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Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a story about Victor Frankenstein who manages to create a monster, but he is consumed by guilt because the monster harms the people that are important to him. The monster faces rejection from the humankind that is why it avenges by killing Victor’s family members. Victor is the ego in the story because according to Freud, “the ego has to observe the external world and preserve a true picture of it in the memory traces left by its perceptions, and, by means of the reality-test, it has to eliminate any element in this picture of the external world which is a contribution from internal sources of excitation.” Victor is excited the idea of discovering the secret of life and coming up with his creature. Victor thinks that the creation is a success in his life, but after it makes his life miserable, he dedicates his life to destroying it. Frankenstein exemplifies the manner in which the id, ego and superego control the life of a person.
In Frankenstein, the id is Victor’s ‘desire to discover the secret of life.’ This desire is unconscious that is why he conducts research relentlessly so that he can discover it. According to Freud, the id contains the instinctual discharges that are seeking to be discharged. Freud writes that “naturally, the id knows no values, no good and evil, no morality. The economic, or, if you prefer, the quantitative factor, which is so closely bound up with the pleasure- principle, dominates all its processes”. The energy from the instinctual impulses in the ego drives Victor to look for knowledge that can enable him to create life. The id encourages Victor to play the role of God is considered to be the sole source of life is religion. The desire is not governed by morals and values that is why Victor is not conscious of the implications that may occur as result of fulfilling his desire to create life. Victor anticipates that by creating the monster, he will experience pleasure in his life that is why is so determined about studying and getting all the necessary knowledge that relates to the secret of life. Accordingly, Victor’s desire to find the secret of life is an instinctual discharge that can be discharged after Victor has fulfilled it.
Additionally, Victor’s creation is the super-ego in Frankenstein because it starts punishing him as soon as he creates it. Freud explains that “its (the id’s) every movement is watched by the severe super-ego, which holds up certain norms of behavior…; and if these norms are not acted up to, it punishes the ego with the feelings of tension which manifest themselves as a sense of inferiority and guilt”. Victor experiences tension in his life due to the monster. First, the monster horrifies him when it comes to life, and after that, he becomes sick after the monster’s escape. Additionally, when the monster kills Victor’s younger brother, Victor feels guilty because he is the one that created the monster. Victor tries to destroy the monster because of the tension and guilt that is associated with it. He does not have peace in his life because of the monster, and it is sad that he dies before destroying the monster. Accordingly, the monster is the super-ego figure in the story because it punishes the ego (Victor) by subjecting him to tension and the feelings of guilt.
According to Freud’s model, the outcome of the story victor’s mental health suffers because of the “relentless efforts by other parts of the mind to control these potentially destructive notions and impulses can lead to crippling symptoms such as anxiety, depression and pervasive misery” (McGowan).Victor experiences depression and misery because of the destructive notions that he has concerning the creature. He is so determined to destroy the monster, but when the swelling sea hinders him from destroying it, he becomes miserable. The misery affects him mentally; that is why the illness takes a toll on him, and he eventually dies before killing the monster. His sole intention in life after the loss of his brother and father is to destroy the monster, and when he fails, he suffers so much leading to negative implications on his mental health.
Arguably, neuropsychoanalysts would treat Victor by applying both neuroscience and psychoanalytic methods. According to McGowan, “the analyst helps the unhappy patient notice destructive patterns in his own life, especially where he avoids painful memories or feelings.” The psychoanalysis would focus on factors such as Victor’s mind, unconscious thoughts, emotions, dreams, fantasies and repression. Neuroscience would focus on Victor’s brain, anatomy and circuitry, memory and learning perception and cognition. These analyses would enable Victor to face the facts in his life that related to the creation of the monster. Eventually, Victor would have a profound self-knowledge, and this would result in his cure.
In conclusion, Victor is driven by the desire to discover life’s secret and this was is id. The id does not care about the morality of discovering life which is considered to be God’s role. The sole aim of the id is to bring pleasure in the ego that is why Victor is not bothered about the possibility of failing terribly in his endeavor of discovering the secret of life. Victor’s monster qualifies to be the super-ego figure because it created tension and feelings of guilt in Victor’s life (the ego).Victor’s mental problems would have been alleviated through the application of neuropsychoanalysis the analysis would result in his wholesome recovery.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Macmillan, 1994.
Freud, Sigmund. “The Structure of the Unconscious.”
McGowan, Kat. “The Second Coming of Sigmund Freud.”
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