Tag Archive: phallocentric

Blog Summary 2 – The Language of the Subaltern

Frankenstein’s monster learns the craft of language by carefully observing the interactions of a French peasant family, the De Lacey’s. Through this interaction, and a reversed Lacanian developmental stage, the creature becomes indoctrinated with the phallocentric colonialist discourse, believing it as fact.

            For Jacques Lacan, the mirror stage of development is marked by the creation of a child’s Ideal-I, and the change from the imaginary stage to the symbolic stage. The mirror stage occurs when a child sees an image or “imago”, typically its own reflection, and uses the image as a constant goal to strive for throughout life. For the creature, the mirror stage occurred atypically, and the monster unconsciously assigned the De Lacey family as its Ideal-I, “When I slept, or was absent, the forms of venerable blind father, the gentle Agatha, and the excellent Felix, flitted before me. I looked upon them as superior beings…” (105). If we take dreams, as Freud suggested, as when the unconscious comes through, then the creature’s dreams of the De Lacey family are representative of the creature’s assignment of them to the Ideal-I, which is further supported by the phrase “superior being”. The Ideal-I is unattainable, the child’s “superior being” which it can only attempt to match.

            In this period of growth, the creature also learns language. This is contrary to Lacan’s supposed steps because to him, language is an aspect of the symbolic order because it defers meaning to pre-existing words and clouds pure emotion. Because the creature learns language while in the imaginary state, it forever associates language and speech with the pure, infallible state of the imaginary order. When the creature eavesdrops on Felix’s lessons to Safie about history, he also interprets these lessons as factual, “I should not have understood the purport of this book had not Felix, in reading it, given very minute explanations” (108). The history is being told from Felix, a male member of the colonizers, to Safie, a female colonized. In that scenario, the creature and Safie become virtually identical, colonized peoples being taught the ways of the dominant culture, but in the creature’s case, he interprets this possibly filtered history as true. When he’s rejected from the De Lacey’s, he demands that Victor make him a female creature that he believes will undoubtedly stay with him, perhaps firmly believing the phallocentric discourse that Felix had taught, which would have emphasized female subservience.

            Because the creature’s imaginary and symbolic stages were reversed, he believes that language is a component of the imaginary state and is therefore infallible. This misconception causes his to wholeheartedly accept the phallocentric history that Felix had presented to Safie during her teachings.

Today in class students worked in groups to draw, collaboratively, three pictures that capture what Luce Irigaray calls the “Feminine,” that excess which undermines masculine phallocentric discourse and logic.

It would be great to have some comments to these posted pictures!


feminism photo 3


feminism photo 1


feminism photo 2