Tag Archive: Oedipal

Sabrina Vazquez

Wanting for More

             Victor Frankenstein’s relationship with his mother specifically, is one that is complex to say the least. In his dream he demonstrates that he has seriously lacked a maternal figure in his life. Since Frankenstein has grown up without his mother, it could be understood that him creating the creature would be to somehow replace her. Frankenstein’s mother is a familiar being someone he was born from, yet unfamiliar because she died early on in his life. His desire to be close to his mother, and not being able too could lead to the sexual aspect of his dream. Frankenstein’s strange Oedipal desire in his dream is the result of his wanting for a mother; who is unattainable because she of course has been dead for some time. In his dream he said to have thought to have seen Elizabeth, and then embraced her, ’thought’ being the key word (Shelley 60). Frankenstein embracing her although he only thought to have seen her, shows his need to be close to a woman and his want for nurturing. It could then be said that his love and want for Elizabeth was just a filler for his dead-mother. Victor Frankenstein’s actions (from creating the monster, to marrying Elizabeth) demonstrate the lengths he was willing to go to fulfill his desire for his mother’s features; but was unable to obtain which ended in his death.

Mother Son Silhouette

The Uncanny Dream

Sigmund Freud’s theory of the uncanny can be seen through Victor Frankenstein’s “wildest dream,” in which he saw his cousin Elizabeth and “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” (60).

In Freud’s theory of the uncanny, he explains the Oedipal desire, as infant boys feel an attraction to their mother, seeking his mother’s love and thus displacing this desire for their mother with another woman who is similar to his mother, after sensing that an attraction to the mother is uncanny. Furthermore, Freud’s idea of the return of the repressed explains that repressed feelings, (in Victor’s case, those of his mother) can appear in the form of dreams, because sleep relaxes the repressions and allows the impulses of the unconscious to pop up in dreams. However, these dreams may not always present the unconscious ideas directly, because there still remains a compromise between impulse and repression. Freud’s idea of repetition compulsion explains that people deal with their repressed feelings through the replacement or creation of similar, yet less uncomfortable things or processes.

Victor’s wildest dream exposes his Oedipal desire and the return of the repressed. Although Victor was “delighted” to embrace and kiss Elizabeth, she quickly turns into the corpse of his dead mother, evidently revealing that his desire is truly for his mother’s corpse, and Elizabeth is the mere compromise between his impulse and repression. His desire for his dead mother is clearly repressed because he reacts from this dream “with horror; a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed” (60). Because Elizabeth however, is alive, she cannot accurately fulfill these uncanny, repressed desires. Therefore, repetition compulsion comes in and reveals the relation between Victor’s desire to animate a corpse, in order to replace his repressed and rooted desire for his dead mother. Thus, the theme of desire in the novel is highlighted through Freud’s psychoanalyst theory of the uncanny.

-Serena Ya

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.

Related image

By Galilea Sanchez

Loss is a prominent and central figure within Victor’s life, a thought worth mentioning as it could very well be the reason that he finds himself immersed in the work of animating a lifeless corpse. That being said, Sigmund Freud’s ideas and philosophy become present within the passage on page 60 as Victor experiences a disturbing dream about his mother and Elizabeth, much like that of Freud’s Oedipal desire. In the Oedipal desire, Freud recognizes the importance of a mother relationship, however in this case, a relationship that isn’t maternal.

In the dream, he begins with the company of Elizabeth, a woman he refers to as his cousin, yet later marries. He is nothing but affectionate toward her and within what seems to be just a second, the image of Elizabeth is then replaced with his mother. Such a transformation, in the eyes of the Freud philosophy, can easily be seen as an implication of Victor’s inappropriate desire for his mother. In this case, Victor’s mother and Elizabeth are a lot alike as his mother was one of Elizabeth’s most prominent influencers. In other words, they share personality traits that are similar if not exactly alike and many would say that their resembling characteristics could be the reason that Elizabeth is replaced by his mother in the dream. However, those of the Freud philosophy would argue the opposite. They would argue that instead of his mother being an accidental replacement for Elizabeth, Elizabeth was an unconsciously intentional replacement for his mother.

Complexity and the relevance of Freud’s philosophy continues to make itself more obvious through the novel’s text as many would go on to say that his desire for his mother is also represented through his obsession for bringing the creature to life. Subtle symbols such as this sprinkle themselves across the novel, and the elements of Freud’s philosophy perceives them to be rather unsuitable and improper representations of Victor’s unconscious attachment to his mother.

-Kaylin Insyarath


The creature perceives its reflection differently when its talks about it on different times. However, an interpretation of the Creature’s monologue requires an understanding of the Oedipal dynamics at play in its frame of reference. The Creature wants a union, so to speak, with the isolated bubble of civilization depicted by the DeLacey family. However its desire is repressed by the judgment of Society as a whole that seems to the Creature as the arbiter of its fate. The very same overbearing and judgmental society governs the DeLacey family (as the creature finds out through Felix’s and Safie’s letters). So in the end, all the Creature desires is a severance of the connection between the DeLaceys and society and its judgment (which resonates with the father and the Father’s No), so that it may find its way to fulfillment without hindrance.

When the Creature first sees its reflection (p.104), it has just taken refuge from the overwhelming rejection it faced in the towns. The creature knows that it is undesired, but is in the dark when it comes to the reason. This blindness, so to speak, puts the creature in an uncanny atmosphere. But then over the course of time it observes and so learns the DeLaceys’ perception of beauty (which is the same for the society, for the most part). And then, equipped with some cognizance of aesthetics, when it sees its double in the water, the Creature for the first time realizes the reason behind its rejection. Even though the Creature’s encounter with its “double” is not strictly the Freudian understanding of the concept (that a double embodies unacceptable desires/notions suppressed by the ego), the effect on the Creature’s conscious mind, be it from the resurgence of desires or merely from their apparition, is the same. Thus, the Creature, realizing that it is incompatible for the union it so desires, is filled with “despondence and mortification”. Therefore the creature’s disgust is born of frustration, and not of surrender to the whims of its Uncanny Double.

As the Creature spends time observing the DeLaceys, it matures. It learns to speak and read, and peruses several works on history and philosophy. It is almost as if the creature is in denial. The train of its thoughts stays clear of its depressing deformities for the most part of a year. It lives its life through Agatha, Felix, their father and Safie. However, after reading “Paradise Lost”, the creature is faced with the inequality between itself and another creation: Adam. This comparison, coupled with the creature viewing its reflection forces it in the uncanny position of facing its very recent but infantile past. However, the creature, now indoctrinated in the ways of men, is under the influence of the Super-Ego reserved only for members of society. And so when it labels itself a ” wretched outcast” (p.118), it is because the creature’s biased sources of education have left it no alternative.

In some cases, ignorance is bliss indeed.