Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Allusions in Frankenstein abound. This Frankenstein study guide analyzes how these allusions contribute to major themes in Frankenstein. [caption id=“attachment_130780” align=“aligncenter” width=“512”] Frankenstein at work in his laboratory - 1922[/caption] Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” tells the story of an ancient mariner who kills an albatross and brings upon himself and his ship’s crew a curse. The ancient mariner travels the world, unburdening his soul, telling his story to whomever needs to hear it. Shelley alludes to the poem several times. Robert Walton in Frankenstein is similar to the Wedding Guest from “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” with Victor Frankenstein playing the role of the mariner. As the mariner feels compelled to share his story to one who needs to hear it, so does Victor. The explicit theme in “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” that love conquers all, is a clue as to how the tragedy that occurs in Frankenstein’s life could have been avoided.
The Creation of Adam and Eve
Below are additional major themes and allusions in Frankenstein. The monster appeals to Frankenstein’s sympathy by comparing himself to Adam (the first man in the Bible):
- “Oh Frankenstein, be not equitable to every other and trample upon me alone, to whom thy justice, and even thy clemency and affection, is most due. Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel.” (94).
- The monster’s petition evokes sympathy, highlighting the guilt of his creator. These pleas highlight the irresponsibility of Victor Frankenstein and emphasize Victor’s guilt. If Frankenstein would only have loved his creation, the tragedy could have been avoided.
- “But it was all a dream; no Eve soothed my sorrows nor shared my thoughts; I was alone. I remembered Adam’s supplication to his Creator. But where was mine?” (127).
- The monster reminds Victor, once again, of his duty. Victor had become as a god, and must therefore act with mercy. The monster brings up Eve to emphasize his loneliness and to preface his request for a mate.
- “Sweet and beloved Elizabeth! I read and re-read her letter, and some softened feelings stole into my heart and dared to whisper paradisiacal dreams of love and joy; but the apple was already eaten” (186).
- The roles are reversed. It is Dr. Frankenstein who compares himself to Adam. The monster’s desire to make Victor as miserable as he is approaching completion.
The full title of the novel, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, emphasizes the theme of Victor as an overreacher, one who ascends further than his ability. In Greek mythology, Prometheus created man. As a modern Prometheus, Victor creates a new species. Prometheus feels love for his creation (unlike the modern Prometheus) overreaches and steals fire from Zeus. Zeus punishes Prometheus by chaining him to a rock for eternity and sending an eagle to eat his liver daily. Much like Prometheus suffers eternally, so must Victor Frankenstein.
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- Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. St. Paul, MN: EMC Corporation, 1998
- Image - Frankenstein at work in his laboratory
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