Why did Shelley subtitle the novel The Modern Prometheus?

After finishing reading Mary Shelley’s  Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, write a roughly  two-page informal discussion of the novel. Specifically, think of an aspect of the novel that struck you as different from other representations you may have seen in other media. What surprised you? What issues raised by the novel did you find remain relevant today? In addition to your personal observations, consider the following questions, which we will be discussing together in class..


1. Why did Shelley subtitle the novel  The Modern Prometheus? What parallels exist between the Prometheus myth we discussed earlier this semester and the story of  Frankenstein? Recall also that Immanuel Kant referred to Benjamin Franklin as “a modern Prometheus”: how does this relate to the novel and Victor’s creation?


2. Read Ovid’s version of the myth of  PygmalionLinks to an external site.. How does Shelley adapt and reinterpret this myth of a creator falling in love with his creation?


3. Discuss the ways in which the settings in the Alps (in the main narrative) and the Arctic (in the frame story) play a role in the story itself. Specifically, how do these settings relate to the Romantic concept of the Sublime? You might consult Percy Shelley’s famous poem  “Mont Blanc”Links to an external site.  or Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s  “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”Links to an external site.  for comparison. What symbolism is invoked through these forbidding places? What does their remoteness suggest about the Creature, who claims to feel at home in these barren settings?


4. Recall that Mary Shelley’s mother was Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote the earliest known feminist work,  A Vindication of the Rights of Women. How does Victor’s creation of the monster relate to emerging ideas of feminism? What does the experiment say about notions of parentage and childbirth?


5. What religious and ethical questions does the novel raise? Do you see the novel as a criticism of science? If so, what warnings does it pose? Specifically, what debates raised in  Paradise Lost echo in Shelley’s novel (especially the way Milton describes Satan’s relationship with God)? 


6. Who is the villain of the novel? Who is the hero? What does this say about Shelley’s ideas of justice? Remember that Mary Shelley’s father was a famous political philosopher, William Godwin, whose major work  Enquiry Concerning Political Justice believed that society itself was inherently oppressive. How are ideas such as these presented in the novel? Does the novel suggest that society is good? What does the novel suggest about human nature? Are humans inherently good according to the novel? You might consider the ideas of  Jean-Jacques RousseauLinks to an external site. , especially his concept of the “noble savage” and the evils of society.

Why did Shelley subtitle the novel The Modern Prometheus?

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