Tag Archive: loving your dead mom

The Uncanny Mr. Frankenstein


According to Freud’s Oedipus Complex, infant boys feel attraction towards their mothers because they associate her with safety and comfort. But they feel a sense of rivalry towards their father because they associate him with threatening to taking away that comfort and safety that is the mother. So they feel the “unconscious desire to kill the father.” However, as they grow older the boy tries to find a way to win over the mother’s love (in a sexual way?) by “identifying” with his father. By doing so his desire to kill his father is repressed and he then grows up to live his adulthood as a heterosexual. As an adult he finds an “object” of replacement—in another woman—to displace the desire he has for his mother. However, if he doesn’t allow for this displacement he ends up becoming a homosexual.

When connecting this theory to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, one wonders how could these two possibly be connected? Well, on page 60 we see a hint of this since Victor describes the way he slaved over his experiment and the aftermath of doing so and what that reveals to himself. Just as others have said, in my own personal opinion I think Victor has a thing for the “forbidden.” To cement this statement, we go to the obvious example, Victor’s aspiring experiment is to bring to life a dead corpse of which he crafted to be the “perfect human being.” However, when his “perfect human” is brought to life he shuns it and disregards it acting as if it is the vilest thing he has ever seen. This shows that not only does Victor like to test the limits of life, but he enjoys playing around with dead bodies if and only if they are dead.  Which leads to my next point, when Victor has the dream about Elizabeth who turns into his deceased mother it goes to show that he in fact plays into Freud’s Oedipus Complex theory. Elizabeth who represents the “object” of replacement turns into his mother meaning that he must feel some kind of attraction towards her. And the fact that he wakes from the dream in horror with all kinds of ailments means that he knows there is something wrong with what he dreamed about. He knows that the fact that there is something wrong with the fact that the one living thing that he desires turns into desire for the dead thing he has unconsciously repressed. Therefore, by reanimating a corpse he is trying to justify that repressed desire for his dead mother. Basically, he is a necrophiliac due to repressed feelings for his mother that emerged when he was an infant and didn’t go away even after she died, uncanny isn’t it?

-Laura Mateo Gallegos

Till Death Do Us Part

Mahealani LaRosa

Everyone knows about Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, for his radical and controversial theories about sexuality, dreams, and unconsciousness. One of his most well-known and fought-over theories is the Oedipus Complex, which basically says that as a young child we desire our parent of the opposite sex because of envy or fear or disgust we have of or for the other parent. Freud proposes “the infant boy feels an attraction to his mother” and “look[s] at the father as a rival for the mother and thus as feeling an unconscious desire to kill the father, so as to have the mother to himself” (119). Now focus on that word ‘unconscious’. Freud believes that everyone has unconscious drives and desires, and that the repression of these urges is necessary to function properly and sanely in society. These ideas are expressed in his essay “The Uncanny”, where he says that the uncanny is something that “is not known and familiar” and uses the term uncanny when “discussing things that appear to slip outside of normal perceptions or normal assumptions” (418). If we psychoanalyze Victor Frankenstein, we can immediately see that he is has not fully repressed nor is unconscious of his illicit desires.

Incestuous thoughts are not uncanny to Freud, so Victor loving his cousin Elizabeth whom he affectionately calls ‘sister’ does not come as a surprise. However, Victor does have an uncanny dream where he “saw Elizabeth… imprinted a kiss on her lips, [but] they became livid with the hue of death; her features began to change and… [he] held the corpse of [his] dead mother in [his] arms” (60). Right away we can see signs of Oedipal desire, which once again, Freud does not find uncanny. What is wrong with this dream is that Frankenstein is conscious of it. His desire for his lover turned into a desire for his mother, and his dead mother at that. It makes sense that he would seek adoration from someone like Elizabeth, someone who is similar to his mother in not only her appearance but also in her habits and mannerisms, but it does not make sense that he knows he is doing this because of his desire for his dead mother. The final nail in the coffin is how Victor reacts to his dream, in which he says “a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and and ever limb became convulsed” (60). After a very close reading, one can come to the conclusion that all of these actions have very sexual connotations. Victor is explaining how he has become aroused by the idea of kissing his dead mother. It is obvious this is also causing him some anxiety as well, as he spirals downwards as the novel progresses. However this dream explains a lot about why Victor created the monster. His scientific drive is actually the repressed desire to bring his mom back to life. If he could bring something else perfect and beautiful back to life, then perhaps he could do the same with his mother. When his creature is not seamless and gorgeous as he had hoped, panic overtakes Frankenstein and his defeat and hopelessness are expressed through his dream. Victor knows he has failed, and he knows his maternal desire is wrong. It is like his unconscious is glitching. Parts of it are replaced by Elizabeth and science, but he is conscious that these are just replacements.

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