Welcome back fellow bloggers to Creeping It Real! Once again we’ll be talking about the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Last week we talked about Victor’s relationship with his work and his relationship with Elizabeth. This week we’ll be discussing the possibility that the monster is just a figment of Victor’s imagination as symptom of schizophrenia or another personality disorder. Are Victor and his monster one and the same?
While looking back on our previous unit (mental health), I noticed the possibility that Shelly could be portraying the symptoms of schizophrenia through the monster. Frankenstein’s monster could possibly be a delusion or figment of Frankenstein’s imagination. Schizophrenia is described as “a severe mental condition that interferes with normal thought processes, causing delusions, hallucinations, and mental disorganization” (Nagel). The monster may be a cover for the evil in Frankenstein’s character. While the book is told from the monster’s point of view, it is really being told by Victor himself; it may just be Victor convincing himself that it’s the monster who has done the acts of evil, not himself.
In chapter 9, Shelly tells the audience directly that Victor is suffering from a mental illness; “This state of mind preyed upon my health, which had perhaps never entirely recovered from the first shock it had sustained. I shunned the face of man; solitude was my only consolation—deep, dark, deathlike solitude” (Shelley, 94). This may have been caused by the death of his brother, William. Shelly implies that Victor is not in a stable state of mind. Frankensteins inability to capture the creature but is able to have conversations and argue with it, may be a sign that Victor himself is the monster.
The potential cause of Victor Frankenstein’s schizophrenia could be from his mother biologically or environmentally. Victor’s mother lived in poverty and he could’ve inherited the schizophrenia from her as the psychological effects of his living conditions could possibly cause his mental illness. In addition, Frankenstein’s mother had recently died which would put heavy amounts of stress onto a person possibly causing illnesses such as depression.
“The monster” may simply be Victor suffering from hallucinations, which explains how no one has seen Victor and the monster together. Victor has withdrawn from society and is not in a stable state of mind which are signs of paranoid schizophrenia. It may be Victor himself who commits the murders and crimes making the real monster Frankenstein himself.
To learn more about schizophrenia, click here.
Here, Insomnia Cured. “Frankenstein.” Flickr, Yahoo. 11 Oct. 2007, www.flickr.com/photos/tom-margie/1538953234.
“Schizophrenia.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Douglas Clegg. Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. Penguin, 2013.