Tag Archive: dream


Dark Desires

By: Carmen Ibarra

Victor Frankenstein’s dark desire for his deceased mother correlates back to Freud’s theory of uncanny stating that ” all humans have homosexual and heterosexual desires as part of their polymorphous perversity, but some of those drives remain unconscious, while other, more conscious…” 117 When Frankenstein first describes his dream he starts it with visualizing himself kissing Elizabeth (which he considers her to be his sister) later on Elizabeth disappears and he goes into detail about how he’s feeling when he is dreaming about his deceased mother is in his arms. “…a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed…” 60 basically Victor was having a dark desired dream of his mother and Elizabeth.

In my personal opinion, I don’t believe we sexually desire our parents and compete with our parent growing up, however, when we do grow up we look for someone like our parents (if that parent was a strong figure in our lives). We search for someone with similar characteristics, such as someone who can be as respectful, caring, and loving as our parent is to us. It’s disturbing to have that kind of mentality that we sexually desire our parents enough to search for a partner like them, but in Frankenstein, we obviously do see that there is this kind of mentality and he does sexually desire his mother and loves Elizabeth because she is much like his mother.

Freaky Victor

As I understood, the uncanny was the fear of the familiar when it becomes mysterious and unfamiliar. The uncanny can be related to the repressed thoughts humans have, for instance sexual thoughts towards a family member. These thoughts can become uncanny even though we are aware if them, especially if others were to take notice of them. Hearing them expressed out loud makes the thoughts uncanny and makes you wonder what kind of person you really are. You feel as if you’ve done something wrong and disgusting, which is correct.

In order to understand Victor’s dream we must keep in mind that he seems very okay with the idea of being romantically involved with family, seeing as Elizabeth is part of his family. In the views of Freud, Victor is clearly showing signs of the Oedipal complex and confusion about the female body. This theory states that young children desire the parent of the opposite sex and despise the parent of the same-sex to the extent of wanting them dead. There is also the idea that males fear castrarion and believe thier mother’s have gone through it.

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When we examine Victor’s wild dream, we can see very clearly a part of his life he has repressed, his desire and attraction towards his mom, and the dead. During the dream, Elizabeth becomes the “corpse if his dead mother,” (60) which causes him to awaken in shock. Although Victor’s dream fits the Oedipal theory, it seems that something went wrong in Victor’s case. Instead of wanting his father dead, he also seems to have no problem with a dead mother. With this theory in mind, we can conclude that Victor never understood why his mom had no penis and those thoughts became repressed in his mind. He therefore searches for his mother, even after death in order to get answers. As a result of this confusion, he is unable to accept Elizabeth.  He doesn’t know the answer to his question, “why do females have no penis?” Victor doesn’t undersand the female body, which can also be a reason the creature he creates is male and not female, furthermore it could also be why he never built the creature a female partner too, because he didn’t know how.

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By Galilea Sanchez

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After bearing witness to the monstrosity he had created, Victor attempts to cure his repulsed feelings in the dream world. Unfortunately, this course of action instead produces one of his “wildest dreams” (60). Truly uncomfortable and unnerving, he must witness his dear sister Elizabeth transform into the dead, rotting corpse of his mother in his very arms as “a shroud enveloped her form, and I saw the graveworms crawling in the folds of the flannel” (60). Though it is a chilling image to be sure, it perfectly encapsulates Sigmund Freud’s twisted psychoanalytic theory of the Oedipus complex.

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At its core, the Oedipus complex suggests that between a certain age in a child’s life, they will aspire to possess the parent of the opposite sex out of strong desire while wanting to kill the parent of their own sex out of jealousy. This uncanny concept is fitting for an uncanny dream, as they are both “frightening precisely because it is not known and familiar,” as explain by Freud himself in his essay “The Uncanny” (418). Surely enough, Victor wakes up from this uncanny nightmare “with horror; a cold dew covered [his] forehead, [his] teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed,” unable to grasp the intensity of his deranged psyche. In actuality, his nightmare falls in line with the “dream-work” process by using the Oedipus complex to create a representation of Victor’s deep desires. As suggested by the Oedipus complex, his dream depicts his mother as a dead corpse he holds dearly in his arms, mirroring his utmost desires of reanimating a dead corpse in reality. The dream, having occurred immediately after seeing the truth of his horrible creation, represents his dangerous desires through Freud’s theory, giving it an uncanny effect that fills Victor’s heart with fear soon afterward.

–Jose Ramirez

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I haven’t seen Kenneth Branagh’s 1994 film version of Frankenstein, so honestly I’m not too sure what’s going on in that scene up there. I mean, yes, that’s Victor and Elizabeth clearly having a moment. But I wonder, is Elizabeth dead in that picture?

She probably isn’t, but hear me out — the only times Victor shows intense passion for Elizabeth (in Mary Shelley’s 1831 book, at least) is during his particularly vivid dream (which I’ll get to) and after Elizabeth’s dead, when he “rushed towards her, and embraced her with ardour” (168), observing “the deadly languor and coldness of the limbs” (Shelley 168).

Now, that dream. In it, Victor’s walking the streets of Ingolstadt, when suddenly he see Elizabeth “in the bloom of health” (61). He recounts, “Delighted and surprised, I embraced her; but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the hue of death, her features appeared to change, and I thought that I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms” (61).

Sigmund Freud would have a field day with this one. Believing that dreams were fuzzy windows into the unconscious, Freud analyzed dreams to find repressed bestial desires now made into altered, more acceptable forms. According to Freud, “every emotional affect, whatever its quality, is transformed by repression into morbid anxiety” (Freud 429), and if this repressed object recurs and causes anxiety, then it’s considered uncanny. Yup, Victor’s sure sounds like an uncanny dream.

So why this dream now? Why would Victor think of his dead mother now? Well, this happens just after he’s given life — given birth — to his creation. And remember, one of the biggest reasons he decided to do this whole thing was because he thought, “if I could bestow animation upon lifeless matter, I might in process of time (although I now found it impossible) renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption” (Shelley 58).

Because the death of his mother absolutely wrecked him. In fact, Victor calls it “that most irreparable evil” (50). In describing his mother’s nursing of Elizabeth from scarlet fever (which ultimately kills her), he details, “Elizabeth was saved, but the consequences of this imprudence were fatal to her preserver” (49). Imprudence? Ouch. For every tender word he uses to describe Elizabeth, this speaks volumes. Undoubtedly, Victor has not gotten over the death of Caroline Frankenstein, “this best of women” (49). Worse, Caroline straight-up tells Elizabeth (really, the reason she’s dying in the first place) to replace her, as she says, “Elizabeth my love, you must supply my place to my younger children” (49).

And in a way, Elizabeth does. She is the sole madam and caretaker and ultimately wife of the Frankenstein house. But she’s also inadequate. Victor’s affections clearly remain with his dead mother, shown through Elizabeth transforming into Caroline in his dream as well as his obsession with animating dead matter. Because of Victor’s repressed resentment for Elizabeth, she cannot fully replace Caroline as mother and lover.  And most telling of all, Victor, ever the egomaniac, takes on this pursuit on his own, taking the role of mother in forming the creation. Pretty sure that didn’t work out so well either.