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The Promethean Ambition

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Isabeau Plastow

on 10 February 2015

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Transcript of The Promethean Ambition

How is this related to Frankenstein?
The full title of the novel 'Frankenstein' is actually "Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus". Mary Shelley uses the tale of Prometheus in her novel by making Victor seek what he did. Victor obtains the knowledge on how to bring things to life such as Prometheus did. Doing such is not meant for humans to do. Victor IS Prometheus in a sense.
What is the Philosophers Stone?
The Philosophers Stone is a legendary substance in alchemy that is believed to turn inexpensive metals into gold or silver. Believed to hold the secret of the universe. It is also believed to conclude the 'Great Work' of alchemy.
Philosopher's Stone Modern Day
As mankind began to learn more and more, in the 19th century, only the metaphor of the stone remained. While many believed it was a change from Metal to Gold, it soon became Life to Death.
The Philosophers Stone seen Metaphorically
The philosophers stone became a metaphorical symbol for the full potential of ones spirit. It's meant to bring one's basic and imperfect spirit (symbolized by the base metals) to one of perfection and enlightenment (symbolized by the gold)
Discussion Questions
The Promethean Ambition & The Philosophers Stone
Who acknowledged the Philosophers Stone?
The King of Bohemia, Rudolf II (1552-1612), finding himself in a financial crisis, invested heavily in the finding of the stone.

Saint Jnaneshwar (1275-1296), a great Hindu sage, believed that the stone was a symbol for God (or Shiva), and that god himself made the body gold.

Famous scientist and mathematician, Issac Newton, practiced alchemy. After his death in 1727, many of his written papers were not released to the public. The papers were later rediscovered in the 20th century and showed that many of his laws came from his work in alchemy.
By: Isabeau Plastow, Rachel Mcloughlin,
& Madeleine Maligsa

Who was Prometheus?
In Greek mythology, Prometheus was a Titan. During the war between the Titans and Gods, Prometheus sided with Zeus. Since he sided with Zeus, he was spared any punishment.
Prometheus shaped Man-kind out of mud while Athena brought them life
Prometheus stole fire from the Gods and gave it to mankind.
Fire was forbidden from the Humans, and Zeus punished Prometheus by chaining him to a rock and torturing him for an eternity.
Unchained from the rock by Hercules.
What's the definition of "Promethean"?
1) To Relate to Prometheus
2) To be boldly creative or original
3) To resemble Prometheus in spirit or in actions
Ok, but what exactly is the Promethean Ambition?
The Promethean Ambition is exactly what it sounds like, it's to be able to do what Prometheus had done. This being said, the Promethean Ambition is to be able to make a new species of life. Since Prometheus created man-kind, those who wish to follow The Promethean Ambition wish to create a species even better than the one before. In this case, if one were to follow it now, they would want to create a species better than man-kind.
Quotes the demonstrate Promethean
"I have described myself as always having been embued with a fervent longing to penetrate the secrets of nature." -PG 31

"So much has been done, exclaimed the soul of Frankenstein - more, far more, will I achieve: treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation." -PG 39
Philosophers Stone & Medicine
When paired with the elixir of life, the philosophers stone is believed to cure all diseases. Along with the fact that it could banish disease from existence, it is also believed to make people immortal.
How does the Philosophers Stone relate to Frankenstein?
The philosophers stone is related to Frankenstein because of the fact that it is believed to improve the being of something. For example, with the philosophers stone, Frankenstein could improve Man-kind and create an entirely new species of humans. With this stone, Victor can travel past the limits of Mankind, relating back to Prometheus.
Quotes that connect the Stone & Frankenstein
"Under the guidance of my new preceptors , I entered with the greatest diligence into the search of the philosophers stone and the elixir of life; but the latter soon obtained my undivided attention. Wealth was an inferior object; but what glory would attend the discovery, if I could banish disease from the human frame, and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death." PG32
1) Why do you think Mary Shelley was inspired by the story of Prometheus?

2) If the philosophers stone was obtainable by Victor, do you believe he would use it on himself, to make himself immortal?

3) Why do you believe there were so many different interpretations of the Philosophers stone?

4) Why do you think Victor wanted the glory & not the wealth?

5) How do you think Prometheus & The Philosophers Stone relate to eachother?
"A Cultural History of Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus." Mtholyoke.edu. Mount Holyoke College, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
"Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature - Remaining Silent." Nlm.nih.gov. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
"FRANKENSTEIN: THE MODERN PROMETHEUS." Http://mural.uv.es/. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
"The Great Work Begins Here: How to Transform Your Life Using Ancient Alchemy." Alchemylab.com. Alchemy Lab, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Newman, William R. "Promethean Ambitions: Alchemy and the Quest to Perfect Nature." Press.uchicago.edu. University of Chicago Press, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
"Philosophers Stone." Crystalinks.com. Crystal Links, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.
"The Philosophers Stone of Alchemy." World Mysteries Blog. World Mysteries, 9 Apr. 2011. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
"Philsopher’s Stone & Elixir of Life." Http://www.lib.udel.edu/. University of Deleware, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
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