Modern Male Subjectivity and The Uncanny in Frankenstein College

In her novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley analyzes the fragmented sense of self that presupposes contemporary male subjectivity under capitalism, thus anticipating a psychological condition that Freud only gave language to a century later. Freud’s language regarding the mind—specifically, the separation of the mind into the subsections of id, ego, and superego—is useful in deconstructing the function of both Frankenstein and his monster in a larger commentary about the changing economic structure of nineteenth century England. Written during the emergence of the capitalist bourgeoisie in England, the novel explores the changing human condition as men were forced to repress certain humanistic urges in order to be socially accepted by the rigid class structure of the time. Frankenstein’s monster acts as a physical manifestation of that which he represses and, in the same way, of his mind’s id—or center of desire. Furthermore, the societal expectations of nineteenth century England act as a superego—or the moral conscience—which dictate his actions and require repression in exchange for social acceptance. Victor’s conscious thoughts and actions represent an ego of sorts, negotiating the desires of the id and the demands of the...

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