obvious that Victor, like Prometheus, sees "clay" as the foundation for creation, a substance which is part of the earth itself and which allows skilled hands to mold it into any shape or form desired.

In Chapter Five of Frankenstein, "on a dreary night of November," Victor describes "the accomplishment of my toils" while surrounded by "the instruments of life." This is the pivotal creation scene in the novel which some scholars have mentioned as having "not enough substance related to exactly how Victor created his monster" (Smith, 256). In this setting, Victor, full of anxiety and fearful of the unknown, attempts to figure out how "I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay before my feet." Certainly, the use of electricity in the form of galvanic batteries was his only option, and at "one in the morning" by the "glimmer of half-extinguished light," Victor observes "the dull yellow eye of the creature open" amid heavy breathing and much movement of its "agitated" limbs (Shelley, 45).

Once again, we can sense of presence of Prometheus as he breathes life into the lifeless clay of the earth which lies before his feet. Incidentally, Victor describes his newly-risen Creature as having yellow skin, black hair and lips and pearly-white teeth, colors which are most closely associated with the earth, such as in yellow ocher clay used for modeling purposes by sculptors. In addition, this creation scenario is replete with regeneration, meaning that the Creature, composed of dead body parts from the graveyard, is much like the liver/heart of Prometheus which regenerates itself on a daily basis so that the eagle can feed on it as Prometheus lies bounded to the rock.

As described by the playwright Aeschylus, Prometheus was an "immortal god," an "omniscient seer," and a "heroic sufferer" and possessed an "inflexible mind," traits which are certainly present in the form of the Creature, whom Victor sees as a "devil" and a "daemon." For example, in Chapter 10 of Frankenstein, upon their first meeting in the "cold gale of the mountains," the Creature states that he is "miserable beyond all living things" and relates "Have I not suffered enough that you seek to increase my misery?" (Shelley, 73). In this scene, the reader is inundated with much discussion that borders on some type of romantic treatise written by Lord Byron or Percy Shelley. For instance, the Creature tells Victor "Remember, that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed...I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend" (Shelley, 74).

Without a doubt, the Creature is an "immortal god," for he cannot die a mortal death and is doomed to wander the earth amid the "desert mountains and dreary glaciers," he is also an "omniscient seer," one who know all as a scholar which is supported by his use of such language as "The guilty are allowed, by human laws, bloody as they are, to speak in their own defense before they are condemned... Oh, praise the eternal justice of man!" (Shelley, 74) and his philosophical metaphor "Of what a strange nature is knowledge! It clings to the mind, when it has once seized on it, like a lichen on the rock" (Shelley, 87). Moreover, the Creature is an "heroic sufferer," due to being able to withstand the hatred of all men. He is the ultimate outcast from human society, a pariah who if not given justice will "glut the maw of death until it be satiated with the blood" of mankind. Also like Prometheus, the Creature possesses an "inflexible mind," especially in relation to his demand that Victor create a female companion for him, "with whom I can love in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for my being" (Shelley, 103).

In the conclusion of Frankenstein, the unholy Creature bids farewell to the cruel world in which Victor, now dead, has placed him. At this point in the tale, the Creature is inside Captain Walton's ship, bound in the ice of the harsh arctic. Just before he leaps from a cabin window and climbs upon an ice raft "which lay close to the vessel," the Creature declares "I shall die... Soon these burning miseries will be extinct. I shall ascend the funeral pyre... And exult in the agony of the torturing flames... Farewell" (Shelley, 156). With this, the Creature perishes, or least thinks he will, in the "torturing flames" of the "funeral pyre" which will erase all of his "burning miseries." Notice that fire plays a major role in this scenario, the very fire that Prometheus stole from the Olympian gods and gave to mankind so that they could survive in the harsh wilderness of reality.

As Johanna M. Smith relates, in Mary Shelley's introduction to her revised Frankenstein of 1831, she "looked back on her own history... In order to answer a very frequently-asked question -- "How I, then a young girl, came to think of and to dilate upon, so very hideous an idea" as found in her novel (3). The answer has never been appropriately identified, yet it is possible that as Mary Shelley sat comfortably at Lord Byron's Diodati estate in Switzerland, her eyes may have fallen on an open copy of Percy Shelley's Prometheus Unbound which, in essence, sparked her imagination and set a fire burning within her soul to tell a tale that has come down to us in the 21st century as one of the greatest Gothic masterpieces of all time, thanks in part to the myth of Prometheus.


Prometheus." Theoi Project. Internet. 2007. Retrieved 21 April, 2007 at

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus. Philadelphia, PA: Running

Press, 1990.

Smith, Johanna M., Ed. Mary Shelley: Frankenstein. 2nd ed. New…[continue]

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