The numerous reports of bombings, burglary, racism and even murderthat fill the media headlines enhance one`s pessimistic attitudetowards another human being. Such reports give less hope of peopleco-existing in harmony and peace. As humans, individuals are inclinedtowards evil behavior. Man is perceived evil in nature, but thanksto education one can see the goodness in society. Mary Shelly in herbook Frankenstein and Aeschylus in PrometheusBound have brought out instances that make anindividual or society evil.
Frankenstein as a Representation of Evil
Frankenstein is an avid example of science fiction, which is infusedby the gothic novel. He is a young scientist who experimented bycreating a sapient creature. Frankenstein is often referred to as themonster because, in the book itself, words such as demon or wrenchare used to identify the monster (Shelley 2). As an eminentscientist, Frankenstein created a hideous creature with yellow eyesthat later awakens to co-exist with man. The monster escapes andlater finds Frankenstein and explains to him how humans feared himand hated him due to his physical appearance. This is an explicitrepresentation of how society or individuals are evil. They scorn themonster and attack him based on the assumption that he is an ogre.This shows how ignorant and uneducated the society can sometimes be.
The society sentences Victor Frankenstein wrongly for the death ofhis brother, William. He is killed unjustly based on the presumptionthat he could be the only one with a motive for committing themurder. This is despite the fact that Victor knows it is the monster,which is responsible. The monster burnt down the cottages of thelow-income families due to rage that was spurned from rejection. Evilis also evident in the fact that there was segregation of the poorpeople who lived in the woods. The society judges a person based onwealth. The monster demands a female companion and threatens to killFrankenstein’s remaining family. This shows selfishness and lack ofselfless nature on the side of the monster.
Frankenstein runs away from his creation when it comes to life. Thisis an indication of irresponsibility on man’s side for his actions.He did not nurture the monster or shelter it. Moreover, he alsorefused to provide a partner because he did not think the monster hada right to happiness. Frankenstein continuously rejects the demand ofthe monster because he thought it would aggravate its evil nature.However, the monster threatens him due to the failure of meeting hisdemands. This is seen when the monster tells Frankenstein that hewill be with him on his wedding night (Shelley 20).
The society has labeled the monster as a savage, yet it was morehuman than most individuals and witty by the mere fact that it couldwalk and talk intelligently. Frankenstein was determined to kill themonster for murdering his wife. He does everything to try to destroyit because he had no use for it. This reveals how individuals disposeof things once they gain what they need. It also shows how society isskewed.
Prometheus Bound Explanations
In the trilogy, Prometheus is punished even though he led the victoryover the Titans by Zeus. Zeus portrays ultimate betrayal because heneither honored friendship nor was he sympathetic. Prometheus ispunished for his discovery of fire and the love for humanity(Aeschylus X). This reflects the fact that an individual can turnagainst the other regardless of the friendship. One can break therules of friendship as long as it benefits him or her. Zeus believedthat he was the ultimate ruler, and so, everyone obeyed him. Worse,he felt no remorse even to close friends. The play asserted to thevalue of friendship. Zeus ideas were misguided in the sense that itis better to be appreciated and loved rather than being feared.Personal gains make man evil in nature.
The play indicates the struggle of supremacy between Zeus andPrometheus. They were both stubborn in nature. Prometheus would notsubmit to Zeus, and in turn, Zeus would not relent in his punishments(Aeschylus XV). The man is evil in the sense of excesses and the needto be equal regarding power. For a society to prosper, there is aneed for cooperation and mutual understanding. Prometheus was verydefiant and proud this is evident in man most of the time.Prometheus rebellious nature led to his downfall.
Zeus as a leader was obsessed with power and being in control whichis viewed throughout the play. He ruled with totalitarianism and didnot listen to anyone. Aeschylus tried to show that power can make aperson evil and corrupt his or her mind. Prometheus, on the otherhand, was arrogant in the sense that he believed Zeus would need hisprophetic talent, and therefore, he felt important (Aeschylus XV). Hethought that Zeus would not kill him because he needed his expertise.Zeus saw the love of humanity that Prometheus had been too much and abetrayal to the gods. Consequently, he ordered that he be chained.Zeus had no regard for humankind because all he needed was power andcontrol.
Epimetheus, the brother to Prometheus, designed creatures carelesslyand bestowed all the gifts to the animals instead of men. He did notsee the need for man to possess such gifts. He overlooked the hardwork of Prometheus in creating man and his willingness to seehumanity expand.
Contrast between Frankenstein and Prometheus
The two books display how man is evil but on different levels.Prometheus is praised for being proud and rebellious and disobeyingauthority. The fact that he stole fire was also praised. InAeschylus, evil is somewhat glorified due to the presumed goodresult. In this case taking is an evil deed, yet the fire stolen wasfor the benefit of humanity. Authority is meant to be respected underany circumstance. Prometheus protest is praised because of hisstrength to stand up for what he believes even if it meansoverlooking the ruler.
In Shelley`s book, evil is projected to the society whereFrankenstein is seen to have committed a crime against humanity bycreating a monster. The monster brings out the evil nature of societythrough the constant rejection. The play, Prometheus, exhibits eviland condemns it through different choruses that are seen as the storytranspires. For Frankenstein, the concept of sin revolves around theidea of creation. He is seen to take up the role of God as a creatorand that of Satan as a destroyer of the creation, which is consideredas blasphemy. He crafted it to the best of his ability to try andresemble man, although this did not emerge as expected. InPrometheus, the concept of evil lies on punishment and friendship. Heis condemned to dungeons for not following the Zeus orders, and theircode of friendship is broken
The two stories are different in the sense that Frankenstein createdthe monster, which he later tried to escape from. He created evil butwas not ready to take up the responsibility towards it. In the worksof Prometheus, evil is created, but there is no escape from it it isfaced head-on.
Mary Shelley and Aeschylus have both demonstrated the evil nature ofman and what makes man evil. Examples include the selfishness of man,skewed judgment of fellow men and arrogance. The crafting ofcreatures is seen in the two books. The difference is also noted inthat one is a play and the other a book. Frankenstein evil centers oncreation. Conversely, in Aeschylus’s work, evil is based onpunishment.
Aeschylus, Deborah Roberts. Prometheus Bound. Indianapolis:Hackett Publishing, 2012. Shelly, Mary. Frankenstein. London:Evans Brothers Limited, 2010.