Homosexuality and Misogyny in Frankenstein
In Mary Shelley's novel, Victor Frankenstein suffers an extreme psychological crisis following his violation of what is considered a fundamental biological principle. His creation of life undermines the role of women in his life and the role of sexuality, and allows existing misogynist and homosexual tendencies to surface. Victor represses what he has uncovered about himself, and it merges into a cohesive whole in his psyche that becomes projected on the instrument of revelation, the monster.
Victor's creation allows him to split his sexuality into independent components. There are three fundamental purposes to sexuality ...view middle of the document...
When Victor's mother dies, she says to Elizabeth, in Victor's presence, "Elizabeth, my love, you must supply my place to your younger cousins." (828) Victor will now marry his mother, rather than his sister.
She begins with a gender-neutral title as his cousin, and then takes a gender specific, non-sexual role as his sister. She then replaces his mother, implying an indirect sexual relationship with Victor, since he is product of his mother's sexuality. Finally, she enters a sexual relationship with Victor as his future wife. Her murder then interrupts the progression by preventing the consummation of that relationship. In the 1831 version this progression of intimacy is strengthened. Elizabeth, while a small child, is presented to Victor by his mother as a gift. He takes responsibility for her, and takes pride in her achievements, like a father to a daughter. The father/daughter relationship is tied to sexual reproduction in the same way as the mother/son relationship. The progression from daughter to mother implies Victor's exit from her vagina as an infant, and then the next change from mother to wife implies a desire to re-enter her body as part of a sexual relationship.
Mary Shelley presents Victor engaging with Elizabeth in all social female roles: wife, mother, and sister. He is also presented as engaging with her body in all possible variations, creating her body through fatherhood, being formed out of her body as a child, and entering her body as a husband. She takes all female roles and therefore represents Victor's interaction with all of them. The incestuous nature of Victor's relationship with her, improving on Oedipus by marrying both his mother and his sister, give us good reason to believe that Victor may find heterosexual relationships distasteful and nauseating.
When Victor creates the monster, Victor has a dream in which he holds Elizabeth and kisses her, only to find that she has become his dead mother. Continuing, the image is of his mother's corpse in its shroud, being eaten by worms. In that moment, Elizabeth and Victor's mother are connected in the kiss, the only sexual interaction Victor has with a woman. As the communal female figure dies, Victor awakes, and the first thing he sees upon opening his eyes is the monster, lifting the bed-curtains and reaching one hand out towards him, as if to detain him.
The monster has entered the room, and bent down to lift the bed-curtains. This implies bending at the waist for a horizontal torso. Given his position, and since Victor sees the monster as trying to "detain" him, the monster's hand is presumably extending palm down over Victor's body. This is significant in that the two classic features of extending a hand in friendship, to a human being or a dog, for that matter, are to place the hand palm up or extend it from below, not the highly threatening gesture of lowering a hand from above. Since he does not actually...