Professor Robert Guffey
13 November 2012
Frankenstein: Into the Depths of Allusions
An allusion is a figure of speech that is a reference to a well-known person, place, event, or literary work. These allusions are typically used by an author who intends to make a powerful point without the need to explain it. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein provides many examples of allusion's. She connects the story of “Prometheus”, Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and Milton's Paradise Lost to her own novel to convey the critical points of the meaning behind the story. Not only does Mary Shelley make use of the mythological symbolism, but includes biblical allusions of the creation of Adam and Eve as well. The connections to various works leave clues that will allow readers to identify the many themes of the novel, as well as gaining a better understanding of the primary ideas. The story of the Prometheus is about a titan, a large and godly being, who created man through clay and water. Prometheus taught man the essentials to living and cared for them as their creator. However, he managed to trick Zeus by having him accept the humans' low-quality sacrificial goods. Zeus's response was the confiscation of fire from mankind; Prometheus, being the caring creator, stole fire from Zeus and gave them to the humans. Zeus sentences Prometheus eternal torment; His punishment is to have his liver eaten every day by an eagle, only to have it regrow and consumed again because of his immortality. Prometheus became a figure of anyone who sought to improve humanity through the means of scientific knowledge, but suffers from the risk that follows because of his well-known tragedy. Victor Frankenstein, the protagonist of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, becomes the modern Prometheus since his tragedy is parallel to Prometheus' story. Victor Frankenstein created man, something no other human could possibly fathom. This act reflects that of Prometheus since he, too,...
Cited: Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus. New York: Random House, 1999. Print.
Dudczak, Rebecca. A Cultural History of Frankenstein: Paradise Lost. Mount Holyoke College, 2002. Web. 13 Nov. 2012.
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