2010 09 10 Fiona Mcintosh Author Interview 2
Nevertheless, for the more literal of readers, such as your author, there appear to be two primary themes in the book. One relates to the subtitle or alternate title of the novel, The Modern Prometheus. Even though Prometheus is never mentioned in the novel, Mary Shelley’s intent is clear. In Greek mythology, Prometheus was a god who stole the secret of ﬁre from Zeus and gave it to mankind. Zeus then punished Prometheus for his deﬁance by having him tied to a rock.
Each day, a great eagle ate Prometheus’ liver, a very painful experience, and each night the liver grew back, only to be eaten again the next day by the eagle. By analogy, Victor Frankenstein discovered (or stole) the secret of life from the Creator, something man should never have done. Victor is punished for his sins by the deaths of those closest to him, including his wife Elizabeth, his best friend Henry Clerval and his younger brother William, before Victor himself perishes.
There is another version of the Prometheus legend which has Prometheus creating man out of clay, a story which could also apply to the alternate title of Mary Shelley’s novel, but since that use by Shelley of Prometheus in the title would be descriptive, rather than thematic, the better known version of the Prometheus story will be discussed herein.