Frankenstein: a Psychological Analysis

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What truly makes Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein an entertaining novel, in my opinion, is the mental development of each of the characters throughout the story. The best way to display such psychological progress is to compare events and thoughts from the book to Sigmund Freud’s theories on the conscience. Freud’s “id” is shown through primitive actions of certain characters; those that involve little judgment and rely on instincts rather than informed decisions. The “ego” can be observed through basic thoughts and decisions that are made without the influence of conscience. The “super-ego” is, in fact, conscious thought itself, often characterized by the guilt or other feelings that come as a result of the “id” and “ego”. As you will see, Freudian theory has an important place in the literary masterpiece that is Frankenstein.

While the idea of the “id” is probably the least prevalent of the three in Frankenstein, it still plays a major role in shaping the characters, most specifically, Frankenstein’s monster. “Id” is most commonly applied to instinctual actions and those taken simply out of a need for survival and instant gratification. The monster finds himself satisfying his “id” when teaching himself the basic means of living and human action. These skills give him what he needs to live and obtain his necessities, but contribute nothing to his ultimate consciousness. Much as the “id” is associated with primitive inhuman desires, Frankenstein’s monster takes on a bestial and primitive image.

Next among the three parts of Freud’s psychic apparatus is “ego”. “Ego” is applied to the organized and realistic part of a character’s mentality and, unlike the “id”, requires judgment and next-level thinking. Victor Frankenstein’s willing development into a scientifically learned being and then his venture into creating life from inanimate body parts accurately shows the more advanced, yet still somewhat surface, thought process of an “ego”-influenced being....
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