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Re-specting the Face as the Moral (of) Fiction in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Thomas Dutoit

Modern Language Notes, 26 (1995), 847-71

[{847}] At the center of Frankenstein is the character designated as the monster who cannot present himself visually, cannot show himself as something visible. Michel Foucault has stressed the relation between a monster and what is shown or presented as a spectacle: "Jusqu'au début du XlXème siècle, et jusqu'à l'indignation de Royer-Collard, les fous restent des monstres -- a c'est-à-dire des êtres ou des choses qui valent d'être montrés . . . mais de l'autre côté des grilles." Monstrosity, or this madness as shown, "devient pur spectacle."1 The monster is what is shown, presented to our view, and separated from us by bars. Jacques Derrida echoes this relation between the shown and the monster: "Qu'est-ce qu'un monstre? . . . Monstrer, c'est montrer, et une monstre est une montre."2 If in these instances monstrosity is linked to seeing, showing, or presenting, in Frankenstein monstrosity is linked to an impossibility of seeing, showing, or presenting. In Frankenstein, the unnamed character is a "monster" because it cannot show itself in the sense of se montrer. The novel problematizes the question of monstrosity and of the monster's "unshowability" in terms of vision, especially in terms of vision of the face. In this text, all faces are presentable, save the monster's, upon which the moral of this fiction paradoxically rests.

The "face" is the figure of the figure (French for "face"); as such, the "face" is the general trope in the novel. Additionally, the figure of the monster is the specific "figure" (71) for figurality, the "rule" {848} of the face to which the entire text about the face "conform[s]"(6).3 Pun or no pun, the "Preface" to Frankenstein grounds itself ("The circumstance on which my story rests," "The event on which the interest of the story depends," "The event on which this fiction is founded," "a story, founded on") on the question of figuration. In question is how this conformity is based on the "deformity" of the monster, "the deformity of my figure," "a figure hideously deformed" (109, 115). The rule conformed to is that of the deformed figure.

The Preface4 explains and performs such figuration as follows: "the basis of [this] work of fancy" is precisely the "assuming" of what is "impossible as physical fact," an "impossible occurrence" (the monster). This "assuming" "develops the novelty of the situation"; indeed, this "assuming" offers "the humble novelist" "amusement" (Preface -- in which "amusement" occurs thrice). New in this novel is an "amusement" based on an act of "assuming." "Amusement" tells here of a Muse, of being so amused as to be novel in novel-writing.

"Without presumption," "amusement" thus metathetically retrieves the act of "assuming" the monster as "source of amusement." "Amuse" conveys "assume" by a metathesis that is not unlikely, for, as stated in the Preface, "I have not scrupled to innovate upon . . . combinations" [Preface 1]. It is such an unscrupulous "assuming" as "amusement" that allows the "novelist" to "develop novelty." This development of novelty that operates through innovative combinations is the figuration of figurality; it is to figure within "amuse/assume" what Jakobson called the processes of figuration that are combination and selection.5 "Amusement" thus contains the figure for the inspiration to figuration, and derives from "assuming" what is "impossible as physical fact" (i.e., the "figure hideously deformed").

This "assuming"/"amusement" has a poetic and moral aspect. On the one hand, "assuming" is the secret of poetry (and prose fiction): "Many exquisite combinations of human feeling have resulted in the highest specimens of poetry" "from the adoption of" this "rule" (which the "novelist . . . may [also] . . . apply to prose fiction"): Greek poetry, Shakespeare, and Milton "conform to this rule" (6-7). On the other hand, "assuming" comes to contain the moral of this "fiction." For the "assuming" that is "a source of amusement" has "other motives mingled with" it "as the work proceeded," namely a "concern" in "respect" to "moral tendencies." The poetic and moral {849} aspects of "assuming" stem from the twins, "spectres" (6) and respect" (7).

Linked to "assuming" the impossible figure/face, the three "amusements" show how spectral poetics relate to respectful morality. In the first "amusement," the "novelist, who seeks to confer or receive "amusement from his labours," obeys the same "rule" of figuration as that to which "the tragic poetry of Greece, -- Shakespeare, in the Tempest and Midsummer Night's Dream, -- and most especially Milton, in Paradise Lost, conform" [Preface 1]. The third "amusement" [Preface 2] echoes the first. The "tragic poetry of Greece" becomes "some German stories of ghosts" with which "[we] occasionally amused ourselves"; the Tempest becomes "the season . . . cold and rainy"; Midsummer Night's Dream becomes "the summer of 1816 in the environs of Geneva" (Frankenstein having been generated in the days following June 16 1816); Paradise Lost becomes "this story . . . begun in the majestic region . . . , in society which cannot cease to be regretted." Greco-English texts are stories of spectres, as are German texts. They are stories about the aspect of the spectral face with which the "assuming" "amuses."6 The spectral poetics of the first and third "amusements" passes through the second "amusement" ("my story" "commenced, partly as source of amusement"), which introduces the text's "concern" in "respect" of the "moral." The moral-philosophical voice of the Preface even valorizes "respect" by repressing respect's spectral aspect: "The event on which the interest of the story depends is exempt from the disadvantages of a mere tale of spectres" (6).

As amused assumption of a figure for the act of figuring, the monster will function primarily through his face, the philosophical "figure" for ethics, morality, and Law. That is, the figure of the figure (face) "yields" "passions more comprehensive and commanding than any which the ordinary relations of existing events can." Only by "conforming" to the "rule" of the spectre is the "chief concern in . . . respect" of the moral, i.e., more "commanding" passions achievable. Thus, the same voice nonetheless shows "respect" for the moral to be indebted to the "spectre." Through two different ways of "compassionat[ing]" (143) the face, the characters' relations with existent and non-existent faces construct, respectively two apparently different (sensible, supersensible) orders of morality. Indeed, the Preface states that its chief concern in respect to moral tendencies is the "exhibition of . . . domestic affection and . . . universal virtue" [Preface 2]. The representation of this affection-virtue {849} couple is an Epicurean, Stoic, and Kantian problem. Although regarding the novel the probably ironic author-function in the Preface claims that " no . . . inference [is] justly to be drawn from the following pages as prejudicing any philosophical doctrine of whatever kind" [Preface 2], the present essay will try to demonstrate the novel's "innovative" inheritance of this especially Kantian problem, i.e., how the novel "conjures" the way Kant represented this couple "happiness-virtue" by the "antinomy of pure practical reason."7

The monster's face cannot be shown by the monster in such a way that it could be seen by human beings. It is not the voice or the manners of the monster that human beings cannot tolerate, but rather his face. The monster's voice is only "harsh" [2.7.6]; his language more literary than that of any other character in Frankenstein. The unpresentability of the monster's face and the impossibility of looking at it are textually constructed by the radical incongruity between the way the monster's face functions and the way every other character's face functions. Any character other than the monster, whether "good" or "bad," has a describable face that reflects his or her inner qualities or flaws. The face functions as transparent reflection of the moral character, and as the chosen medium for interpersonal communication.

Victor's narrative presents these transparent faces according to the most racist and specious opposition. Aryan faces are linked with goodness, and Mediterranean faces with deviancy. The goodness of Victor's sister-cousin-friend and wife, Elizabeth Lavenza, shows itself through her face. She is of "complexion fair," "her eyes were hazel, and expressive of great mildness." This faultless expressivity can be seen in her forehead: "an open and capacious forehead gave indications of a good understanding, joined to a great frankness of disposition" (30). Through this perfect face it is possible to see her perfect moral and psychological constitution, to the extent that "her person was the image of her mind" (30). Elizabeth Lavenza is even selected by Victor Frankenstein's parents because moral and psychological quality (the inside) are seen through her face (the outside):

My mother found a peasant and his wife, hard working, bent down by care and labour, distributing a scanty meal to five hungry babes. Among these there was one which attracted my mother far above all the rest. She appeared of different stock. The four others were dark-eyed, hardy little {851} vagrants; this child was thin, and very fair. Her hair was the brightest living gold, and . . . seemed to set a crown of distinction on her head. Her brow was clear and ample, her blue eyes cloudless, and her lips and the moulding of her face so expressive of sensibility and sweetness, that none could behold her without looking on her as of a distinct species, a being heaven-sent, and bearing a celestial stamp in all her features. The daughter of a Milanese nobleman, her mother was a German and had died . . . She continued with her foster parents, and bloomed in their rude abode, fairer than a garden rose among dark-leaved brambles . . . [A] child fairer than pictured cherub. (1831 version, 235)
The parents decide to take Elizabeth away from this scene of penury because of Elizabeth's appearance, specifically her face. She has a royal appearance ("a crown of distinction on her head") that blends nobility with Aryanism. More than racist, this schema is, so to speak, specious, for she is seen "as of a distinct species." "Species," from Latin specere, to look, is created by vision, by the fact that "none could behold her without looking on her as" such. Her character is entirely a function of the facial features, which is to say that her character is a function of her "moulding." From "brow" to "lips," the "moulding" of her "face" expresses "sensibility and sweetness." Fairer than a picture, such a moulded and stamped face operates then not as a pure picture or pure concept, but instead as a "third," as a "mediating" or "communicating representation," that is, as what Kant calls the "schema" "that there would have to be" between the two. The schema is what makes a picture congruent with its concept.8 The schema (the "moulding," the "stamp," etc.) provides both her intelligible character (the good, "heaven-sent") and her physical character (the fair, "very fair," "fairer than a garden rose," "fairer than a cherub"). Elizabeth-as-species is furthermore exemplary for Frankenstein because it is she as "garden rose" in whom "my chief concern" "in respect" (re specere) of "moral tendencies" is expressed, namely -- "domestic affection" (Preface).

For these "cherubic," "heaven-sent" features are why she is selected by Victor's "upright" father (233). On the other hand, the features of the rest of the litter put them at the opposite, most beastly end of the animal kingdom. As "dark-eyed, hardy little vagrants" they seem to be nothing more than rats. "Dirty" animals that have all four legs on the ground represent therefore the lack of moral uprightness; they belong to an evolutionary stage prior to morality, as Freud would have it.9 Indeed, their parents are "bent down." Whereas Elizabeth's uprightness is revealed in the figure of {852} the "garden rose among dark-leaved brambles," the vagrancy of these dark people is revealed by the figure of the "dark brambles." The brambles are the not-straight; the rose is what stands straight. The opposition of facial features (fair complexion vs. dark eyes) has become an opposition of botanical metaphors (garden rose vs. dark brambles) which connotes an opposition of moral qualities (moral uprightness vs. thorny, twisted lack of morality) and an opposition of spaces (domestic vs. wild). The morally upright is domesticated. She who is the straight garden rose is a domesticated flower that grows in what is barely domestic, "bloomed in their rude abode." By contrast, the "dark-leaved brambles" are a sign of vagrancy, the wild, the homeless. In this series of oppositions, everything (good or bad) is determined by the face. The face is thus the schematic figure of a transparent mediation between a "physical outside" and a "mental inside," a surface that is entirely readable and through which one can see inside a reflection of the outside.10

Not only image of the soul, the face and more specifically the eyes are the medium for interpersonal communication in the novel. When Walton writes to his sister and complains about his solitude, he expresses his desire for company and sympathy in terms of a desire for visual communication: "I desire the company of a man who could sympathize with me; whose eyes would reply to mine" (13). This desire is a desire for the face and in particular the eyes. Communication of feeling operates through the face and the eyes. After Walton picks up Frankenstein from his drifting vessel, what fascinates him is looking at Frankenstein's eyes: "He neither speaks or notices anything around him, but sitting on a gun will gaze on the sea and I have sometimes observed his dark eyelash wet with a tear which falls silently in the deep. This unobtrusive sorrow excites in me the most painful interest, and he will at times reward my sympathy by throwing aside this veil of mortal woe, and then his ardent looks, his deep toned voice and powerful eloquence entrance me with delight" (from [MS additions in copy given to] Mrs. Thomas 23). Speech is only possible once the eye begins to operate, once Walton gazes upon Frankenstein's gaze on the sea. The "dark eyelash wet with a tear," the non-seeing eye, is the catalyst for sympathy. With the veil lifted, the eyes or "the ardent looks" are the medium by which "entrancing" tone and rhetoric enter Walton hypnotically.

The face of the monster functions in a radically different way. If the Preface was the veil before this text about faces, in the text all faces are merely "pre-faces" to the monster's face which is never {853} visible as phenomenon. While through all other faces it is possible to see transparently the psychological inside, and while all other faces are the medium of interpersonal communication, the monster's face is opaque, a barrier to communication. It is impossible to see through the monster's face because it is impossible even to sustain a look at the monster's face. It is a face that is too horrible for human eyes: "no mortal could support the horror of that countenance" (53); "his countenance bespoke bitter anguish, combined with disdain and malignity, while its unearthly ugliness rendered it almost too horrible for human eyes" (94); "a fiendish rage animated him as he said this; his face was wrinkled into contortions too horrible for human eyes to behold" (141). When the rustic, whose little girl the monster has just saved, sees the monster, he runs away and then shoots the monster. No one in the novel can withstand the vision of the monster, be it looking at him or being looked at by his "eyes, if eyes they may be called" (53).

When William Frankenstein first sees the monster, he immediately blocks his vision, as the monster narrates: "As soon as he beheld my form, he placed his hands before his eyes" (139). His hand is an automatically closing shutter blocking any vision of the monster's face; Walton is likewise unable to sustain a vision or even a description of the monster's face: "Never did I behold a vision so horrible as his face, of such loathsome, yet appalling hideousness. I shut my eyes involuntarily . . . I approached this tremendous being; l dared not again raise my looks upon his face" (216-17). The monster's face is a face or "a figure the most hideous" (194) because it is automatically hidden from vision by involuntarily shutting eyes and subsequent repression of a vis-à-vis; the description opposes synonyms ("loathsome, yet appalling hideousness"). Frankenstein even thinks he sees "the dreaded spectre glide" into the "bed-room" that is nonetheless said to be "freed from its hideous guest" (56). Such "hideousness" is, as the monster says, an "unnatural hideousness" (128), a hidingness.

The monster himself records the horror of Felix, Safie, and Agatha when they enter their cottage and see him at their father's knees: "Who can describe their horror and consternation on beholding me?" (131). Felix seems to say that this horror is for Safie and Agatha permanent: "My wife and my sister will never recover their horror" (134). By the absence of a preposition, the text in a whisper reveals horror to be a domesticity which is made visible as horror by the monster's face. More literally than just not recovering {854} from their horror, Safie and Agatha will never "recover their horror." "Horror" is thus what they already had without its being recognized as horrible. Both within the context of Felix's statement (homeless-ness: "we can never again inhabit your cottage") and within the supposedly ideal "family of Delacy," what was had and never to be "recover[ed]" is the semblance, the cover, of domesticity, the "domestic affection" [Preface 2] that in the Preface is but a front. It is "never" recoverable, because in order to "recover" it (bring it back, remember it), they would have to re-cover it (hide it again). The "domestic circle" (37), however, works well while its positive value as spontaneous is prior even to being hidden; it functions until its surfacing horror uncovers itself at which time it cannot be covered over again. Horror exposed cannot be re-covered because its unexposed domestic state is irrecoverable. The impossibility of regarding the monster's face thus voices itself as a double impossibility to "re(-)cover."

In a deliberate parallel with Eve looking at her image in Paradise Lost, the monster himself seems unable to look at his own face and is terrified when he sees his image: "I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers . . . but how was I terrified, when I viewed myself in a transparent pool! At first I started back, unable to believe that it was indeed I who was reflected in the mirror" (109). What "terrifies" the monster is first of all not "when I viewed myself" in the watery mirror. "At first," at the start, he is "unable to believe" the mirror reflection as himself (as "indeed I"). It is rather the double as other the reflection as other, that terrifies. The origin of terror is the exteriorized image-as-other.11 Terror thus shares the origin with "respect," with a regard that doubles the self in the "spectre" of an other, just as "respect" for "moral tendencies" in the Preface is at the origin of Frankenstein together with "a tale of spectres." The monster is the sole figure capable of re-specting his face in the sense of looking at it again, but he can never be looked at by another.

Frankenstein, too, is filled with horror when he sees the monster. He cannot sustain the sight of his creation, fleeing immediately upon its animation precisely so as not to see it, thereafter "shunn[ing] the face of man" [2.1.1] precisely so as not to encounter therein the monster's face. His horror at the vision of the monster's face does not diminish as their confrontation intensifies: "With a sensation of horror not to be described, I saw at the open window a figure the most hideous and abhorred" (194). The unbearableness of looking at the monster's face is such that, while creating the monster, Frankenstein is only able to be in its presence because he is {855} blind: "During my first experiment, a kind of enthusiastic frenzy had blinded me to the horror of my employment; my mind was intently fixed on the sequel of my labour, and my eyes were shut" (162). Had his eyes not been blinded or shut, Frankenstein would not have been able to continue the process of creation; as soon as he opens his eyes, he runs away. The only character who does not seem to see a monster in Frankenstein's creation is the older De Lacey, a blind man. The monster later convinces Frankenstein to listen to his story only once the monster makes himself invisible and disappears from Frankenstein's sight: the monster places his hand before Frankenstein's eyes [2.2.7] so that Frankenstein will be able to support the encounter.

Since the face of the monster cannot be looked at, since he never becomes a "master of their language[,] which knowledge might enable me to make them overlook the deformity of my figure" (109), there can be no vision of the monster's inside. The outside -- his face -- does not reflect the inside, as the monster complains: "I have good dispositions; my life has been hitherto harmless, and, in some degree, beneficial; but a fatal prejudice clouds their eyes, and where they ought to see a feeling and kind friend, they behold only a detestable monster" (130). Whereas, for the other characters, it is through the eyes that the face-to-face encounter is established, in the case of the monster the impossibility of a face-to-face encounter of seeing through his face into his "kind" inside, is articulated as a problem of eyes. In the monster's narrative the reason he gives for why people cannot see him as the kindred person he is lies in the "prejudice" that "clouds" -- forms an opacity in -- people's eyes. If as the Preface states, "no inference is to be drawn" from the novel as "prejudicing any philosophical doctrine of whatever kind" [Preface 2], a "prejudice" nonetheless "clouds eyes" -- Elizabeth's "blue eyes cloudless" [1.1.3] among them --, preventing them from seeing a "kind friend." Through the clouding of "blue eyes cloudless," the "prejudice" locates itself in the emblem of the domestic affection-virtue couple which is nonetheless said not to be a "prejudice" in the Preface.

In Frankenstein's narrative what makes the monster a monster is the horror of his eyes. As Frankenstein describes him, "his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun white sockets in which they were set" (52). Whereas the hair and teeth are called "luxuriances," the eyes are what forms the "horrid contrast." {856} The horror of the monster's face thus stems from the eyes (his own eyes or people's eyes). Instead of reflecting the inside, the face of the monster functions as a barrier, as a separation between him and the world: "The human senses are an insurmountable barrier to our union," the monster says (141).

The unpresentability of the monster's face is thus the impossibility of seeing him face-to-face. The radicality of this impossibility is reinforced by the opposition we have just examined between the opacity of the monster's face and the transparency of the faces of all the other characters. The only way the monster's face is "seen" is by looking away from it. The mode in which the monster's face "appears" is disappearance. Emmanuel Levinas's notion of the face, a notion that comprises his distinction between the empirical (phenomenal) and the ethical (non-phenomenal) face, could organize an entire reading of the insistent theme of the face in Frankenstein. Throughout his oeuvre, Levinas's articulation of the face posits an empirical face, the face insofar as it appears phenomenally, and the ethical face, the face insofar as it precedes phenomenological vision (hence, non-traditionally "ethical" since ethics traditionally presupposes a logic of the visible, knowable, thematizable, and intentional).12 The phenomenal is an aspect of the ethical, just as, for Levinas, philosophy derives from ethics and not vice versa as has been thought at least since Aristotle. The face is ethical insofar as it exceeds phenomenology, as Levinas explains when asked, somewhat erroneously, about his "phenomenology of the face":

Je ne sais si l'on peut parler de "phénomenologie" du visage, puisque la phénomenologie décrit ce qui apparâit. . . . Je pense plutôt que l'accès au visage est d'emblée éthique. C'est lorsque vous voyez un nez, des yeux, un front, un menton, et que vous pouvez les décrire, que vous vous tournez vers autrui comme vers un objet. . . . La relation avec le visage peut certes être dominée par la perception, mais ce qui est spécifiquement visage, c'est ce qui ne s'y réduit pas.13
This face "must appear as non-phenomenon," it is "phenomenality as disappearance."14 That is, to see a face as a phenomenon is to see a face at least twice (to sustain a vision of it), which is the same as losing the "access to the face." The face first appears nonphenomenally; when one sees it well enough to describe it, one no longer sees "what is specifically the face." Levinas's distinction is useful for distinguishing between the non-phenomenality of the monster's face and the phenomenality of all the other characters' {857} faces, and for uncovering the ethical dimension of the (impossible) face-to-face encounter with the monster. Indeed, one cannot look at Elizabeth's face without seeing it as respectable, describable, a "distinct species" [1.1.3], whereas one can never sustain looking at the monster's face and hence always only sees it as non- phenomenon, as the "specific" spectral aspect not to be "overlooked."

That Frankenstein takes up traditional "ethical" issues of duty, justice, and law is blatantly obvious, and many critics have already investigated the question of duty and responsibility in the novel in terms of what is called "parenting."15 Frankenstein has a duty toward the monster, but unlike his own dutiful father, Frankenstein renounces his duty. Justice is a mockery (the Justine episode) because "falsehood can look so like the truth" (as Elizabeth discovers, thereby destroying any "assur[ance] of certain happiness" [88]), and truth is a mockery because promises of virtue could be "feigned" (as Frankenstein fears the monster's promises to be). No reader fails to notice Frankenstein's failure in his responsibility as a parent. Yet the relation in the novel between duty, responsibility, command, justice (i.e., the ethical), and the "face" that only "shows" itself by its punning "hideousness" uncovers another layer of duty and responsibility, an other "ethico-moral."

Neither the monster's face in Frankenstein nor the Levinasian non-phenomenal face can be looked at face-to-face; they have not only a disappearing phenomenality, but are both radically other because they do not belong to the order of representation. In the Levinasian notion of the non-phenomenal face, the other is given over as other that is, as that which does not reveal itself. The face thus only "appears" insofar as it disappears, that is, it only "appears" or "arrives" in and as trace. The monster, too, only ever appears in the process of his disappearing, through his traces, scattered linguistically in mountain faces and mountain names, and in "the print of his huge step on the white plain" [3.7.3] and "inscriptions" [3.7.5]. Extending his analysis of the relation between the face and the trace, Levinas writes in "La Trace de l'autre": "Une certaine idée de Dieu devait se montrer comme trace à la fin de notre analyse."16 Indeed, God, like the face only reveals itself through its trace: "Être à l'image de Dieu, ne signifie pas être l'icone de Dieu, mais se trouver dans sa trace. Le Dieu révéle de notre spiritualité judéo-chrétienne conserve tout l'infini de son absence qui est dans l'ordre personnel même. II ne se montre que par sa trace" (623). The face is neither the face of God nor the figure of man. Insofar as the face opens and exceeds the totality {858} (insofar as the face of Yahweh is the total person and the total presence of "the Eternal speaking to Moses" and saying to him "Thou canst not see my face"), the face (God) marks the limit of all power and the origin of the ethical.

In Frankenstein the numerous exclamations of "Great God!" in response to whenever the monster "shows" itself all testify rhetorically to the relation between God, the monster, and the face as trace. The exclamation "Great God!" is thus a place to begin investigating the theme of duty and the exigency of the ethical in Frankenstein. "Great God!" (or "Good God!") is exclaimed by either Walton, Frankenstein, Ernest, or the old man De Lacey, (20, 52, 74, 75, 131, 188, 193, 216). If we do not read these exclamations as empty signifiers meaningless in their call to God or as mere indicators of a character's surprise, but instead literally as apostrophes, we can read them as identifications of the monster with God by contiguity. Indeed, excepting the first case (which refers to Frankenstein), the exclamation refers to the monster. At the moment when the monster comes into being, when he opens his eyes, Frankenstein exclaims: "Beautiful! Great God!" (52). Although most essays on Frankenstein cite these words within a longer quotation and focus on Frankenstein's realization that the creature he meant to be beautiful is not, to my knowledge only one critic, Paul Youngquist, focuses on the latter exclamation as such. He identifies its function as "psychological."17 Youngquist writes: "I think the clue to these powerful responses [to the monster] appears in the spontaneous outbursts of Frankenstein and De Lacey upon first recognizing the monster for what he is. Both are in some sense father figures, and both exclaim 'Great God!' Their disgust is so complete that it provokes a spontaneous turn to the divine. What is going on here, I believe, is a reenactment of an archaic psychological drama" (345). The "psychological drama" is that one turns "spontaneously" to divinity when confronted with an "incarnation of evil" (345). I would like to suggest that the "drama" may not be spontaneously "psychological" but instead linguistic. Rather than invoking divinity, "Great God!" attempts to name a face that does not show itself and therefore cannot be seen. God's face is what does not appear, as Exodus, a text that Frankenstein alludes to, tells us. In other words, "Great God!" functions as metonymic naming of the monster; "Great God!" refers to an attribute (non-apparition of the face) of what it designates (the unnameable "monster").

This identification between God and the monster in terms of the {859} absent face operates through an allusion to the scene of God's revelation to Moses (Exodus). The scene of Frankenstein's first conversation with the monster takes place in the mountains, where Frankenstein "remained in a recess of the rock" looking upon the summits with the monster approaching over "the crevices of the ice" (93-94). Here the monster relieves Frankenstein of any vision: "'Thus I relieve thee, my creator,' he said, and placed his hated hands before my eyes" (96). Both the location and the gesture of the hand before the creator Frankenstein's eyes allude to Exodus where God's hand blocks Moses's vision. God says, "Thou canst not see my face . . . thou shalt stand upon a rock, . . . I will put thee in a clift on a rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen" (Exodus 33:20-23). Just as God and Moses seem to meet upon a rock, with Moses in a cleft, the monster and Frankenstein meet "in a recess of the rock," above various "crevices," so that they are both upon cliffs and within clefts. Just as God's face remains unseeable because God hides himself save for his "back parts," the "hideous" monster is always only seen while going away or when the viewer looks away. If Frankenstein's encounter and conversation with the monster in the mountains evokes Moses's encounter with God on Mount Sinai, if the monster's face "resembles" metonymically God's face, then the parallelism between God's face and the monster's face extends to Frankenstein's reaction of horror before all faces and not only before the monster's face ("I abhorred the face of man," he says, thus recalling Elizabeth's "the visages of men which I abhor" [83]). As Edmond Jabès describes the relation to God's face in The Book of Questions: "All faces are His, this is why HE has no face."18 Similarly in Frankenstein, Frankenstein's horror comes from the fact that he "sees" the monster's face in all faces: he "abhors" the face of man because every face "presents" (the threat of) the monster's face. Yet because all faces are the monster's, the monster has no face, no one phenomenal visage.19

The monster and the ethical are related, the text suggests, not only by the association between the monster and God (Levinas's ethical face) but also by another network of associations that links the monster and the Law.

While the monster's face cannot be looked at, his voice pronounces an imperative command that he be listened to, attended. While Frankenstein's first encounter with the monster after his creation is characterized by the impossibility of the face-to-face encoun- {860} ter (the monster has to put his hand over Frankenstein's eyes, thereby hiding his gaze from Frankenstein), this encounter is placed under the sign of an imperative to listen. Indeed, the monster repeatedly demands to be heard: "I entreat you to hear me" (95), "Listen to my tale" (96), "Hear me" (96), "Listen to me, Frankenstein" (96), "Listen to me" (96). After covering Frankenstein's eyes, the monster continues, "Still thou canst listen to me" (96), "Hear my tale" (96), and in the future anterior, "You will have heard my story" (96). These commands of "hear me" or "listen to me" have the result that "for the first time . . . I [Frankenstein] felt what the duties of a creator towards his creature were. These motives urged me to comply with his demand . . . I consented to listen" (97). From the call to listen, from the command to pay attention, results a sense of duty. Frankenstein's listening to the call is motivated. Without extending an intertextual reading of Frankenstein and Kant's Critique of Practical Reason, I want to note the Kantian heritage of these terms that structure, at least in part, the problematic of the Law in Frankenstein.

The stress on the imperative "listen!" is Frankenstein's inheritance from Kantian Achtung, translatable as "respect" or "attention." "Respect" is a morally motivated and interested but otherwise disinterested "attention." Achtung is intimately bound to "what" the Law says, which is "Listen!" Along with the imperative "listen!" Frankenstein inherits the concomitant Kantian "feeling of duty" (i.e., "respect," the non-pathological "feeling" of "duty" [Pflicht]) and "motives" (Triebfeder).20 Accompanied by the same terms, the monster in Frankenstein begins to appear, as it were, as the allegory, if not irony, of the Law in Kant. If motivation to listen comes from the Law (i.e., from the representation of the Law by pure practical reason), then the motives, for Kant, cannot be suspected of any base self-interest. By a suspicious parallel, "these motives" (97) bespoken by Frankenstein, coming from the monster, are thus Lawful.

From the monster's imperative "Listen to me" and from his command "do your duty to me" stems a sense of duty on Frankenstein's part ("I felt what the duties of a creator towards his creature were") and a sense of the justice of the monster's command: "I felt that there was some justice in his argument" (142). Although Frankenstein is at first not persuaded that he should obey the monster's request for a female companion, the monster's speeches produce compassion: "His words had a strange effect upon me. I compassionated him" (143). Moved by the monster, Frankenstein ends up con- {861} cluding that he "should comply with his request" (144). As long as Frankenstein hears the command, the imperative of the voice, he complies.

Reinforcing the link between the voice of the monster and the voice of command is Frankenstein's description of his family life prior to his departure for Ingolstadt and prior therefore to the creation of the monster: "Such was our domestic circle, from which care and pain seemed for ever banished. My father directed our studies, and my mother partook of our enjoyments. Neither of us possessed the slightest pre-eminence over the other; the voice of command was never heard amongst us; but the mutual affection engaged us all to comply with and obey the slightest desire of each other" (37). No voice of command was ever heard in the domestic circle prior to the creation of the monster. The pre-monster world is thus characterized by the absence of the voice of command. We saw the Preface link the creation of the monster to a certain form of "command": "the event on which the interest of the story depends . . . affords a point of view . . . of human passions more comprehensive and commanding than any" (6). The creation of the monster is the event that introduces both (moral) interest in the story and the notion of command ("commanding passions").

While there is no voice of command before the creation of the monster, while Frankenstein's encounter with the monster is an encounter with the voice that commands to listen, echoes of this "voice of command" reverberate throughout the text insofar as the different characters recurrently hear imperious voices. On the boat from Ireland to France, Frankenstein says that "groans and cries rung in my ears" (181). Only "by the utmost self-violence" is he able to "curb the imperious voice of wretchedness" (183) that speaks commandingly through him. Elizabeth also hears voices: "Something whispers to me not to depend too much on the prospect that is opened before us; but I will not listen to such a sinister voice" (190). But to such a voice, one already listens before one can decide not to listen. One may hide from the hideousness, but "the voice of the pure moral law, as practical reason represents it to us to be obeyed," "makes even the most cunning transgressor tremble" while "forcing him to hide himself from its gaze."21

The command of the monster's voice ringing in Frankenstein's ear links the monster with the Law, a linkage only reinforced by the fact that both the Law and the monster are identified with the mountain. In the novel, various textual associations are made between the {863} "insurmountable" monster (155) and the "insurmountable" mountains (190). For example, "awful Mont Blanc" (93) evokes the blankness, the inaccessibility, and the unpresentability of the face (of the monster), just as, immediately prior to the "face to hand/face" confrontation with the monster, "the thick mists hid the summits of the mountains" "so that I even saw not the faces of those mighty friends" (91, 249). Moreover, the "glassy lake and white high Alps" beyond Mary Shelley's "opened" eyes follow in the sentences immediately after her nightmare, her Alp- traum, about the student "awakened" beneath the "watery . . . eyes" of the "horrid thing" (Introduction; Alp, the common name for a ghost who causes bad dreams, is contained within the proper name "Alps"). The signifier of another mountain chain, the "Jura," recurrently mentioned in the novel, is another important suggestion of the ethical dimension of such unpresentability. Indeed, the name "Jura" is a homonym with the Latin jura, the plural of jus, which means law. If homonymy is the case of one word having two different meanings, is this really any different than a secret agent having at least two different identities for one body? Like a spy, a pun is different but looks the same. Is not a homonym -- as a kind of mimesis -- to be expected from someone who is said to have written her story out of a "playful desire of imitation" and "did not scruple to innovate upon their combinations" (7)? Wouldn't Jura (the mountain) be merely a kind of double or replica for jura (laws)? Many, and often repeated, instances of near homonyms interact systematically throughout Frankenstein, such as "friend/fiend" and "my story/mystery," not to mention the very important linkage between "curiosity" (from cura) and "care" (from Hyginus's fable of Cura, of which Frankenstein is, after all, a rewriting). "Hovel" (in the monster's narrative), nearly identical to "novel" (in Mary Shelley's Introduction), operates to link the marginality of the monster with that of Mary Shelley. And the monster's "mutter[ing]" (to mutter and Mutter, German for "mother") confirms Mary Jacobus's insight into the "bizarre pun" on "mummy" (both monster and mother).22

In the context of these undercover replicants, it is possible that Jura could have a secret function as jura because "the secret would also be homonymy, not so much a hidden resource of homonymy but the functional possibility of homonymy or of mimesis."23 The relation between Jura (hence the monster, associated with the mountain) and the law is reinforced by the fact that the same image of darkness is used to describe both the mountain and the profes- {863} sion of judge. In connection with the possibility of Ernest's becoming a judge, Elizabeth says: "a judge, whose misfortune it was always to meddle with the dark side of human nature" (60). Frankenstein describes the Jura by the same attribute: "We saw the mighty Jura opposing its dark side to the ambition that would quit its native country, and an almost insurmountable barrier to the invader" (190); "I discovered more distinctly the black sides of Jura" (70). The "Jura" is only seen from its "dark side," its "black sides." Likewise, the judge is textually presented in terms of "the dark side of human nature," thus echoing the "dark side" or "black side" of what supposedly is mere "Alp." The linkage of "judge" with "Jura" through the common term "dark side" plus the sense of "Jura" as jura suggest that the mountain has a special relation with law. Moreover, since the mountain evokes the monster, the chain of association links the Jura to the monster and to the law.

If the monster operates in the way uncovered by the Levinasian ethical face (God) and the Kantian moral law, then the monster embodies a radical sense of the ethical, a sense of the ethical radically other than the ethical values apparently valorized in the Preface and in the novel. The Preface frames Frankenstein in terms of its moral interest:

I am by no means indifferent to the manner in which whatever moral tendencies exist in the sentiments or characters it contains shall affect the reader; yet my chief concern in this respect has been limited to the [sic] avoiding the enervating effects of the novels of the present day, and to the exhibition of the amiableness of domestic affection, and the excellence of universal virtue. (7)
The combination of "domestic affection" -- which the novel always situates near "happiness" -- and "universal virtue" are the "chief concern" in the novel. Happiness and virtue are not only central concerns in Frankenstein, they are also at the center of Kant's discourse on morality in the Critique of Practical Reason. For Kant, from the point of view of morality, there can be no union, no exhibition of a union of happiness and virtue (except for a synthetic, that is, transcendental union). They constitute the conflict that he calls the "antinomy of pure practical reason." That is, in the thought of the Law (in "pure practical reason"), happiness and virtue are antinomic in every non-transcendental representation.

Frankenstein dramatizes the Kantian antinomy between happiness and virtue at several levels. We have already noted that the Preface {864} says of the novel that its "chief concern" in "respect" of "moral tendencies" is to combine happiness and virtue in one presentation: the "exhibition of the amiableness of domestic affection and the excellence of universal virtue." Just as Kant takes the notion of "virtue" from the "Stoics," and thus from Seneca, in Frankenstein, Walton is a reader of Seneca: "I will repeat the lessons of my Seneca, and die with a good heart" (210), repeating Frankenstein's invocation of "the Stoics" and "Cato" [69]). This invocation of Seneca only underscores the conflictual relation between "happiness" and "virtue" since Walton in the next sentence tells his sister, "You may be happy" [Walton 5]. Margaret, safe in England, may be happy (which means "Epicurean"), while Walton may die virtuous. Moreover, the monster himself embodies the antinomy between happiness and virtue. He tells Frankenstein that he was virtuous, but was not happy, and therefore became no longer virtuous. For this reason he proceeds to ask Frankenstein for happiness: "Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous" (95); "By the virtues that I once possessed, I demand this from you" (96). But as Frankenstein realizes when he decides to destroy the female companion he "promised" to make, being happy is not a guarantee of virtue (there is no guarantee that a happy monster will not destroy mankind). And the monster's final discourse returns to these issues: "When I first sought [sympathy], it was the love of virtue, the feelings of happiness and affection with which my whole being overflowed, that I wished to be participated. But now, that virtue has become to me a shadow, and that happiness and affection are turned into bitter and loathing despair" (218). The monster's wish is to be a part of virtue and of happiness and affection. Instead, as that "event" said in the Preface to be "impossible as a physical fact," he is the principle of the perpetual disjunction of any "exhibition" of the happiness-virtue couple. The monster is thus the critique of hypocritical morality, the crisis or antinomy of that "moral" coupling by which the Preface in its role as play-acting pretext absolves Frankenstein from being merely "a tale of spectres" [Preface 1]. Thus, Walton's accusation against the monster, "Hypocritical fiend!" [Walton 14] names instead what it would thereby excuse, the domestic circle of "friends."

The combination of virtue and happiness is dramatized throughout the novel at the level of the "domestic circle." We noted that in the "domestic circle" prior to the creation of the monster, "the voice of command was never heard amongst us; but mutual affection engaged us all to comply with and obey the slightest desire of each {865} other" (37). The economy of the home here is one where happiness and virtue are united, for "mutual affection" results in virtuous behavior. One is happy to "comply" and "obey" and is thereby also virtuous (insofar as "virtue" is the quality or practice of moral excellence). In this "domestic circle," after the death of the mother Caroline Beaufort-Frankenstein, Elizabeth becomes the lightning rod of virtue by making others happy:

My mother's death, and my speedy departure, depressed our spirits; but Elizabeth endeavoured to renew the spirit of cheerfulness in our little society. Since the death of her aunt, her mind had acquired new firmness and vigour. She determined to fulfill her duties with the greatest exactness; and she felt that that most imperious duty, of rendering her uncle and cousins happy, had devolved upon her. . . . She was continually endeavouring to contribute to the happiness of others, entirely forgetful of herself. (39)
This depiction of Elizabeth echoes the earlier picture of her as the upright and domestic "garden rose" orphaned in the "rude abode" [1.1.3].

When Frankenstein, after his encounter with the monster, re-enters the domestic sphere in Geneva, "union," "domestic comfort," "affection," "happiness," "immediate union," "peace," "domestic calm," and "monotony of a domestic life" pepper the pages of his narrative (146-49). Marriage to Elizabeth is proposed by the father as "the tie of our domestic comfort" [3.1.2]. This plan of marriage is presented as "happiness." Alphonse Frankenstein says that he does not want to force Frankenstein into it: "Do not suppose, however, that I wish to dictate happiness to you." Marriage as the "tie of domestic comfort" is equated with "happiness." Frankenstein has some unfinished business (the "prospect" (252) of making the female companion) that necessitates a delay in the marriage, but hopes to be "restore[d] to [the family] in peace and happiness" (150). As his father says and Mary Shelley underlines in the Thomas copy (Mrs. Thomas's copy of Frankenstein): "These two years will pass swiftly . . . and it will be the last delay that will oppose itself to your happiness. And, indeed, I earnestly desire that period to arrive, when we shall all be united, and neither hopes or fears arise to disturb our domestic calm" (150). Frankenstein sees the prospect of marriage as one of "happiness": "I am content . . . with your arrangement. By that time we shall both have become wiser, and I hope happier" (150). Although the marriage takes place, it does not bring happiness and virtue, and there is no return to the "domestic circle," except when he joins "the ceme- {866} tery where William, Elizabeth, and my father reposed" (199). The "domestic circle" would be one of happiness, where making (the others) happy is a duty through which one would accomplish virtue.

For Kant, "virtue and happiness together constitute the possession of the highest good for one person" (KpV, 110), but their combination is impossible: virtue and happiness constitute the antinomy of pure practical reason. According to Kant one cannot be virtuous unless one is happy, but being happy does not guarantee virtue. Indeed, Kant warns against being too hopeful for any empirical resolution of this antinomy:

Thus the question, "How is the highest good practically possible?" remains an unsolved problem in spite of all previous attempts at conciliation. . . . Happiness and morality are two specifically different elements of the highest good and therefore their combination cannot be known analytically. (KpV, 112)
If there is no resolution of this antinomy between happiness and virtue, then Kant says that all law is only "fantastic," fictive, and fake: "If, therefore, the highest good is impossible . . . , then the moral law which commands that it be furthered must be fantastic, directed to empty imaginary ends, and consequently inherently false" (KpV, 114). Without retracing the steps of Kant's "Critical Resolution" of this antinomy, let us give only his conclusion: the connection between virtue and happiness -- the highest good -- may be thought to be possible synthetically, but never known or understood; it is only a priori: "A natural and necessary connection between the consciousness of morality [virtue] and the expectation of proportionate happiness as its consequence may be thought at least possible, though it is by no means known or understood" (KpV, 119). If one can say that the "synthesis" between happiness and virtue is possible only in terms of an a priori, only deducible transcendentally, and if the transcendental deduction is fundamentally, radically imaginative, as Heidegger forcefully argues, then happiness and virtue are only connected in an imaginative deduction -- let us say in that "imagination" which the Preface calls "impossible as physical fact" [Preface 1].24 Kant does not want to admit this imagination at the empirico-analytic level; to do so would be to make law subservient to representation and to surrender thereby reason to the "nonsense and insanity of imagination" (KpV, 120). If this "fantastic" situation were the only {867} possible one, i.e., if law stemmed from fantasy, then, as Kant adds, all unions of virtue with happiness would give rise to "monstrosities" (Ungeheuer) (KpV, 121).

According to Kant, the real monster is then the union of "happiness and virtue" in fiction. For Kant, "monstrosity" is the result of the blending of happiness and virtue at the empirico-analytical level. This Kantian reading of Frankenstein (the counterpart of the Shelleyan reading of the Critique of Practical Reason embodied by the novel Frankenstein -- for it is known that Percy and Mary read the second Critique) finds that the real monster in the novel is not the character that Frankenstein designates as "monster" (for he is clearly the antinomy, the conflict, and not the union) but instead the fiction of the domestic union of happiness and virtue, a union that takes the form of what is called the "domestic circle" in which happiness and virtue are supposedly united. The real monstrosity or Ungeheuer is not the character of the "monster" but the domestic scene and its discourse on virtue, happiness, and affection.

According to Kant, the only union of virtue and happiness that is not a monstrosity has to occur at the transcendental level. If we follow Heidegger's reading of the transcendental in Kant as that which has its root, unbeknownst to us, in imagination, then the transcendental still belongs to imagination. The character called "monster" in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is the transcendental, i.e., non-empirical, non-phenomenal deduction of the monstrosity of the happiness-virtue couple. The character designated as "monster" is the a priori, the condition of the possibility of seeing the real, domestic montrosity, a horror never re-coverable thereafter; that domestic monstrosity is what the Preface calls the "exhibition of affection and excellence of universal virtue" [Preface 2].

If, in addition, Heidegger is right when he says that the "essential structure of respect [Achtung]," of the oxymoronic "moral feeling," allows the "original conception of transcendental imagination to step forth," and that "the origin of practical reason" comes "out of transcendental imagination," then the moral derives, in short, from fiction.25 Yet such was already detected in the Preface. "Respect" for the "moral" is co-original with "a mere tale of spectres." This co-originality reveals "respect" for what it is: first, a moral value of the happiness-virtue couple rendered visible as horrible by the monster by the "tale" of the "dreaded spectre"; second, another metathesis "re-spect" being merely an inversion of "spect-re," recalling again {868} that "I have not scrupled to innovate upon their combinations."26

Contained within the term "spectre," "respect" -- as nothing less than the linchpin (Triebfeder) of Kantian moral philosophy so parodically invoked in the Preface -- is transmogrified into re-spect, a doubled or spectralized respect. The Preface locates the text Frankenstein in the interval between "respect" -- its moral claim -- and "spectre" -- its poetic aspect. Likewise, the sequential order of the Preface locates "respect" (7) in its middle, preceded by "spectres" (6) and followed by "stories of ghosts" bearing the title, as Rieger informs us, Fantasmagoriana, ou Receuil d'Histoires d'Apparitions de Spectres, Revenans, Fantômes, etc. (7n). Moreover, it is when the "dreaded spectre" realizes that he cannot be looked at ("the human senses are insurmountable barriers") that he doubts whether he should respect man ("Shall I respect man, when he contemns me?"), an utterance which invokes listening but no re-spect from Frankenstein, who comments, "as he said this[,] his face was wrinkled into contortions too horrible for human eyes to behold" (141). Elizabeth even says of William's murderer that he is "perhaps respected" (88), unknowingly referring to the monster. Such a tale is structured by the "rule" to which it "conforms," the ethics of a "ghastly" speaking "visage" whose "figure hideously deformed" -- i.e., "the deformity of its aspect" (71) -- exceeds vision or respect while simultaneously demanding a hearing or respect. In the "deformed figure," in the non- apparent face of the monster, in the spectre, "respect" is re-written as radically ethical.

The "monster" as critique of hypocrisy in Frankenstein suggests that what is at stake in the novel is a radical sense of ethics related to the non-phenomenal face (of the monster). This ethic is radically other than traditional ethical values of happiness and virtue in the "domestic circle" (including the responsibilities and duties of "parenting"). An identification of happiness and virtue, not to mention respect or phenomenal vision, with monstrosity undermines the apparent opposition between the "monster" (morally bad) and the domestic circle (virtuous, happy, morally good). Whereas the combination of happiness and virtue is a figure of monstrosity, the ethic associated with the unpresentable monstre is a responsibility of listening to a voice of command that commands to listen before commanding to do something. The "hideous" figure disjoins parental responsibility from this other responsibility towards the unpresentable. Between what critics fault as failed parental responsibility to- {869} wards the "issue" and a responsibility towards this unpresentable, the asymmetry is fundamental.


I would like to thank Joseph Chaney for his helpful readings of and suggestions for this essay.

1. Histoire de la folie à l'âge classique (Paris: Gallimard, 1972), 163. Krystian Czerniecki also recalls that "le monstre meant, finally, a spectacle or a representation," in "Deracination: Phèdre's Monstrous Pedagogy," MLN 103, no. 5 (1988): 1012-31. See also Gilbert Lascault's chapter "Le Monstre parle" in Le Monstre dans l'art occidental (Paris: Klincksieck,1973); Chris Baldick's chapter "The Monster Speaks: Mary Shelley's Novel" in his In Frankenstein's Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity, and Nineteenth-Century Fiction (Oxford: Clarendon, 1987); Daniel Cottom's "Frankenstein and the Monster of Representation," SubStance 28 (1980): 60-71; and Barbara Freeman's "Frankenstein with Kant: A Theory of Monstrosity, or the Monstrosity of Theory," SubStance 52 (1987): 21-31. In this essay, all emphases in citations are mine unless otherwise indicated.

2. "La Main de Heidegger (Geschlecht 11)," in Heidegger et la question (Paris: Flammarion, 1990), 182. Derrida's emphases.

3. The edition of Frankenstein quoted is that by James Rieger (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984). The "Preface" consists of pages 6-8.

4. The Preface is universally held to be authored by Percy Shelley. But, especially for Frankenstein, what is the author-function? As Foucault puts it, "the author function is not defined by the spontaneous attribution of a discourse to its producer, but rather by a series of specific and complex operations; . . . it does not refer purely and simply to a real individual, since it can give rise simultaneously to several selves, to several subjects." "What is an Author?" in Textual Strategies, ed. Josué Harari (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1979), 153.

5. See Roman Jakobson, "Two Aspects of Language and Two Types of Aphasic Disturbances," in Language in Literature (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987).

6. Reiterating such a face and the Shakespeare/German-story link, the "Introduction" notes among these "ghost stories" a "tale" about a "shadowy form" who, "clothed like the ghost in Hamlet, in complete armour, but with the beaver up," "kissed the forehead of [his] boys" while "eternal sorrow sat upon his face" (224).

7. Frankenstein's father, presenting marriage to his son as the way to happiness and virtue, conjures, "Interpret my words . . . and answer me, I conjure you," "I conjure you" (148, 149).

8. Kritik der reinen Vernunft (Hamburg: Meiner, 1990), B 177. Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Norman Kemp Smith (New York: St. Martin's, 1965), translations modified. Hereafter abbreviated as KrV. It is "a priori pure imagination [Einbildungskraft] through and according to which pictures [Bilder] become first of all possible, [yet] pictures can be connected with the concept only by means of the schema, which pictures signify; by themselves, pictures are not fully congruent with the concept" (KrV, B 181). Without a schema, a picture or signifier cannot refer to a concept or signified; such a picture could not be seen as representation or as figuration, because "figures in space" need "the schema," the "schema [which is] a monogram of pure imagination" (KrV, B 181). The monster, the "deformed figure" without name, is such a "picture."

9. In his November 14, 1897 letter to Fliess, Freud speculates that morality originated with the biped's "upright walking, nose raised from the ground," and that "perversion results" in the human being who, unable to "turn up his nose," "continues" to be an "animal." The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess, 1887-1904 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985), 279.

10. The face is readable transparently: "Elizabeth read my anguish in my countenance . . . 'There is an expression of despair, and sometimes of revenge, in your countenance, that makes me tremble'" (89); it is a painting: "My father . . . saw in the unhappiness that was painted in my face only an exaggeration of that sorrow which I might naturally feel." The face is a magnifying lens through which one can see the inside. William Frankenstein, Mr. Krempe, Mr. Waldmann, Mr. Kerwin, or the Irish "hired nurse" all have their moral quality (or lack thereof) revealed through the figures of the face. The "hired nurse's "countenance expressed all those bad qualities which often characterize that class. The lines of her face were hard and rude, like that of persons accustomed to see without sympathizing sights of misery. . . . The expression of brutality was strongly marked in [her] visage" (175).

11. The monster prefigures Freud's incapacity for recognizing what he nonetheless sees. When a door opens in his train compartment, "an old man in a sleeping gown, travelling cap on his head, came in. I assumed that . . . he had taken the wrong direction . . . I sprang up in order to correct him, but soon, startled, recognized that the intruder was my own image sketched in the mirror of the adjoining door. I still know that I thoroughly disliked this appearance. Instead therefore of being terrified by [my] double, [I] simply agnosized [agnosziert] it." "The 'Uncanny'," Standard Edition, trans. James Strachey (London: Hogarth, 1985), 17:248 (translation modified), "Das Unheimliche," Gesammelte Werke (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer), 12:262-63.

12. As Levinas puts it: "Se manifester comme visage, c'est s'imposer par-delà la forme, manifestée et purement phénoménale, se présenter d'une façon, irréductible à la manifestation, comme la droiture même du face à face, sans intermédiaire d'aucune image," Totalité et infini, 2d ed. (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1971), 215 (emphasis in original).

13. Ethique et infini (Paris: Fayard, 1982), 79-80.

14. Jacques Derrida, "Violence and Metaphysics," in Writing and Difference trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), 103, 129.

15. Among others: Ellen Moers, "Female Gothic," in The Endurance of Frankenstein, ed. Levine and Knoepflmacher (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1979); S. M. Gilbert and S. Gubar, "Horror's Twin," in The Madwoman in the Attic (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979); Mary Poovey, "My Hideous Progeny: Mary Shelley and the Feminization of Romanticism," PMLA 95 (May 1980): 332-47; Barbara Johnson, "My Monster/My Self," Diacritics (Summer 1982): 2-10; Laura P. Claridge, "Parent-child tensions in Frankenstein: the Search for Communion," Studies in the Novel 17, no. I (1985): 14-26; William Veeder, Mary Shelley and Frankenstein: The Fate of Androgyny (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986); Anne K Mellor, Mary Shelley: Her Life, her Fiction, her Monsters (London: Methuen, 1988).

16. Emmanuel Levinas "La Trace de l'autre," Tijdschrift voor Filosofie 3 (September 1963): 611.

17. Paul Youngquist, "Frankenstein: The Mother, the Daughter, and the Monster," Philological Quarterly 70, no. 3 (1991): 339-59.

18. Edmond Jabès, cited by Derrida, "Violence and Metaphysics," 109.

19. This logic of the face that is everywhere and nowhere almost applies even to Frankenstein, as M. Krempe says: "He has now set himself at the head of the university," and "soon we shall all be out of countenance" (64).

20. For Kant's Achtung as "listening," see Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen's "Ecoute!" Poésie 35 (1986): 88-110; Jean-Francois Lyotard's "L'Intérêt du sublime" in Du Sublime (Paris: Belin, 1988) and The Differend, trans. Georges Van Den Abbeele (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987). Triebfeder -- which I render here as "motive" -- is translated as "drive" in English, but as mobile, i.e., "motive," in French. The "respect" for the "moral" was introduced in the "Preface" as a "motive": "Other motives were mingled with these, as the work proceeded. I am by no means indifferent to the manner in which whatever moral tendencies exist in the sentiments or characters it contains shall affect the reader. My chief concern in this respect. . . ."

21. Immanuel Kant, Kritik der praktischen Vernunft (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1912), 80 (Akademie-Ausgabe, vol. 5). Critique of Practical Reason, ed. and trans. Lewis White Beck (New York: Macmillan, 1993), translations modified. Hereafter abbreviated as KpV.

22. "Is there a Woman in this Text?" New Literary History 14, no. 1 (1982): 131.

23. Jacques Derrida, "Passions," trans. David Wood, in Derrida: A Critical Reader, ed. David Wood (London, Cambridge: Blackwell, 1992), 21. Derrida has augmented this essay in his forthcoming On the Name, ed. Thomas Dutoit (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995).

24. "Transcendental imagination is the disquieting unknown [our "root unknown to us" which Kant spoke of as imagination], which became the determining basis for [Kant's] new version of transcendental deduction." Martin Heidegger, Kant und das Problem der Metaphysik, (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1991), 162; translation mine. Kant's "transcendental imagination" is itself the hauntingly sublimated version of "fiction" (fictio, Erdichtung) which Kant had rejected in Dreams of a Ghostseer, but which for this very reason made the transcendental possible, as Monique David-Ménard clearly demonstrates in her La Folie dans la raison pure (Paris: Vrin, 1991).

25. Ibid., 159-60.

26. In this way, the text quibbles with Samuel Johnson's claim that a writer who puns writes without morality: Shakespeare is among "the polite [who] are always catching modish innovations"; "a quibble [for] Shakespeare" has "some malignant power over his mind, and its fascinations are irresistible", "let but a quibble spring up before him, and he leaves his work unfinished," therefore "he sacrifices virtue to convenience, and is so much more careful to please than to instruct that he seems to write without moral purpose." "The Plays of William Shakespeare," in Samuel Johnson, ed. Donald Greene (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984), 426, 429, 427.