How can the lightning that Victor uses to animate the monster be compared to the fire that Prometheus steals from Zeus in Frankenstein?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In a sense, Victor Frankenstein steals from nature the power of the lightning, the fire of the sky, to generate life into his creature, actions much like the mythological Prometheus's actions.  Prometheus has used divine breath to create human beings from clay and water, and then has stolen fire from the god Zeus to give to humans so that they can live.  However, in some versons of this myth, Athena did not breathe life into Prometheus’ clay figures to make the people. 

Instead, the myth explains that Prometheus needed the energy of the fire to give the clay figures the “spark of life.”

So, with this myth there are, certainly, parallels.  With both the fire of Prometheus and the lightning of Victor Frankenstein, the metaphor of illumination as knowledge/science without balance are comparable.  Man, of course misuses fire just as the creature, after attaining knowledge, misuses it for his revenge against Victor.  Both Prometheus and Victor are punished for their thefts as they are sentenced to torture.  Prometheus is chained to a rock in the Caucasus Mountains where an eagle comes each day to eat at his liver, leaving at night for it to grow back so that the torture will last eternally.  Interestingly, the setting of Frankenstein is often in the Alps, and it is through these frozen mountains that the psychologically tormented Victor pursues his torturer.  Like Prometheus, Victor Frankenstein pays a dear price for his hubris in making himself a creator by exploiting nature and exceeding his human limitations.

 

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