Essay about Male Egoism in Prometheus and Frankenstein

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Male Egoism in Prometheus and Frankenstein

According to the Greek poet Hesiod, the Titan demi-god Prometheus was responsible for the creation of men. He manufactured them from clay, from the natural earth. When Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus, she left little doubt that the creator of the monster, Victor Frankenstein, by making a living creature from inaminate parts was a new Prometheus. But her metaphor extends beyond the immediately obvious. In Hesiod’s myth, Prometheus had an inflated sense of self importance and was determined to be adored by men. Because men had no control over fire they were destined to remain mere animals. The forbidden knowledge of fire, the most basic and natural form of energy was
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By characterising Prometheanism, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a critique of male egoism. Shelley represents male egoism through the assertiveness of her glory seeking characters. The attitude of her narrator, Robert Walton, is typified by his belief in his ‘God given right’ to have ultimate success in Arctic explorations. He writes to his sister Margaret asking, "do I not deserve to accomplish some great purpose?" (Shelley 17) This attitude continues as he tells Victor that he would sacrifice anything, including men’s (presumably other men’s) lives for the success of his polar expedition and for "the dominion I should acquire and transmit over the elemental foes of our race"(28). This boast, made in the very midst of vast polar 2. ice fields, impels Victor to tell his story, as both a confession and also as a warning to Walton. If Victor is the ‘Modern Prometheus’, Walton is certainly his apprentice. Like Victor’s knowledge of how to create a living being from dead matter, the knowledge which Walton seeks is forbidden; the secret of nature. By the end of the novel Walton has become aware of the ominous aspect of the Arctic. Certainly, the cruelty of the Arctic has not been lost on the crew of his ship who threaten mutiny. Their human spirit, in striving for forbidden knowledge, when confronted with the terrifying and mysterious abyss of nature, prefers to retreat trembling from the inhuman and

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