Frankengay: the Monster of Repressed Homosexuality
By Aloh Saffran
The monster of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is the quintessential embodiment of the other —which queer theory describes as those whom society at large considers outcasts based on their expression of non-privileged binary characteristics, or characteristics that, without substantial reasoning, have been deemed by society to be undesirable (Butler, ed. Abelove, Barale, and Halperin). While intellectually comparable with those around it, the monster is physically repulsive and so shunned by society. However, beyond serving merely as a representation of the proverbial other, careful observation of Victor’s actions and relationships, as well as those of the monster, reveals the monster to be a manifestation specifically of Victor’s repressed homosexual self; and the monster, in its physical form, does not actually exist.
Queer theory is a critical lens, through which literature is viewed without the restraints of socially normative conception (especially with regards to sexuality and gender) and in doing so seeks to discover hidden layers of queer themes (Goldberg).
We perceived a low carriage, fixed on a sledge and drawn by dogs, pass on towards the north, at the distance of half a mile: a being which had the shape of man, but apparently of gigantic stature, sat in the sledge, and guided the dogs. […] In the morning, however, [I] found all the sailors busy on one side of the vessel, apparently talking to some one in the sea. It was, in fact, a sledge, like that we had seen before […]. Only one dog remained alive; but there was a human being within it […]. He was not, as the other traveller seemed to be, a savage inhabitant of some undiscovered island, but an European (13). Shelley’s introductions of the monster and Victor bear an eerie resemblance—signifying that the two are closely connected. However, Shelley’s choice of words, writing that only one dog “remained” alive, gives the specific impression that the sled Victor is discovered in is the same one that the monster had been spotted in the night before—thus opening room for the interpretation that Victor and the monster themselves are one and the same. As well, this quote introduces the theme of social acceptability by contrasting the image of a “savage inhabitant of some undiscovered island,”
i.e., someone disconnected from Western culture and society, with that of a “European,” Shelley’s contemporary epitome of social acceptance and normativity. This forms a direct “binary opposition,” or opposition between two equal, yet socially opposite things (Tompkins, and Brizee), between the creature as a representation of what Victor wishes he was not and Victor’s suppression of his “monstrous” desires—as well as forming a direct comparison of Victor’s homosexuality to social isolation and Victor’s repression of his sexuality to social acceptance. “Chance—or rather the evil influence […] asserted omnipotent sway over me from the moment I turned my reluctant steps from my father's door” (240). Victor’s interest in science, the thing which leads to the monster’s creation, develops in his early teenage years. However, it is not until—upon leaving his childhood behind—he meets a handsome professor, Mr. Waldman, that he receives the resources and materials to actually create it. Victor describes Mr. Waldman thus: “His person was short, but remarkably erect; and his voice was the sweetest I had ever heard” (42), much preferring this professor to Mr. Krempe whom he describes as “a little squat man, with a gruff voice and a repulsive countenance” (41)—whose lectures he refuses to even attend. In this way, science represents Victor’s sexuality; he begins to explore when he hits puberty, and is eventually able to figure out his sexuality as a result of his attraction to Mr. Waldman. But even before the monster’s genesis, Victor’s life is steeped in queer relationships. On the evening previous to [Elizabeth’s] being...
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Tompkins, J. Case, and Allen Brizee. "Gender Studies and Queer Theory (1970s-present)." Perdue
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