Frankenstein

“To Be Answered Only With Groans”: Frankenstein’s Creature and the Language of Deferred “Desire”

Frankenstein’s Creature is, to be sure, an essential actor in the unraveling of Shelley’s narrative. For this reason, it is logical and arguably necessary to question his unnamed status throughout the novel. He is described as many things: a “monster,” a “wretch,” and a “thing such as even Dante could not have received,” but nonetheless remains officially nameless. Alone, feared, a social pariah at best, the monster is clearly in conflict with the rest of society, but more specifically, the fact that the Creature has no name underscores a further, more fundamental conflict with language itself. The defining aspect of the Creature is his struggle to find identity in a society that abhors him, yet because of the constraints engendered by society’s linguistics, his identity amounts to nothing more than a lack thereof, a void where a sense of wholeness might have been.

As the Creature becomes increasingly aware of himself as a separate and distinct entity, he falls subject to a socially and linguistically influenced set of metaphors and representations that attempt to locate him in relation to the social order, and in turn classify him as an individual. Of greater import, though, is the space between the Creature’s subjective...

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