The Duality Of Nature In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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The Duality of Nature in Frankenstein: From the dawn of human civilization, man has always been transfixed by the work of the natural world. He has told myths to explain it, and researched it endlessly to understand its power. In a way, human progress from small enclaves to powerful civilizations can be marked by the expansion of natural bounds. We have created vaccines to ward off disease, electricity to light the dark, and even genetically engineered new organisms to feed a massive and growing population. In the 19th century, the literary Romantic period seems to be a reaction to such progress. Many literary works of the era respect the beauty and power of the natural world, as authors such as Emerson, Melville, and Keats shared a sense of reverence for the earth. British romantic author Mary Shelley…show more content…
When Mary Shelley originally published the novel anonymously in 1818, it was titled Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. In Greek mythology, Prometheus was a titan that defied the gods by granting humanity with the gift of fire (later suffering severe punishment). Victor Frankenstein embodies Prometheus’s archetype; he attempts to give the gift of life to humanity, and ends up suffering grave punishment as well. Interestingly, another comparison to Greek mythology reveals the power of light. In the story of Icarus, the titular character and his father are imprisoned on the island of Crete. His father, the great inventor Daedalus, constructs magnificent wings with which they can escape imprisonment. Once the two take flight, Icarus becomes ecstatic with his new ability and flies higher and higher towards the sun. Deaf to his father's pleas to return, Icarus flies up until the sun’s heat melts the wax on his wings and he falls to the sea. Much like Icarus, both Robert Walton and Victor Frankenstein flew towards the light without caution, and doomed themselves to failure and
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