by Alex Luna

Freud’s theory of the uncanny preaches of our “unconscious desires” including but not limited to wanting to have sex with your parents and wanting to murder people on sight. In relation to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, we can see major components of Freud’s theories through Victors short but memorable dream sequence. This scene reveals how Victor’s motivations in creating the creature lie in his unconscious sadness of the loss of his mother, motivating him to create the ultimate breakthrough in science to make up for his ultimate loss in life.

Victor, disgusted after creating the creature, decides to go to sleep. In his dream, he “saw Elizabeth, in the bloom of health, walking in the streets of Ingolstadt.” The phrase “in the bloom of health” is interesting here, because it reveals what Victor notices about her. Not her clothes, not the fact that she is there, but the fact that she is healthy, is what matters to him. This represents the ideal of beauty to Victor, and to probably most people, a healthy individual.  This immediately comes crashing down for him however, in the following lines. As Victor goes in to kiss her she “became livid with the hue of death…and I thought I held the corpse of my mother.” Here is where we begin to see Freud’s theories of the unconscious be reflected through Victor. Freud believed that dreams were a window into the unconscious desires of man, and through this moment we can see Victors unconscious desires take form. Victor’s mom had practically no impact on his life, so for what seemed like Elizabeth to transform into his mom’s corpse is interesting, because it reflects Freud’s theories of how men unconsciously desire their own mothers from a young age. While Victor didn’t really have a relationship with his mother, he still unconsciously desires a mother figure, as it was his ultimate loss in life. Since he has experienced the loss of a loved one through death, he now sees “blooming health” as an object of beauty, or immortality. Now, he wants to make up for his ultimate loss, by attaining the ultimate breakthrough in science to create life. Victor then depicts a “shroud enveloped her form, and I saw the grave worms crawling in the folds of the flannel.” This description is a complete contrast from the description with Elizabeth, so it shows how Elizabeth in a way has fulfilled the mother role that Victor always unconsciously desired. Unfortunately for Victor, his motivations become his undoing, because his “ultimate creation” becomes another form of torment for him. Freud’s theories of the uncanny end up being echoed through Victor’s dream and actions, unconsciously due to his desire to have a mother figure which results in Victor having his strong ambition.

oedipus