The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner Victor Frankenstein Analysis

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Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s novel Frankenstein is a tale of creation and destruction rich with transformations of other famous texts. Near the end of the book, Victor Frankenstein, the monster’s maker, gives an ominous forewarning to a man who he fears will repeat his mistake of behaving recklessly in the pursuit of knowledge. This portion of the novel is a re-imagination of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 1834 poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which itself is based on the Greek myth of Prometheus. Through her adoption of dreary imagery reminiscent of Coleridge’s poem and her reframing of virtue in a scientific light, Shelley modernizes these two texts while remaining true to their moral: unchecked ambition can have disastrous consequences.…show more content…
The ancient mariner pays “penance” for his “cruel” killing of the Albatross by spending an eternity in transience, preaching love for all of God’s creatures (lines 401-409, lines 615-618). Likewise, Prometheus suffers for years as punishment for his disobedience in providing man with fire against Zeus’ will. Although Victor is guilty of creating and subsequently abandoning the monster, rather than of coddling or unjustly killing it, he too must pay for his actions. In the Prometheus myth, as well as in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, transgressors are punished by all-powerful gods. Frankenstein is different because Victor is threatened by his own creation rather than by a higher being. Furthermore, unlike Prometheus and the ancient mariner, who could do absolutely nothing to avoid serving their sentences, Victor has the opportunity to enlist the help of others in fighting the creature, but refuses to do so because he fears for his reputation. This transfer of power from a higher being to humankind frames the moral debate surrounding the “hubris of invention” in a more secular, scientific light (Szollosy 435).…show more content…
Pandora, whom Zeus created as a means of retaliation against man, would also cause mankind great suffering as a result of her insatiable curiosity (“Pandora”). The common theme among all three texts is that ambition, however well-intentioned, can have unforeseen and often irreversible consequences that outweigh the benefits of furthering scientific knowledge. Although not always obviously or immediately harmful, the pursuit of knowledge can be just as detrimental as those behaviors rejected by society for moral reasons. The location of the exchange between Victor and Walton is a transformation of the setting of the mariner’s travels. The barren landscape of the North Pole lends itself to Victor’s cautionary tale about his careless creation of a living being. The polar setting is instrumental to this revelation because it strips away all distractions and pretenses and forces the protagonist to think critically about his life choices. Despite his ostensive ability to avoid a confrontation with the creature, Victor at first felt helpless because he did not view publicizing his creation as a viable option. Thus, much like the ancient mariner and Prometheus, Victor ends up receiving the punishment that he has earned when everything he loves is taken away from him. The following stanza of Coleridge’s poem mirrors Victor’s anxieties about his eventual reunion with the vengeful

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