In Frankenstein, the monster’s feelings when he sees himself reflected in the water are deeply indicative of displacement and social construction. Psychoanalytic criticism emphasizes the role of the unconscious and the hidden repression inherent in the monster seeing himself in the water. The uncanny conjures up a weird, foreign feeling yet strikingly familiar. Freud’s theory of dream distortion explicates this incident because the monster is actually a projection of Victor Frankenstein himself. The monster is how Victor actually sees himself, beneath all the layers of filtering and the repression. Victor “became fully convinced that I was in reality the monster that I am” and it is only with displacement that Victor can transfer all of his genuine thoughts and desires onto the monster, which is in actuality an artificial conjuration (pg. 104). Seeing his repugnant and grotesque form unmasks the primary narcissism present according to psychoanalytic criticism because the monster, or Victor is the center of his entire world. This incident gives us a glimpse into how Victor feels about himself. Because Victor’s recurring thoughts are omnipotent in his dreams, he sees himself in his truest form when he stares into the water because he observes a primordial beast. This primitive form of identification is emblematic of the uncanny. Victor’s observance induces horror because it’s only within his dreams that his fear of being castrated is exposed. He sees himself bare and the “miserable deformity” that he refers to is actually his castrated body exposed by the water (pg. 104).

While the monster certainly wants others to overlook this deformity, he is so disgusted at his image because that’s how he identifies in his unconscious. Victor has repressed these thoughts and fears about himself to the level that they only show up in his dreams, where Victor becomes the monster. This displaces all of his self-hate onto a creature, which is ostensibly detached but actually very real. Victor wants others to overlook his deprivations and in his dreams, the lack of a penis due to infantile fears. His identification as the monster signifies the identification of the child initially with his father in psychoanalytic terminology, but turns completely when he realizes that his father wants to castrate him. Victor, realizing his repulsive nature in his dreams, has already been castrated but longs to be accepted by his mother so he can ultimately have sex with her. The manifest content of this dream reveals itself because Victor has repressed this fear for so long in his unconscious.