or, the Trouble with Prometheus
The common interpretation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as a cautionary tale is not inaccurate but incomplete; Victor Frankenstein’s fatal choices are not in his desire for scientific knowledge, but in his willful avoidance of knowledge about consequences of his actions and their effects on others’ well-being. Shelley parallels Victor with the Greek immortal Prometheus, but this trickster figure is ultimately not an apt parallel for Victor, who undertakes his research in the spirit of self-aggrandizement and narcissism, rather than a desire to improve people’s lives, or even curiosity about the inner workings of the world around him. Victor’s failure of empathy and his myopia about consequences make Frankenstein a powerful parable about responsibility and the need for scientists to engage in careful moral and ethical introspection about the broader ramifications of their work.
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