Crisman, William. “‘Now Misery Has Come Home’: Sibling Rivalry in Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein.’” Studies in Romanticism, vol. 36, no. 1, 1997, pp. 27–41
In the opening of his essay, Crisman explains that there are usually three interpretations of Frankenstein: the novel centers upon Shelley’s aggression towards her own parents, the monster’s creation symbolizes Shelley’s miscarriages and deaths of her infants, or it can be viewed as anger towards patriarchy and anxiety about maternity. Although Crisman does not disagree with these analyses, he takes a different approach to how Frankenstein should be interpreted. Instead of these typical analyses, Crisman explains that in actuality the novel is about sibling rivalry, both Shelley’s rivalry with her sister and Victor’s rivalry with his siblings. Throughout the novel Victor wishes to be an only child with all attention focused on him and his story. Victor feels his best when he is alone on the mountains and although he mourns William, for a short while, after his death Victor’s grief then turns into happiness as he spends his time on his mountains. Crisman states that Victor turns William’s tragedy into his own and that in order to fully understand the novel, the reader must view William’s death as “as an act of sibling aggression.” (34) In order to fully comprehend the sibling rivalry in the novel, we must read the monster as Victor’s Id, the holder of Victor’s primordial wants, needs, and desires. In doing so, the creation is not the murderer, instead Victor is. At the height of this sibling rivalry is the murders of William, Elizabeth, an adopted sibling, and Clerval, a man Victor views as his brother. To take it one step further, Crisman states that Captain Walton is not exempt from these feelings of sibling rivalry. After all, he is on a ship that will take him as far from his sister as possible. Additionally, even though his letters are addressed to his sister he has no expectation that they will actually reach her and refers to the letters themselves as his “journal.” By stepping away from typical interpretations of Frankenstein and creating his own unique analysis, Crisman forces the reader to view the novel in an entirely different way. This essay may be useful in examining the effect gender has on the novel. As it can be seen, it is ultimately the male siblings that hold all the power in the novel.
Bloom Bissonette, Melissa. “Teaching the Monster: Frankenstein and Critical Thinking” College Literature, Vol. 37, No.3, 2010, pp. 106-120
In a radical and unmatched approach, Melissa Bloom Bissonette examines various methods teachers use to analyze Frankenstein. One of which, is the comparison of Frankenstein’s monster to the modern day school shooter. Bissonette explains that typically students come to two conclusions when reading the novel. Either the monster is a victimized child or the monster is evil. The same reasoning could be used to assess high school shooters. This method allows the reader to focus on sympathy for the monster’s victims and empathy for the monster itself. Bissonette’s response to her students is as follows, “Sympathy is an insufficient academic response because it functions to preclude questions and instead seeks to return to a posited fictional world before the events of the novel, a world which is unqualified and universal.” (Bissonette 109) Bissonette specifically mentions the Columbine school shooter Dylan Klebald. If one views Klebald as an evil child who sought to wreak chaos on his school and community then he may be correct. However, there is also the argument that Klebald was a troubled child who was bullied relentlessly and in an act of desperation went to school and intended to only shoot those he felt had wronged him and instead his emotions got the best of him and he turned into an indiscriminate killer. This breakdown mirrors the monster in the novel. If I were to use this source in a paper, I would emphasize that the monster is simply a victimized child, abandoned by the same person who gave him life. This approach would allow me to connect the paper to a psychological criticism and relate it to other critics who agree that the monster is not solely to blame for the murders in the novel.
Schmidt, Thomas H. “Addiction And Isolation In Frankenstein: A Case Of Terminal Uniqueness.” Gothic Studies 11.2 (2009): 19-29. Academic Search Complete. Web. 30 Nov. 2016
Thomas Schmidt’s “Addiction And Isolation In Frankenstein: A Case Of Terminal Uniqueness takes a psychoanalytic lens to Frankenstein and focuses mostly on the theme of loneliness and isolation as the title suggests. The article begins by pointing out how the settings chosen in the story are indicative of the themes of loneliness. Settings such as “laboratories, castles, dungeons, prisons and monastic cloisters.” (Schmidt 19) Thomas then states that such themes of isolation and subsequent addiction are common in novels of the Gothic era.
An example of the theme of loneliness that Thomas gives within the novel of Frankenstein by Mary Shelly is Victor’s estrangement from this creation and the subsequent loneliness he suffers as a result. Victor and the monster both compete against each other’s loneliness as Thomas states “Throughout Frankenstein, Victor and his creature also declare the unique quality of their sufferings, each in fact vying for the last word concerning who is more abject, more miserable, more alone. The creature, of course, survives Victor and represents the sole member of his ‘species’, wins” (Schmidt 26). The article makes it a point to highlight the cyclical nature of Frankenstein’s loneliness as his addiction fueled his loneliness and in turn fueled another obsession to rectify his mistake.
The article starts closing out by saying that Victor’s health is linked with his obsession as he turns to drugs to cope with the resulting loneliness. Thomas cites Victor’s laudanum addiction as proof of that. The final point made in this article is that Victor is like the tragic Roman heroes of old by brought low by his own vices.
Newirth, Joseph. “Frankenstein, Spellbound, And World War Z: Evolving Concepts Of The Unconscious.” Psychoanalytic Psychology 33.Suppl 1 (2016): S75 S89. PsycARTICLES. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. Frankenstein, Spellbound, And World War Z:
Evolving Concepts Of The Unconscious by Joseph Newirth is a psychoanalytic take on Frankenstein and what it represents in the greater cultural collective unconscious. First he deals with the concept of Sigmund Freud’s the collective unconscious and defines it as the greater cultural forces that are present within cinema and literature. For example, both Frankenstein and World War Z have different portrayals of what it means to be the “other” is and can representative of many themes such as globalization, consumerism, identity and many others The article then goes on to say that Frankenstein more closely relates to Freud’s concept of the Oedipal complex. The Oedipus Complex is one in which a son wishes to kill his father and be with his mother. He goes on to explain that this is seen through Victor’s interactions with his monster. His monster wishes for a bride of his own and conscripts Victor into making one for him. When he is denied this wish he further endeavors to destroy Victor. Though not a straightforward example of the Oedipus complex it does fulfill the criteria in a roundabout way.
There is a brief overview of how Frankenstein could have been inspired by Mary Shelly’s real tragedy of losing her husband. The article then shifts from speaking about the novel to talking about the film. He states that the events of the movie such as the focus on the technology and science behind it represent the collective unconscious’s fear of the Industrial Age and mechanization. He finishes the article by stating that films are a useful tool for psychoanalyzing an entire culture