Frankenstein - Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus Preface...

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Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus Preface Preface Mary Shelley subtitled her novel "The Modern Prometheus." According to the Greeks, Prometheus, a Titan who preceded the Olympian Gods, created Man from clay. Zeus demanded food offerings from Man, but Prometheus taught them how to trick Zeus into accepting the less useful parts of a butchered animal so that Man could keep the best parts for themselves. Once Zeus learned of the deception he decreed that Man was not to be allowed fire. Prometheus crept into the underworld, stole fire from Hephaestus, and gave it to Man. Again, Zeus discovered the transgression and chained Prometheus to a rock, where an eagle would devour his liver every day (it would grow back every night). He remained there for 30,000 years.
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Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus In order to punish Man, Zeus and the Olympians created Woman. A beautiful creature, Pandora was offered as a gift and readily accepted by Man. As a “wedding present,” Zeus presented them with a beautifully wrought box. When Pandora opened the box, all suffering and despair was unleashed upon mankind. Zeus had his revenge. Prometheus sought fire for human betterment -- to make tools and warm hearts -- but inadvertently brought about destruction. Similarly, Mary Shelley's arrogant scientist, Victor Frankenstein, claims "benevolent intentions, and thirst[s] for the moment when I should put them in practice." Frankenstein endures not only because of its infamous horrors but for the richness of the ideas it asks us to confront--human accountability, social alienation, and the nature of life itself.
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Prometheus Bound , 1611-1612, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) Photographic reproduction of an oil painting, The Granger Collection, New York
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Paradise Lost “Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay To mould me man? Did I solicit thee From darkness to promote me?” - From John Milton's Paradise Lost (and the title page of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus , 1818) In Frankenstein , the intelligent and sensitive monster created by Victor Frankenstein reads a copy of Milton's Paradise Lost , which profoundly stirs his emotions. The monster compares his situation to that of Adam. Unlike the first man who had "come forth from the hands of God a perfect creature," Frankenstein's creature is hideously formed. Abandoned by Victor Frankenstein, the monster finds himself "wretched, helpless, and alone."
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The Expulsion from Eden , 17th century, Artist unknown. Photographic reproduction of a line engraving. The Granger Collection, New York
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Surrounded by Ice “A sledge . . . had drifted towards us in the night, on a large fragment of ice. Only one dog remained alive; but there was a human being within it. . . . His limbs were nearly frozen, and his body dreadfully emaciated by fatigue and suffering. I never saw a man in so wretched a condition.” - Robert Walton to his sister Mrs. Saville Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus , 1818 Frankenstein opens with a series of letters written by
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Frankenstein - Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus Preface...

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