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[Student Name]

Ms. Lacey
December 9, 2014
Frankenstein meets the Mariner
Just as in Rime of the Ancient Mariner you do not learn the moral of Mary Shelleys
Frankenstein until the end. The point Mary Shelley has made is to learn from other peoples
experiences. With Frankenstein the story is told through three narrators. First, the creature tells
Victor his story of survival, then Victor tells Walton his life story, and finally Walton records the
story in letters to his sister. In the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the Mariner tells his story to
the wedding guest to remain free from the curse. Likewise, Prometheus is a story that when
read by the reader shows the example of what it is to be a responsible creator. The theme in
Frankenstein is that seeking glory can be dangerous. While Rime of the Ancient Mariner
tells us that the journey of discovery can be fatal, and Prometheus relates that being responsible
is the duty of a good creator.
The recurring theme from the beginning of Frankenstein is the need for glory. Walton
opens the story by stating this in one his letters, I preferred glory to every enticement that
wealth placed in my path (Shelley 17). He is suggesting that money does not hold a high of a
place as glory. He believes he will receive his glory when he discovers the new land he is
journeying toward. When Walton rescues Frankenstein he is mystified by finding this stranger in
the cold ice of the North Atlantic Ocean. Walton immediately is surprised and tells Frankenstein
about his quest for the new land. After Walton tells Frankenstein of his purpose, Frankenstein
replies, Unhappy man! do you dare share my madness? Have you drank also of the intoxicating
draught? Hear, me- let me reveal my tale, and you will dash the cup from your lips! (Shelley
28). At this point Frankenstein is trying to warn Walton so that by hearing his tale of misery he

may no longer place glory above all else. By Frankenstein telling his story to Walton, Walton is
compelled to relay it to his sister Margaret. This keeps the story alive as a cautionary tale about
trying to gain glory. Shelley uses this style to show the reader that knowledge is not dangerous,
but seeking glory from knowledge can result in fatality. This is shown by the way Frankenstein
sought glory by creating a new species through his scientific studies. In reality, he created a fiend
who killed his entire family.
The story of Prometheus relates the message of being a benevolent responsible creator. In
connection to Frankenstein Mary Shelley creates a new Prometheus who is not benevolent
towards his creature. In (re) writing the myth she is suggesting a what if scenario by using
Frankenstein as Prometheus and his creature as the mortals. In an article written by Harriet
Hustis titled Responsible Creativity and the Modernity of Mary Shelleys Prometheus she states
that Unlike Victor Frankenstein, who flees his creation in breathless horror and disgust ...
Prometheus understands that revulsion in the face of hideousness can only be overcome by an
indulgence in benevolent pity. Hustis is saying that Frankenstein could not bear to look at his
creation he would rather flee and abandoned than show Promethean pity and care for what he
created. Prometheus did many things for his creation, he even deceived Zeus when he, stole fire
and gave it to the primitive mortals on earth (poetry packet 13). Without the fire the mortals
he created would have died. Prometheus betrayed Zeus many more times and eventually was
punished for his benevolent actions. Frankenstein would never sacrifice himself for his creation
he felt that the creature was a disgusting being. When the creature comes to life he reaches
toward Frankenstein for comfort, and says, One hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me,
but I escaped, and rushed down stairs (Shelley 58). It is apparent he was appalled by what his
own hands created making it impossible for him to even set eyes on the creature. Frankenstein

seems so overwhelmed because what he intended to make was not at all what the creature turned
out like.
The tale of Rime of the Ancient Mariner is about discovery and the consequences of
your actions. Mary was very influenced by this story as is evident in how Frankenstein takes the
role of the Mariner and has to tell his tale to warn Walton. In the article titled Discovery and the
Domestic Affections in Coleridge and Shelley the author Michelle Levy says, And it is by telling
their tales that the Mariner, Frankenstein, and Walton further participate in projects of
discovery. She goes on to explain that the Mariners tale is turned into a poetic verse that will
be easily remembered, Frankensteins journal is studied by one of its first readers the creature,
and while Frankenstein is reciting his story Walton is taking notes so that he can relay the story
to his sister.
In Rime of the Ancient Mariner the Mariner is cursed while on his voyage to the South
Pole. This is caused by the shooting of the albatross, which is the bird praised to be a good
omen. Immediately after this his crew crys out, God save thee, ancient Mariner! From the
fiends, that plague thee thus! (Coleridge). His crewmates already know that what the Mariner
unconsciously has done is a bad omen and they are scared for their welfare. When referring
back to Frankenstein, Victor also considers himself a cursed man at one point he makes a
statement that is similar to when the albatross is placed around the Mariners neck. The statement
is made while he is thinking about his marriage, he says, Could I enter into a festival with this
deadly weight yet hanging round my neck, and bowing me to the ground? (Shelley 151). The
small difference between the stories is that the Mariner would rather have the curse lifted than
live with it. Although Frankenstein dies after recounting his story to Walton, this could be
considered a form of the curse being lifted since he is not alive to be accountable for the creature.

Through Frankenstein Mary Shelley has placed these stories together to create one solid
point that can simply be stated that learning from others is beneficial. When we hear someones
story we automatically remember it. By doing so we are better prepared for when we encounter
one of the situations we have been warned about. In Shelleys Frankenstein Walton was
counseled on his desire for glory, and soon realized that if he did not return to England he and his
crew would die. When Mary Shelley refers to Prometheus she shows us that if we are not kind to
each other we will become like Frankenstein and abandon our creations. The reason for Mary
Shelley referring to Rime of the Ancient Mariner is that we must love all of Gods creations
big and small if we do not we will become cursed for a lifetime.

Works Cited
Coleridge, Samuel T. Rime of the Ancient Mariner. In class poetry packet 5-12
Hustis, Harriet. Responsible Creativity and the Modernity of Mary Shelleys
Prometheus. Studies in English Literature 1500- 1900. V.43 No.4 (Autumn
2003) 845-858. Humanities. Riverside Comm. College Lib. 8 Friday. December.
Levy, Michelle. Discovery and the Domestic Affections in Coleridge and Shelley.

Studies in English Literature 1500-1900. V. 44 No. 4 ( Autumn 2004) 693-713

Humanities. Riverside Comm. College Lib. 8 Friday. December. 2006
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus. Ed. M.K. Joseph
Oxford New York: Oxford UP, 1998
Unknown Author. Prometheus in class poetry packet. 13-15