Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me Man, did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me?
- Paradise Lost
1. In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the subtitle "The Modern Prometheus" is attached to the name of the novel. Indeed, there exists a correlation between the mythological titan who is punished for stealing the dangerous knowledge of fire for humanity and Victor Frankenstein, a man whose ruthless quest for forbidden knowledge of life drives him to utter destruction. Like Prometheus, Frankenstein is a rebel against divine authority and pushes the boundary of bioethics. Victor attempts to step beyond the accepted human limits and discover the secret of life. "I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation." Thus Frankenstein is driven by an obsessive thirst for unexplored knowledge, disregarding the consequences but paying for them later. Quite accordingly, Prometheus is also punished for his actions when Zeus learns of his transgressions of divine authority. The fate of Victor Frankenstein is ironic in the sense that in his quest to create a human being, he loses his own humanity. He shuts himself off completely from the outside world during his endeavors, only to be eventually driven by his animalistic urges of revenge to a primal battle with his creation in the cold Arctic. Frankenstein tells Robert Walton, "Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge."
2. In Robert Walton's letters to his sister, Mary Shelley reveals an in-depth look at his character. Walton confesses his feelings of loneliness and isolation, even from his own crew. He is too sophisticated to befriend any of his shipmates and too uneducated to fully express his feelings with another.... [continues]
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