Frankenstein, Theories Of Literature Baylor University, Literature 202 Research

676 words - 3 pages

Theories in Frankenstein:
· Freud’s Theory of the ‘Divided Self’: The divided self consists of 3 parts of the human mind- The id (which contains basic instinctual drives, is the ‘dark, inaccessible part of our personality’ and ‘knows no judgement of value: no good and evil, no morality’, the subconscious in every mind and the basis of our behaviour), the conscious ego (‘attempts to mediate between the id and reality’… ‘obliged to cloak the unconscious commands of the id with it’s own rationalizations’) and the ego (contains reason whereas the id contains passion, and is the aspect of ourselves which is encouraged to be dominant in civilised society and ‘is pushed with feelings of guilt if the id is indulged too much’.
Links to Frankenstein?
The doppelganger between Frankenstein and the monster symbolise the id and the ego, the creature being the embodiment of Frankenstein’s subconscious mind and the darkest part of his personality. Quote to use as an example: "Such a man has a double existence: he may suffer misery and be overwhelmed by disappointments, yet when he has retired into himself, he will be like a celestial spirit that has a halo around him, within whose circle no grief or folly ventures" However, in the text they are physically divided by two separate bodies, which allows the id to act independently without the intervention of the ego, and so the monster is irrational and murders William, Henry and Elizabeth in passion. This affects Frankenstein’s reliability as a narrator, as the ‘ego’ he is able to edit the account of the monster’s tale to Walton; if the monster truly is a doppelganger of Victor then perhaps he has a hidden desire to kill those that are murdered by the monster, which he disguises through the fact the ‘id’ is responsible for their deaths. E.g. Victor’s father states he ‘could not love a child as much as your brother’ when referencing William, which could evoke jealousy in Victor? Additionally, Elizabeth praises Justine as ‘the most grateful creature in the world’, yet there is little praise of Victor; the jealousy may stem from Victor’s father’s abrupt dismissal of the ‘rubbish’ philosophical theories to which Victor’s teenage years are devoted to studying. ALSO, possible interpretation: over time the monster has been regarded as ‘Frankenstein’ rather than ‘Frankenstein’s monster’, this may perhaps be due to the development of Freud’s theories and hence the recognition by the reader that as the ‘id’ the monster fulfils the desires of the ‘ego’ and hence is the subconscious Frankenstein, and consequently Victor is outcast due to his poor attempt at intervening between the id and the ego.
· Habermas Theory of Literature
Habermas argues that literature is ‘the potential for transformation of the ways we look at the world, the people who act in it and the particular situations that shape them’, implying our personalities are shaped through the literature we are exposed to. Frankenstein concords to this theory, with the monster’s story being the starkest example. The monster is abandoned, ‘aborted’ by Victor, and so without human contact he is left to develop his personality solely from the reading of books. The main influence of the monster is Paradise Lost, which he says ‘gave me extreme delight: I continually studied and exercised my mind upon these histories’. The texts are the single link between the monster and the world of humanity. His vocabulary, his philosophical interpretations of the world are all formed as a result of this book. He exercises almost fully the model Habermas puts forth, as he explains ‘As I read.. I applied much personally to my own feelings and condition. I found myself similar, yet strangely unlike to the beings concerning whom I read’. The creature identifies with the characters and situations presented in the books he reads, and develops his own sense of individualism as a result. However, it is Victor’s responsibility that the monster cannot apply such understanding to situations within humanity, as he has been isolated, ‘Satan has his companions, but I am solitary and detested’.


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