According to Freud, the uncanny encompasses the realm of the unknown, more specifically dealing with humanity’s general trepidation towards the uncovering of certain hidden or concealed things within ourselves, often regarding hidden memories of ours from the past. It is the “revelation of what is private and concealed, of what is hidden” (class notes), confirming the oft-personal nature of the uncanny. What is concealed can even be hidden unintentionally from ourselves: the mind represses certain memories/experiences from the past, so whatever uncovers these experiences, which generally hearken back to our earliest years, represents the uncanny. Such repressed material from our early days, according to Freud, can be reflected through an “uncanny double” (a doppelganger)–its roots springing from our “narcissistic self-love” (class notes) cultivated in our childhood–which is a mental image/projection/persona of ourselves that we form (either intentionally or, more often, unintentionally)–for ourselves in order to define the way we see ourselves. The super-ego is related to this concept as well, projecting “all the things it represses onto this primitive image of the double. Hence the double in later life is experienced as something uncanny because it calls forth all this repressed content” (class notes).

This is what confronts the creature when he looks at a reflection of himself in a pool. He “admired the perfect forms of [the cottagers he had been observing]– their grace, beauty, and delicate complexions: but how was I terrified, when I viewed myself in a transparent pool!” (104). He was at first “unable to believe that it was indeed [him] who was reflected in the mirror,” which is a sign of the uncanny double because this whole time the creature has been yearning for acceptance from the hostile humans around him, and this desire to connect stretches all the way back to its “birth” in Victor Frankenstein’s lab. Victor created the creature in a human image (in Victor’s mind, at least), and of course that did not go as planned, but with the creature’s “eyes… were fixed on [him]” (61). The creature likely saw Victor and saw him, a human and his creator, as the ideal in looks. He associated himself as a human and constantly tried to associate with other humans as well, but he finally confronts his true appearance through the reflection on the pool and sees pure hideousness. He sees himself this way based on his ideal perception of appearance, which he formed way back when he first came alive through Victor and subsequent other humans. This is his now-uncovered “uncanny double,” which was the mental image/projection/persona he created for himself to reflect the way he saw and perceived himself– as a human, like everyone else he saw. This is why he was disgusted by his appearance: because he had a prior, already-crafted self-image of himself that was uprooted by his real, actual self-image in the reflection, uncovering his repressed “uncanny double.” It is also why he still would want others to overlook his physical deformities because at the end of the day, he still wants to be accepted by others, as evidenced by his eventual entry into the cottagers’ house in order to finally gain acceptance from them (which, of course, does not go as planned for him).

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