Frankenstein - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics

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The Modern Prometheus

The ancient myth of Prometheus took two forms: Prometheus pyrphoros (fire-bringer) and Prometheus plasticator (shaper). In the first the god steals divine fire, emblematic of the combined good and bad potentials of all technologies, for humans; in the second he shapes humans from clay and breathes life into them. In both Zeus makes Prometheus suffer endlessly for his disobedience. In the modern myth, Frankenstein shapes his creation from charnel matter and reanimates it (rather than creating life) with electricity, an occurrence, as Shelley writes in her preface, "supposed by Dr. [Erasmus] Darwin, and some of the physiological writers of Germany, as not of impossible occurrence." The bounds that Frankenstein transgresses are those of obedience to community. He makes himself a monster in two senses. The price is death not only for himself but for his family and potentially all humanity.

As Gothic novels of the supernatural...

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This section contains 1,206 words
(approx. 5 pages at 300 words per page)
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Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics
Frankenstein from Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.