Frankenstein’s creature goes through the normal human state according to Lacan, but he chooses the wrong image to identify with first and is unable to reconcile his ideal with his reality.

Lacan believes that during infancy, we experience the “mirror stage” and identify with an image, or imago, we see in the mirror so that we can project the qualities of the portrait onto our own. Because we feel physical constraints and cannot attain the perfection of that image, we improve ourselves to reach it, hiding weakness behind it. The creature was at one point in an undeveloped mental state, as evidenced when he tells Frankenstein: “It is with considerable difficulty that I remember the original era of my being,” (95). Like our own memories of infanthood, he has trouble recalling the way his life was initialized and defined by this time period. As the creature defines himself, the people of the homestead provide an image that impresses the creature with their beauty and grace (104). As the first intelligent beings he could observe at length, the cottage-dwellers were the closest thing to a mirror image that he could pattern himself on without the help of a glass.

When given a mirror, the creature is shocked at his visage, even though it is something he had lived with his whole short life. “At first I started back, unable to believe that it was indeed I who was in the mirror,” (104). The creature sees the people of the farmstead as his imago and ideal self-image, so he cannot identify with his actual appearance. The imago, which is supposed to comfort by how familiar it is, becomes unfamiliar because the creature can no longer associate it with himself. The monster must instead pattern himself on a lesser image, losing the ability to identify with the wholesome aspects of the human imago. Of these, the creature shows jealousy: “The more I saw of them, the greater became my desire to claim their protection and kindness,” (118). The creature sees the benefits as outside of himself, theirs but not his, yet he still desires their qualities. He aspires to be the image, but unlike those whose imago is a mirror of the self, his actuality is different enough that he knows he cannot reach the goal. This angers him, and so he is alienated by his own ugliness, or rather, by how different his face in the mirror is from the faces of humans he saw first.