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 presented in Mary Shelley's narrative: the psychological benefits of companionship, the unique physical pleasures of sexuality, and the desire to pass on one's genes and behaviors through procreation. In social animals, the process of choosing partners for sexual intercourse and companionship is founded on reproductive goals. Victor's ability to create life independently eliminates the importance of reproduction in choosing companions and sexual partners. Each of the three elements of Victor's sexuality become separated, and then associated with his principal contemporaries, the people closest to him: Henry Clerval as companionship, Elizabeth Lavenza as reproduction, and the monster as sexual pleasure.
Elizabeth at one time or another represents all female roles to Victor. In turn, she is Victor's cousin, sister, mother, and wife. These are not figurative relationships, implied by the text; they are actual labels applied to Elizabeth, by Victor's parents while he is still a child. When she joins the family, she is his cousin, a...
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... kill his brother, and to be rid of Elizabeth and also of the conflict that his relationship with Clerval brings. The implication is that anyone who follows the split to its logical conclusion will find themselves in crisis, when they inevitably upset their mental balance, as Frankenstein did in rejecting women.
Lowe-Evans, Mary. Frankenstein: Mary Shelly's Wedding Guest. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993.
Maslow. A.H: 'A theory of human motivation' (Psycol. Rev, 50, 370-396, 1943)
Oates, Joyce Carol. "Frankenstein: Creation as Catastrophe." Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.
Shelly, Mary. Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus. New York: Penguin Books, 1978.
Tropp, Martin. Mary Shelly's Monster. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976.
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