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Frankenstein- the dark side of the human psyche exam practice

January 2010: 6. To what extent do you agree with the view that in 'Frankenstein', Mary Shelley is exploring 'the dark side of the human psyche'?
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Amy Banks

on 14 May 2014

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Transcript of Frankenstein- the dark side of the human psyche exam practice

Disagree: presenting Galvanism/scientific ideas of the time which explore potential of dark side
A03: However it can be argued that Shelley is not exploring the dark side of the human psyche...
“Breathless horror and disgust filled my heart”-Shows Victor's regret of creating the creature. A condemning tone is created through the use of assonance, the harsh “s” sound in 'breathless' and 'disgust'. Shelley highlights the horror and dark side of Victor's psyche when he abandons his creature for aesthetic reasons, 'the beauty of the dream vanished'.
6. To what extent do you agree with the view that in 'Frankenstein', Mary Shelley is exploring 'the dark side of the human psyche'?

KEY WORDS:
TO WHAT EXTENT
EXPLORING
DARK SIDE
HUMAN PSYCHE
PARAGRAPH 1
AGREE: OBSESSION and AMBITION
FREUD'S IDEA OF THE PSYCHOLOGICALLY DIVIDED SELF
AO1:
POINT
AO3:
ALTERNATIVE
INTERPRETATIONS
AO4:
CONTEXT
A02:
F/S/L
AQA INDICATIVE CONTENT...

-Consideration of Frankenstein's actions and motivations in the light of the questions critical view- likely to be much emphasis on psycho-analytical theories, everything from gender usurpation to incest.
-Some candidates may examine other characters in the novel from this comment.
-Discussion of:
*The murders that take place in the novel
*The creature's role and what he represents in human terms/ his relationship to humans and their treatment of him.
*The significance of gothic language and imagery in the novel

INTRODUCTION:

Within Frankenstein, it can be debated that Shelley does explore the dark side of the human psyche. She presents new ideas surrounding Freudian psycho-analysis, such as the Oedipus complex, the subconscious, and the links between them. In addition, Shelley also explores the theme of scientific obsession and curiosity, reflecting how our subconscious desires arbitrate (determine) our behaviour, embodied in Victor's scientific experiments that enable the dark side of his psyche to come to light. Conversely, it could be considered that Shelley is not exploring the dark side of the human psyche, but instead aims to use the themes of death and isolation to convey the gothic concepts of horror and terror; or even that Shelley is simply writing to satisfy the popular 19th century fascination with galvanism.


Define key words in the question and set up your debate
Throughout the creation process of the creature Shelley employs several events and techniques to induce fear and terror in the reader:
The use of weather: 'rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out'- use of pathetic fallacy creates horror/ terror as the weather is used to underscore the dark, gruesome events by creating a gothic atmosphere
Victor’s declining health: 'I had deprived myself of rest and health'- The reader is led to fear his creations as they have made V. physically and mentally ill.
The ugly description of the creature: 'the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart' The negative description of Victor's toils aims to induce fear through scary imagery in the reader, as a traditional horror story would. The Creature's 'shrivelled complexion' and ' watery eyes' give off an image of a stereotypical monster.
AO3 DISAGREE:
The gothic concepts of horror and terror
Oedipus complex: First suggested by Freud. He hypothesised that a young boy would experience the oedipus complex, where the boy develops an intense sexual love for his mother. Because of this he sees his father as a rival and wants to get rid of him. The infant is quickly taught that these feelings are taboo, and suppresses them: literally, the forbidden feelings are put away in the unconscious. It is what these forbidden feelings do after they have been hidden away, that psychoanalysis focusses on. A number of psychological critics build theories of Victor Frankenstein, based on oedipal elements of this story.
Agree: Odeipus complex/Freudian
CONCLUSION
PARAGRAPH 2
PARAGRAPH 3
PARAGRAPH 4
Answer the question- even if you are open-ended in your findings.
Make it clear to your reader that what you have concluded is valid.
No need to quote.
Remember to evaluate "most"

To conclude, it is more convincing to argue that Shelley is exploring the dark side of the human psyche because she presents Victor with an overreaching ambition which significantly highlights his dark and monstrous psyche. Throughout the novel Shelley enables the reader to gain knowledge of the dangers of science so that they can explore for themselves their own subconscious thoughts relating to the gothic. Significantly, Shelley does explore the dark side through explaining what happens when Victor transgresses boundaries and experiences psychological turmoil within the darkness of his mind.
It could be argued that Shelley is exploring the dark side of the human psyche, which is illustrated in Victor's over-ruling scientific ambition.
Link this to doubling of V and the creature, who both meet their down fall through the desire to pursue dangerous knowledge.
Shelley links ambition to the pursuit of dangerous knowledge as ambition drives Victor to usurp the role of God and women in reproduction, therefore linking ambition to dangerous knowledge. Victor's guilt after breaking the boundaries of nature leads to his downfall as the intense guilt and isolation drives him to madness. Therefore, the dark side to the human psyche that Shelley is exploring is ambition.
This doubles with the creaure, whose downfall can also be considered as due to the pursuit of dangerous knowledge. In this instance, that is the values of human society at the time. After discovering the harsh, judgemental values of human society, the creature realises that he will never belong or be accepted by humanity. This then leads him to his vengeful murder spree of Victor's friends and family, eventually depriving himself ofhis one remaining human relationship; that with his creator.

:DEBATE- FOR/ AGAINST
:to look into closely; scrutinize; examine
:SINISTER; EVIL
: the mental or psychological structure of a person, especially as a motive force

'so much has been done […] more, far more, will I achieve'- Shows V's lack of control over ambition, he is unable to control his ego, therefore becomes entrapped in his scientific obsession, Victor is isolated does not have counterbalance over emotions so ego takes over, 'to have lost all sensation but for this one pursuit.'
“I never beheld anything so utterly destroyed”-creature deformed, therefore hasn’t satiated Victor's ego. It is the monstrous birth of the creature that allows V. to surpass his ego, thrusting him into a hellsih reality that has violently ripped himself away from the idealistic views of his ego.

As stated in her epilogue, Shelley writes that she aims to 'curdle the blood and quicken the beatings of the heart', alluding to the gothic elements of horror, shock, and terror, fear.
It is more significantly highlighted that Shelley was not exploring the dark side but actually presenting to the reader the 19th century fascination with galvanism.

On the other hand, Shelley does not purposely explore the dark side of the human psyche because she instead aims to explore the gothic concepts of horror and terror.
Conversely, Shelley does explore the dark side of the human psyche through the use of Freudian psycho-analytical theories, such as the Oedipus complex and the subconscious.
One of these is the age difference between his mother and father, which exaggerates the distance from his father, and brings him closer to his mother. Victor mentions intimate ‘tender caresses’ from his mother, compared to his father’s more distant ‘smile of benevolent pleasure.’
It could also be stated that Victor’s mother provides him with a sex-object, even saying: ‘I have a pretty present for my Victor’, called ‘cousin’ but in Victor’s words ‘more than a sister.’ With the gift of Elizabeth Lavenza, Mrs Frankenstein virtually acknowledges her duty to respond to and satisfy her son’s desire. That she is giving, in effect, a version of herself- an incestuous present- is underlined when she speaks from her deathbed: ‘she joined the hands of Elizabeth and myself:- ‘My children,’ she said, ‘my firmest hopes of future happiness were placed on the prospect of your union… Elizabeth, my love, you must supply my place to my younger children’; and the identity of Victor’s desire for Elizabeth, with an incestuous desire for his mother, appears in his dream- a dream in which embracing his mother is accompanied by all the horror and death-imagery attendant on such a taboo.
We may also notice how Victor’s actions steadily deprive his father of judgement, authority, and therefore potency; and eventually of life

Link to next point: Shelley is not exploring the dark side of the human psyche, but is presenting ideas, such as galvanism, that were popular at the time...
“Spark of being into the lifeless thing”-A metaphor for electricity, it is an effective reference to the birth of the creature and brings about the idea of usurping nature to fulfil scientific ambition-i.e. unnatural birth. Significant-just before Victor regrets creating his Creature, juxtaposition of “spark” and “lifeless”-contrasts of meaning life and death-effect on reader-present the ideas at the time so that they gain knowledge of the potential dangers of scientific exploration.
Shelley was inspired by popular galvanism at the time- employs this into Victor. Galvani's experiments with corpses and electricity- Shelley is simply exploring what was popular at the time. Written at a time of transition between the romantic and enlightenment periods, it makes it more conceivable tha notifying the reader of the possible dangers of scientific pursuits and uncontrolled scientific discovery, referencing the increasing practice of galvanism.


'workshop of filthy creation'- Fear is also created through the use of the extended metaphor of the 'filthy workshop', giving connotations of dirty, immoral conditions, which suggests that the scientific research that is produced there can only be dirty and immoral. This gives the reader a sense of foreboding as it is implied that nothing good can come of the situation.

(doppelganger of creature being an embodiment of Victor=dark side=monstrousness of humans!-presented by psychological instability.; EXPLORATION-allows for readers to develop in knowledge of the capabilities of humans to abuse science-horror & highlights their monstrousness and dark side POTENTIAL!!!!)
'no longer restrained by the fear of discovery, I gave vent to my anguish in fearful howlings. I was like a wild beast that had broken the toils'
A stark contrast in attitude of the creature toards his life and humanity is shown here. The use of the simile 'like a wild beast' illustrates the devastation of the Creature as all his optimism and blissful ignorance is lost. The comparison of the Creature to the 'wild beast' reinforces to the reader that because of the Creature's monstrous appearance, he will never be accepted. However it could also be a reminder to the reader of the monster's hideous appearance, at a time where the reader sympathises with the creature, due to his intense distress.

It could also be seen to foreshadow the death of the feamle creature as the Creature has just realised that he will never be loved unequivocally by another
'But my heart sunk within me as with bitter sickness'- suggests that the creature is heartbroken.
Shelley links ambition to the pursuit dangerous knowledge as ambition drives Victor to usurp the role of God and women in reproduction, therefore linking ambition to dangerous knowledge. Victor's guilt after breaking the boundaries of nature leads to his downfall as the intense guilt and isolation drives him to madness.
This doubles with the creaure, whose downfall can also be considered as due to the pursuit of dangerous knowledge. In this instance, that is the values of human society at the time. After discovering the harsh, judgemental values of human society, the creature realises that he will never belong or be accepted by humanity. This then leads him to his vengeful murder spree of Victor's friends and family, eventually depriving himself ofhis one remaining human relationship; that with his creator.

In a Freudian analysis of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the most significant view taken is that the Creature and creator are two aspects of the same person. This comes from Freud’s idea of the ‘psychologically divided self’. He believes that there are three parts of the human mind:
The first is the id, containing basic instinctual drives, ‘it is the dark, inaccessible part of our personality. The id has no morality, which is what makes it dark. The id is seen as nothing more than the selfish drive to get what we want, the subconscious in every mind and the basis of our behaviour.
Contrasting this, there is the conscious ego, which by Freud’s definition ‘attempts to mediate between id and reality, it is often obliged to cloak the Unconscious commands of the id with its own preconscious rationalizations... taking notice of reality even when the id has remained rigid and unyielding’. The ego contains reason where the id contains passion, and it is the aspect of ourselves which is encouraged to be dominant in civilized society.
Freud also identified the super-ego, or conscience, which punishes the ego with feelings of guilt if the id is indulged too much. (It mediates between the two)
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