John Milton Influence On Frankenstein

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While Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, is often hailed as the first example of modern science fiction, as a departure from the classical and from the typical literary trends of the era in which it was written, the novel is, in reality, heavily influenced by the great works of English literature that proceeded its writing. Chief among these semi-classical influences is that of John Milton’s Paradise Lost—arguably the greatest poem in any compendium of English literature. Key character’s in Frankenstein are heavily influenced—shaped by—the epic, to the point where they attempt—or are forced to—emulate the key characters of the poem. Mary Shelley’s Miltonic allusions in Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus serve to shape the formless …show more content…
When the creature is brought into the world, he is a blank slate. There is nothing in him save his will to life and to knowledge and his need to find out who—what—he is. Because of these internal drives, he looks to those people and things around him to give him some sense of identity. But even his creator, the one who should have guided him on the path of goodness “regarded [him] as a monstrous brute; a living abortion not fit to be called human.” (Simpson). The effect this classification has on The Being’s self-identification is profound. It drives him farther from the idea that he is a creature of innate goodness—an Adamic figure—and closer to the idea that he is a thing of innate evil and unworthiness—a Satanic figure. As Satan himself puts it in book IV of Paradise Lost: “all Good to me is lost; / Evil be thou my Good;” (IV.109-110) The idea that there are only two options for identity—Adamic, and Satanic—is further reinforced, when, as Leslie Tannenbaum states in the 1977 edition of the Keats-Shelley Journal: “[…] Frankenstein’s monster, after reading Paradise Lost, begins to draw parallels and contrasts between his own situation and those described in Milton’s epic, he is merely making explicit a process that has been going on from the beginning of the novel and that continues to the

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