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Freudian Symbols in Frankenstein

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley contains many classic Freudian symbols that give the reader insights into the character of the monster and the man whom the monster represents--Frankenstein. The literature research paper reports that Freud feels that phallic symbols in dreams represent a sort of repressed sexuality. Indeed, Shelley’s novel is loaded with phallic symbols. Frankenstein sees, for example, grave worms when he dreams of his mother. This could perhaps be interpreted as his incestuous but unfulfilled desire of her, detailed in “The Oedipal Complex,” below.

Freudian Symbols in Frankenstein

Another dream symbol that Freud feels is relevant is that of the giant. The monster could certainly be considered a giant, or to at least have a superhuman strength. In Freudian terms, this symbol represents the dreamer’s actualization of the powerlessness of his childhood. This was definitely the case with respect to Frankenstein. Readers learn early on that his parents were especially controlling; they set him up to marry Elizabeth, for example, the orphan girl whom they had adopted. Frankenstein had no choice.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is rich with many comments about society and psychology.  Since it is a novel--which is to say that it is a fantasy and a work of fiction-- one can certainly analyze it as if it were a dream. Indeed, it is rich with psychological metaphors and symbolism.  This is especially true when one interprets the psychological meaning of the monster using the notions that Sigmund Freud outlined in his book, Interpretation of Dreams.

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