Prometheus and Frankenstein: The similarities are startling (2023)

Prometheus and Frankenstein: The similarities are startling (1)

What are Prometheus and Frankenstein like?

What do an ancient Greek myth and Frankenstein have in common? Read on to find out how the most famous Titan in Greek mythology influenced the most famous monster in literature.

Prometheus and Frankenstein: The similarities are startling (2)


Mike Greenberg, PhD

published in

It might seem like a stretch to link an ancient Greek tale of robbery and torture with a 19th century masterpiece of gothic horror. What could Prometheus and Frankenstein have in common?

But writer Mary Shelley herself made the connection when she wrote her story about science going too far. She captioned the novel her.The modern Prometheusand invites readers to make the connection between the ancient Titan and the modern mad scientist.

So what did Mary Shelley mean when she compared the excellent scientist in her novel to the one before?fire thief?

(Video) The Prometheus Influence on Frankenstein

The answer to this is rooted in ancient divine law, contemporary scientific achievements, and the author's own troubled life.

Read on to find out how the author of the first science fiction story was inspired by a tale from two thousand years ago!

Frankenstein de Mary Shelley

Mary Shelleyfrankensteinwas published on January 1, 1818. The young author was only 20 years old when her novel changed the literary world.

When she began writing the story at age 18, Mary Godwin, as she was known as a young woman, had already lived a full and tragic life. Her mother died when she was very young and Maria herself suffered the loss of a child, the first of many losses she would suffer.

In 1816, Mary married the poet Percy Blysshe Shelley after the death of his first wife. The two lived together for almost two years, the first of many scandals that would haunt their lives.

READ MORE: How was Athena born?

The Shelleys lived a nomadic life, moving between friends' houses and rental properties across the continent. During a stay in Switzerland, Mary had the idea for her most famous work.

During one rainy summer, the Shelleys, along with their friend Lord Byron, amused themselves by telling German ghost stories. The three writers challenged themselves to create their own stories, inspired by the setting and the growing popularity of the gothic horror genre.

Mary Shelley said she spent days thinking about what story she could come up with to possibly surpass the older poets she lived with. Inspired by trends in the world around her, as well as her own experiences of loss and loneliness, she envisioned the story of a scientist who pushes her work to impossible extremes.

Mary won the contest with her story of who defied godto raise the dead. With the encouragement of her husband, she expanded the story into a full novel.

The Shelleys lived in an age of scientific advancement, where scholars like them were abreast of the latest discoveries. One that greatly influenced Mary Shelley was the work of Luigi Galvani, who studied how electromagnetic currents flowed through animals.

Galvani managed to make the legs of a dead frog contract by passing electrical currents through them, but Shelley envisioned something bigger. What if a scientist could bring a whole human being back to life?

READ MORE: What made Perseus a hero?

However, in Shelley's imagination, Frankenstein was not an Enlightenment hero. Taking science too far, he created a monster.

The modern Prometheus

A characteristic common to almost all religions is the power of the gods over life and death.

Dr. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein blurred that line. He claimed the power to create life and defy death.

Retrieving his monster from the grave, Dr. Frankenstein to the divine will. In his case, it was the Christian God who was offended by the arrogance of science.

In the case of Prometheus it was like thisZeusthat he got angry when people received a gift they shouldn't have. Prometheus's gift was not the power of life and death, but it still allowed humans to survive.

(Video) The Modern Prometheus || Frankenstein Animatic

When Zeus was tricked into accepting the leftovers as an offering instead of the best cuts of meat from the slaughtered ox, he retaliated by punishing the humans. He took the fire away, leaving them unable to cook, forge weapons, or keep warm.

The Titan Prometheus, who always took pity on mortals, saved humanity by returning fire. He stole fire from Zeus's own home in an act of robbery and defiance.

Prometheus was severely punished by Zeusfor defying his will and enduring centuries of torment while bound in unbreakable chains. dr However, Victor Frankenstein received much more psychological torture.

The creature, as Shelley called Frankenstein's monster, horrified its creator. Dr. Frankenstein let the monster revive, convinced that his experiments had created a creature of pure evil.

READ MORE: The Erinyes: The Avenging Furies

However, the creature that Frankenstein created was not originally motivated by evil. However, abandonment and loneliness, combined with the fine lines between life and death, drove her to kill those close to the Doctor.

Victor Frankenstein nearly went insane, both from the losses he suffered and his own fault and paranoia. Shelley's doctor died alone desperately trying to track down and kill his own creation.

Although Victor Frankenstein and Prometheus suffered very different fates, both were tormented by their own actions. Each committed a different act of defiance to the will of the Divine and was punished in his own way for his arrogance.

unexamined science

At the root of this warning against defying the gods is the concern that humans come too close to being gods.

As the daughter of two philosophical writers, Mary Shelley was undoubtedly influenced by the works of ancient Greece and Rome. She was known to have read Ovid and studied the philosophies of Pythagoras.

He was known to have read contemporary interpretations of Pythagoreanism that saw Prometheus as a villain.

The vegetarian movements of the early 19th century, which claimed their roots in ancient philosophy, claimed that Prometheus deceived humanity by encouraging it to use fire to cook the meat of animals. The Shelleys were known to follow this lifestyle.

However, perhaps most influential on his own work was the famous play by Aeschylus.limits of prometheus🇧🇷 One of the best-known works on ancient mythology, the work details the Titan's alleged feelings about his life and actions.

READ MORE: The tragic story of Orpheus and Eurydice

While Aeschylus portrayed Prometheus as the hero of the story, the Titan's pride in the gifts he gave humanity might have sounded familiar to someone living in an age of rapidly advancing scientific discovery:

Listen to the rest and you'll be even more amazed by the artwork and resources I've developed. In the first place: once a person got sick, they had no defense... but due to lack of medication they atrophied until I taught them to mix beneficial substances with which they now prevent all their illnesses.

-Aeschylus, Prometheus linked 441 ff (trans. Weir Smyth)

Prometheus gave man the gift of knowledge and claimed to be the source of almost all human progress. Shelley's assertions that humanity was ignorant and almost helpless before her intervention may have reminded her of some scientists bragging about her discoveries.

(Video) Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus - Extra Sci Fi - #1

Prometheus intended to help humanity, but he did not respect the laws of the gods. Some 19th-century people, seeing how scientists like Galvani seemed to be taking steps to blur the line between life and death, could easily imagine that their society was also pushing its scientific progress too far.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein serves as a warning about arrogance and self-righteousness.knowing your limitations, just like the ancient story of Prometheusdid. When the desire for progress went against natural law or divine will, the only result was tragedy.

READ MORE: Themis: The Goddess of Natural Law

Prometheus and Victor Frankenstein

The story of Prometheus was over two millennia old when Mary Shelley wrote her genre novel.frankenstein🇧🇷 But the young writer was inspired by the old story.

In the character of Prometheus, Shelley saw a character defying the gods to give mankind power that could be used for evil. She saw the same arrogance in her own world.

Scientists in Shelley's day took their disciplines to new extremes, even experimenting with the use of electricity to cause reactions in dead flesh. Like Prometheus, they meddled with powers most laymen believed belonged solely in the hands of God.

Mary Shelley was already dealing with loss and death, had experienced a lot in her youth, and was inspired by the gothic horror novels popular at the time. Beginning her story in a remote Swiss castle during a dark and humid summer increased her concern for dark forces.

The result was a classic story of a scientist who takes the power of life and death from the hands of God and interferes with forces he should have nothing to do with.

Like the ancient Prometheus, Victor Frankenstein was punished for his arrogance and arrogance. His torment was psychological in nature, but it was considered as divinely ordained as Prometheus's imprisonment had been two thousand years before.

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Prometheus and Frankenstein: The similarities are startling (5)

Mike Greenberg, PhD

My name is Mike and for as long as I can remember (a long time!) I have been passionate about all things mythology. I am the owner and principal researcher of this website. My work has also been featured on Buzzfeed and, more recently, in Time magazine. Please like and share this article if you found it useful.

Prometheus and Frankenstein: The similarities are startling (6)

(Video) The myth of Prometheus - Iseult Gillespie


What are the similarities between Frankenstein and Prometheus? ›

Prometheus and Frankenstein suffered for their deeds. They attempted to create a new life and faced the results of their actions. Both of the characters suffered from disregarding the laws of nature in favor of progress and creation.

What are the similarities and differences between the Prometheus myth and Shelley's Frankenstein? ›

Both Victor Frankenstein and the Greek Titan Prometheus are attributed to creating life. While Dr. Frankenstein gives life to an inanimate corpse, Prometheus created the building blocks of life for humans by creating the men from clay. In both stories the creators both only created men.

How are Frankenstein and Prometheus alike brainly? ›

Answer: Frankenstein and Prometheus are alike in their ambitions and desire to create life. Likewise, both Prometheus and Victor are made miserable and suffer harsh consequences for interfering with the forces of nature.

What is the difference between Prometheus and Frankenstein? ›

The two are similar in their compassion for mankind, disregard of human limits, and personal downfall, but Prometheus is successful in benefiting society, while Frankenstein ultimately creates a weapon of destruction.

What myth is similar to Prometheus? ›

Pkharmat is the Vainakh equivalent of the Greek hero Prometheus and the Georgian hero Amirani, among others.

Is Frankenstein based on Prometheus? ›

The full title of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. The novel draws clear parallels between Victor Frankenstein and the Greek mythological figure of Prometheus.

What are the similarities between Frankenstein and the Creature? ›

The monster also kills innocent people without any concern for morality. In this regard, they are similar. Hatred and vengeance are another similarity between Frankenstein and the monster. Frankenstein swears to destroy the creature and the creature also vows to create dear ones of Frankenstein.

What are the similarities between Victor Frankenstein and The Ancient Mariner? ›

Another common theme found in both Frankenstein and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is the respect for nature and living things. Both tales emphasize the power of natural forces through the albatross and Frankenstein's creation which can be shown through, as previously discussed, retribution.

What stories are similar to Frankenstein? ›

Frankenstein Friday: 8 Books to Read If You Loved Frankenstein
  • The Last Man by Mary Shelley (1826) ...
  • Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe (1592) or Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust (1790/1831) ...
  • R.U.R. by Karel Capek (1921) ...
  • “Moxon's Master” by Ambrose Bierce (1899) ...
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
21 Dec 2018

What is the theme of Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus? ›

Dangerous Knowledge. The pursuit of knowledge is at the heart of Frankenstein, as Victor attempts to surge beyond accepted human limits and access the secret of life.

Why is Frankenstein titled Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus? ›

The correct title of Mary Shelley's work is Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Shelley is deliberately referencing the Greek myth so her readers will be aware of the connection she is making between Prometheus and Victor Frankenstein.

What modern figure is similar to Prometheus? ›

Frankenstein is defined as Modern Prometheus (etymology, the one who knows before) by Mary Shelley .

Who does Prometheus represent in Frankenstein? ›

Prometheus represents human progress and advancements, which enable mankind to defy the laws of nature. One of the major themes is that the excessive pride and defiance against nature can have many unwanted consequences.

How is Dr Frankenstein not like Prometheus? ›

Prometheus worked ceaselessly as a creator on behalf of his creation, as do most creator figures in mythology. Frankenstein does not. Quite the contrary he tries to ignore his creation and to curse it.

How does Victor Frankenstein story parallel the story of Prometheus and Pandora? ›

How does Victor Frankenstein's story parallel the story of Prometheus and Pandora? Victor creates life in the monster, just as Prometheus and Athena created life in humans. Victor and Pandora both indulged their curiosity, which led to their downfall.

What's the real story of Prometheus? ›

In Greek mythology, Prometheus is a Titan god of fire and supreme trickster. He is credited with the creation of humanity from clay, and of defying the gods by stealing fire and giving it to mankind. For this transgression, Zeus sentenced him to eternal torment.

What is the lesson of Prometheus? ›

Progress. Prometheus stands for human progress against the forces of nature. We learn close to the beginning that he has given humanity the gifts of fire and hope. Hope helps human beings to struggle for a better future while fire, as the source of technology, makes success in that struggle possible.

Who was Prometheus in love with? ›

§ 2). Prometheus, in the legend, often appears in connection with Athena, e. g., he is said to have been punished on mount Caucasus for the criminal love he entertained for her (Schol.

Is Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus the same as Frankenstein? ›

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is an 1818 novel written by English author Mary Shelley. Frankenstein tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a sapient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment.

What are similarities between Victor and Prometheus? ›

The major similarity between Viktor and Prometheus is the consequences they dealt with after the making of their creations. Despite the thrill they got from creating life, both faced the harsh consequences of rebirth and were ripped away from their irrevocable attachment to creation.

What are the differences between Frankenstein and the monster? ›

Unlike Frankenstein, the monster seeks for connection to the world, to have friends. Both Frankenstein and the monster believe they're “unfit” for companionship. The monster knows his deformity does not allow for his social acceptance. He can visually understand why he would not fit in with other people.

What are the similarities and differences between Victor and Henry? ›

From a young age, Victor Frankenstein becomes fascinated with the practical sciences, especially electricity and chemistry. Henry Clerval on the other hand is a far more naïve and romantic character compared to Victor's sobriety and melancholy.

Who is Victor Frankenstein in love with? ›

Frankenstein falls in love with Elizabeth Lavenza, who became his adoptive sister (his blood cousin in the 1818 edition) and, eventually, his fiancée.

Where does Frankenstein reference The Rime of the Ancient Mariner? ›

Literary. The die is cast; I have consented to return if we are not destroyed. This is an allusion to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” when the figures Death and Life-in-Death cast dice for the mariner regarding his fate.

Is Victor in love with Elizabeth Frankenstein? ›

Though Victor continues saying he loves Elizabeth in this way, he essentially puts her off for the asserted completion of the female counterpart to the monster. Later in the novel, he also unintentionally must put off the marriage when he becomes ill and is imprisoned, falsely accused of Clerval's murder.

What are the 3 themes in Frankenstein? ›

Frankenstein, by English author Mary Shelley, tells the story of a monster created by a scientist and explores themes of life, death, and man versus nature.

What book is similar to a monster calls? ›

Coraline. You may already know Coraline from the 2009 feature film adaption, but you simply must check out the novel itself. When Coraline moves to a new house with her parents, she finds a mysterious door that leads to a world very similar to hers—complete with versions of her mother and father.

What was the book Frankenstein inspired by? ›

In her 1831 preface to the novel, she attributed her inspiration to a nightmare she had at Geneva, where the company spent their evenings terrifying each other with chilling stories.

What is the main message of Frankenstein? ›

The main message that Frankenstein conveys is the danger in the pursuit of knowledge and advancement in Science and Technology. In the novel we see Victor try to push forward the limits of science by creating a creature from old body parts. The creation of the creature backfired on Victor once the monster escaped.

Why does Mary Shelley allude to Prometheus? ›

Prometheus is a reference to the Greek myth of a titan named Prometheus, whom ancient Greeks believed to have given human beings the ability to work and to think for themselves. Shelley uses this allusion because Victor Frankenstein and Prometheus are both creators.

What does Prometheus symbolize today? ›

Prometheus' name means forethought, so he symbolizes thinking ahead and planning before taking action. While he was not the only god associated with fire, he is often associated and depicted with it in ancient works of art. Prometheus also symbolizes the creation of humankind and their development of fire.

Is Prometheus similar to Jesus? ›

The story of Prometheus, his godliness, punishment, and sacrifice resembles the life of Jesus. Jesus, the son of God, took on flesh to sacrifice himself for the sin of humanity. And when Christianity spread to Greece, the parallels in these stories must have readily resonated with the Greeks.

What is the meaning of Prometheus? ›

/prəˈmiː.θi.əs/ in Greek mythology (= ancient stories), a demigod (= someone who is part human and part god) who stole fire from Mount Olympus: Prometheus was a Titan, the class of immortals who were around long before Zeus.

Is Victor or the creature Prometheus? ›

Explicitly in the subtitle of the novel, Mary identifies Victor with the Greek immortal and trickster figure Prometheus, who among other adventures steals fire from the gods and gives it to man.

Why was Prometheus a hero or an Villain? ›

The story of Prometheus was an attempt by the Ancient Greeks to explain how mankind ended up with fire. He is hailed as a hero by the people, but the gods had an entirely different perspective. They weren't happy with what he did and he was punished because of it.

What is your most significant lesson learned in Prometheus and Pandora? ›

Zeus wanted to teach humankind a lesson. With Pandora's Jar, Zeus had gotten even with Prometheus for getting out of line along with teaching humans a lesson. From this mere myth, we learn that curiosity can kill the cat and the Greek golden age of innocence.

Does Prometheus marry Pandora? ›

He writes that in earlier myths, Pandora was married to Prometheus, and cites the ancient Hesiodic Catalogue of Women as preserving this older tradition, and that the jar may have at one point contained only good things for humanity.

What similarities do we see between the monster and Frankenstein? ›

The monster also kills innocent people without any concern for morality. In this regard, they are similar. Hatred and vengeance are another similarity between Frankenstein and the monster. Frankenstein swears to destroy the creature and the creature also vows to create dear ones of Frankenstein.

Who is similar to Frankenstein? ›

Frankenstein Friday: 8 Books to Read If You Loved Frankenstein
  • The Last Man by Mary Shelley (1826) ...
  • Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe (1592) or Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust (1790/1831) ...
  • R.U.R. by Karel Capek (1921) ...
  • “Moxon's Master” by Ambrose Bierce (1899) ...
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
21 Dec 2018

What does the monster compare himself to in Frankenstein? ›

The monster likens himself to Adam, the first human created in the Bible. He also speaks of himself as a "fallen angel," much like Satan in Paradise Lost.

What lesson does the story of Prometheus teach us? ›

Prometheus stands for human progress against the forces of nature. We learn close to the beginning that he has given humanity the gifts of fire and hope. Hope helps human beings to struggle for a better future while fire, as the source of technology, makes success in that struggle possible.

What does Prometheus story symbolize? ›

In the Western classical tradition, Prometheus became a figure who represented human striving (particularly the quest for scientific knowledge) and the risk of overreaching or unintended consequences.

Is Frankenstein a man or woman? ›

One of the deepest horrors of this novel is his implicit goal of creating a society for men only: Victor's creature is male; he refuses to create a female; there is no reason why the race of immortal beings he hopes to propagate should not be exclusively male.

Who are the 3 main characters in Frankenstein? ›

Character List
  • Victor Frankenstein Creator of the monster. ...
  • The monster The creature created by Victor Frankenstein while at the University of Ingolstadt. ...
  • Henry Clerval Victor's best friend who helps Victor in his time of need.


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