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'Filthy Types: "Frankenstein", Figuration, Femininity' / Steven, Vine

Critical Survey, Volume: 8, Issue: 3, Pages: 246 - 258

Swansea University Author: Steven, Vine

Abstract

The essay explores 'Frankenstein'’s representation of selfhood as an effect of specular figuration, and argues that the novel presents monstrosity as a condition of disfiguration. In the figure of the monster, Shelley ironises Victor Frankenstein’s specular figuration as narcissistic: his...

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Published in: Critical Survey
Published: 1996
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa17978
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Abstract: The essay explores 'Frankenstein'’s representation of selfhood as an effect of specular figuration, and argues that the novel presents monstrosity as a condition of disfiguration. In the figure of the monster, Shelley ironises Victor Frankenstein’s specular figuration as narcissistic: his bid to create an image of self-aggrandisement falls into ruin. The essay argues that femininity in the novel is harnessed to the narcissism of male self-reflection. Just as Frankenstein’s desire for his lover Elizabeth is figured in terms of specular narcissism, so the monster’s desire for a mate is grasped by a dream of resemblance. The essay concludes by examining the female ‘monsteress’ – half-created and dismembered by Frankenstein late in the narrative – as a figure that exceeds the economy of patriarchal, specular narcissism. The monsteress embodies a sublime of ‘transgressive femininity.’
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Issue: 3
Start Page: 246
End Page: 258