Contents Index

Frankenstein: Self-Division and Projection

William Veeder

Chapter 3 of Mary Shelley & Frankenstein: The Fate of Androgyny (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1986), 81-102

{81} I know people theorize Mick thought it would be amusing to marry his twin. But actually, he wanted to achieve the ultimate in loving himself.

Bianca Jagger
He dreams of guilt in disquiet.

Simone de Beauvoir
The war of Eros and Agape enters Frankenstein1 in the opening frame as men manifest a potential for androgyny and a penchant for bifurcation. At their best, Robert Walton and Victor Frankenstein balance gender traits admirably. Their "manly" qualities -- ambition, daring, scientific intelligence, physical hardihood -- are tempered by a sympathetic love of neighbor which manifests itself publicly in concern for human welfare and privately in affection for Margaret and Elizabeth. Robert and Victor also tend, however, to Erotic extremism. Masculine and feminine traits in their psyches polarize into willfulness and weakness; love for woman and concern for society are seriously undermined. After establishing bifurcation in the opening frame of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley goes on to show how Victor's riven psyche attempts to heal itself through the creation of the monster.

Robert and Margaret

The first androgyne was FatherSky-MotherEarth. Their sundering in mythology2 is reflected in the opposition of Eros and Agape. "Eros is the way by which man mounts up to the Divine, not the way [of Agape] by which the divine steps down to man. . . . this upward attraction of the soul is Eros" (Nygaren 178, 172). Erotic males aspire skyward in Frankenstein. Robert's "enthusiasm which elevates me {82} to heaven" (10) resounds in Victor's admiration for scientists who "ascend into the heavens" (42) and his exultation at having "trod heaven in my thoughts" (209). Both men reflect Percy Shelley who insists, "I could not descend to common life" (PSL 1:228, 10 Jan. 1812). Shelley's Queen Mab contrasts "native" spirituality with earthliness," our moribund physicality. The heroine Ianthe's spirit "reassumed/ Its native dignity" when "Instinct with inexpressible beauty and grace,/ Each stain of earthliness/ Had passed away" (1:134-37). Even when transcendence is thwarted, Shelley insists upon the Erotic equation of native and celestial. "Woe had beaten to earth a mind [Wolfstein's in St. Irvyne] whose native and unconfined energies aspired to heaven" (JS 5:144).

For Mary Shelley, the nativeis the earthly. "Human affections are the native, luxuriant growth of a heart . . . seek[ing] objects on whom to expend its yearnings" (Perkin Warbeck 3:351). Frankenstein presents nature in the form of "the mighty Jura opposing its dark side to the ambition that would quit its native country" 190). Ambitious males are forced to recognize, if not to accede to, the priority of the native. Walton in the opening frame laments that, unlike the "merchant-man now on its homeward voyage," he who has aspired beyond mundane commerce "may not see my native and, perhaps, for many years" (16). Victor soon admits "how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, ban he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow" (48).

With the sky/earth opposition reflecting conflicts between masculine and feminine forces in the psyche and between men and women in society, the opening frame of Frankenstein sets a woman in opposition to Promethean men. Margaret Saville has been seriously undervalued by critics. She is not just "an affectionate English lady who needs to be reassured that her brother is not in too much danger" (Kiely 167); still less is she a "faceless addressee" who has "no more existence in the novel than a postal address" (Brooks 220, 219). Mary Shelley makes Robert's correspondent a woman rather than a man -- a father or brother or mentor -- because gender qualifies for judgment in Frankenstein.

This wife-mother has a name appropriate to her moral authority. "Margaret" is a jewel, a "pearl" of great price. "Saville" suggests the native and communal through the French "sa ville." If Mary had not wanted this French connection, she would have used the traditional English spelling, Savile. Mary gives another excellent woman, Elizabeth in Falkner, the married name Neville. This tie to a husband {83} echoes Saville, since "neville" (birth town) is another way of saying "native," sa ville. By contrast, the maiden name of Lodore's intractable wife is Santerre. She is "sans terre" (landless), because she lives apart from her husband and child. Marriage, from Frankenstein to Falkner, is woman's native place.3

Together "Margaret" and "Saville" give to this native jewel the imprimatur of Mary Shelley's own initials, M.S. Moreover, since Mary affirms her Wollstonecraft heritage by using the middle initial "W," rather than the expectable "G," she is all the more associated with Margaret whose maiden name of Walton gives her too the middle initial "W." Why does Mrs. Mary W. Shelley omit the "W." from Mrs. Margaret Saville's name? For the same reason that Mary chooses the name Walton in the first place. "Walton" as "walled-town" suggests the isolation inevitable to Prometheans like Robert and Professor "Waldman." Only by leaving Robert's bachelor realm behind -- without even the trace of a middle initial -- can Margaret reach Saville, that native community which is the union of male with female and the ideal of Agape.

That Frankenstein opens with a man-woman relationship shows the priority of this bond for Mary Shelley. But the fact that the man seeks to bond with another man and the woman is already married presages the fate of complementarity and androgyny in the novel. Men and women war. Margaret as the embodiment of Mary's values cannot empathize with Promethean drives. And Robert knows it.

Do you [Margaret] understand this feeling? . . . I cannot describe to you my sensations. . . . It is impossible to communicate to you a conception of the trembling sensation. . . . You will smile at my allusion. . . . Will you laugh at the enthusiasm I express? (9, 15, 231, 24)
Man and woman disagree in the very first sentence of Frankenstein: ". . . an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings" (9). By phrasing it this way, Robert says more than that Margaret has foreseen trouble: "evil forebodings" indicates that foreseeing trouble seems evil, disloyal to him. He counterattacks in two characteristically male ways. "Will you laugh at the enthusiasm I express concerning this divine wanderer? If you do, you must have certainly lost that simplicity which was once your characteristic charm" (24). This is a threat. Adopting an independent viewpoint {84} would cost Margaret one of True Woman's premier virtues. Simplicity, tractability, is convenient for men, as Percy Shelley knew when he listed among Harriet's "greatest charms" her "simplicity," and when he implicitly qualified his praise for Mary's "originality . . . of mind" by insisting upon her "simplicity" (PSL 1:337, 12, Dec. 1812; 1:414, 28 Oct. 1814). Walton's other response to Margaret is a herd reflex. Defending against her skepticism his (and Shelley's) pet belief that the poles are ice-free, Robert trusts male expertise over female intuition. "With your leave, my sister, I will put some trust in preceding navigators" (10). The men of course are wrong, and the woman right. Cold increases as sa vale recedes. At issue are differences as basic as gender itself: the sensible versus the fanciful viewpoint, the warm versus the cold heart, ultimately the earth-abiding versus the sky-aspiring ideal.

Mary Shelley strengthens Margaret Saville's case against polar pursuits by carefully manipulating our response to Walton's crewmen. We initially accept at face value the statement that his lieutenant is "a man of wonderful courage and enterprise. . . ." But the second half of the sentence complicates this judgment: ". . . he is madly desirous of glory" (14). Next is the master of the ship who frees his fiancee to marry her lover: "'What a noble fellow!' you will exclaim. He is so. . ." (15). But again the sentence continues: ". . . but then he has passed all his life on board a vessel, and has scarcely an idea beyond the rope and the shroud."

Lest she should seem to overstate Margaret's case against aspiring men, Mary includes in the opening frame a counterinstance of exemplary male conduct. The master, having recognized the futility of his courtship, "abandoned his pursuit" (14). Futile pursuits need not end disastrously, like those of Robert and Victor and Shelley, if the will to master-y is tempered by the feminine traits of adaptability and sympathy. That men and women can agree about such pursuits -- that an androgynous union of masculine and feminine can occur in society as well as in the psyche -- is also established here. Margaret's criticism of her brother's Promethean quest puts her in agreement with their father who on his deathbed forbade such pursuits to Robert (11).

I question therefore the critical consensus that there is an admirable bond between Robert and Margaret. When Knoepflmacher calls the two "complementary" (107), he is defining what they should be, but not what they are. Robert refuses to heed Margaret. He may say and even believe that "my best years [were] spent under your gentle and feminine fosterage" (230), but he has spent most of his years {85} trying to get out from under conventional restraints and to soar up to his Promethean heaven. Robert and Margaret, man and woman, disagree fundamentally, because the males in Frankenstein, like the males in Mary Shelley's life, tend to bifurcation and solipsism rather than androgyny and complementarity.

Robert displays both the willfulness of the egocentric Eros and the weakness of the Dionysiac.4 Willfulness is stressed when Mary in 1831 gives Walton the Percy-like declamation, "what can stop the . . . resolved will of man?" (231). Mary may feel a twinge of admiration at towering ambition, but she feels toward Promethean pursuits nothing like the ambivalence that Percy does when he, having associated the Arctic with the inadequacies of presocial man in Queen Mab (7:145-51), nonetheless sympathizes deeply with Ahasuerus "goaded by never-ending restlessness to rove the globe from pole to pole" (CP 818). Mary is clear: will is regressive. Robert "commence[s] this laborious voyage with the joy a child feels when he embarks in a little boat" (10). The analogy with childhood implicates not only Percy's lifelong obsession with sailing little boats but also Victor's first pursuit of the monster: "I threw the door forcibly open, as children are accustomed to do when they expect a spectre to stand in waiting for them on the other side" (56). Of course "nothing appeared" (56), because Mary wants to establish how unrelated to adult reality, how indicative of childhood fantasy, the Promethean pursuit is. Robert admits that his polar journey is not an adult decision. "This expedition has been the favourite dream of my early years. . . . [now] my thoughts were turned into the channel of their earlier bent" (11).

For both Robert and Victor, the consequence of immature willfulness is isolation. Frankenstein's inwardness impresses Walton immediately. "When he has retired into himself, he will be like a celestial spirit, that has a halo around him, within whose circle no grief or folly ventures" (23). This impregnable circle is one of the Prometheans' most damning ties with Shelley, who confesses that "the truth is, that the seclusion of my habits has confined me so much within the circle of my own thoughts" (PSL 1:582, 16 Dec. 1817). Because of sources in Plotinus and Ptolemy, circles in Shelley's verse are complicated images which allow at times for integration.5 But that those circles repeatedly indicate solipsism, the withdrawal into male egotism, is unquestionable. Like the Wandering Jew who "traced a circle on the plain" ("Ghasta" 142) or the witch in "The Wandering Jew" who "traced a circle on the floor" ("The Wandering {86} Jew" 4:275, in Fraser's Magazine 3 [1831]: 676), Percy can "retire" when problems, particularly domestic problems, threaten. His self-admonition of 1815 -- "never suffer more than one even to approach the hallowed circle" (J 20, 14 Oct. 1814) -- does not say what the context seems to warrant, that Claire must be kept away so Mary can remain his solemate. Indeed only one woman is acknowledged, but her place is not within the magic circle. "Even to approach" is all that is vouchsafed her.

Mary reads the journal entry, of course, and with her first-hand experience of Percy, she understands his tendencies to exclusion. These she highlights in Mathilda, where she undercuts the description of Percy-Woodville which some critics take as purely laudatory: "railed and fenced in by his own divinity, so that naught but love and admiration could approach him" (55; my italics).6 Mary's express-repress reflex credits the male with divinity, but then fences him in to indicate a personality restricted and restrictive, one that cannot reach out and can never be reached, only approached, like the Hebrew God. Falkner is even more explicit about male unapproachability. With "suspicion, and a fierce disdain of all who injured, which seemed to his morbid feelings all who named or approached him" (1:90), Falkner resembles both Victor, who "overwhelmed by disappointments . . . retired into himself" (23), and Shelley, whom "various ills . . . caus[ed] . . . to turn his eyes inward; inclining him rather to brood over the thoughts and emotions of his own soul than to glance abroad"(CP 30). Mary is thus anticipating Trelawny's contention that "Shelley had in perfection the power of closing his senses of hearing and seeing, and taking refuge within his own mind" (1:81).

In Frankenstein, the circle motif emphasizes the exclusion of woman as a basic response of willful males, who leave the warmth of the family circle and seek the cold of an Arctic circle which is really "the circle of my own thoughts." Besides using Percy's terms against him, Mary is appropriating to womankind his ideal of "the central warmth of love." To save the freezing Victor, the crew "placed him near the chimney of the kitchen-stove" (20). The hearth, center of the domestic circle and emblem of the wife-mother, provides the warmth needed by the isolated male, as Falkner will learn years later when his "cold, clammy hand was taken in hers [Elizabeth's] so soft and warm" (2:28). How perfectly the frozen wastes represent the fatal propensities of machismo is indicated by Freud: "Ice is in fact a symbol by antithesis for an erection: i.e. something that becomes hard in the cold instead of -- like a penis -- {87} in heat (in excitation). The two antithetical concepts of sexuality and death are frequently linked through the idea that death makes things stiff" (The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, SE 6:90n).

Isolating and immature, Promethean will involves ultimately a regressive belief in the Ubermenschen. Walton seeks a land "ruled by different laws" (10). Shelley on this question vacillates. As aristocrat he maintains that "laws were not made for men of honor" (PSL 1:80, 9 May 1811), though as democrat he insists that "we have one human heart--/ All mortal thoughts confess a common home" (Islam 3361-62). Mary does not vacillate. She repudiates the very notion of supermen ("we are all human beings, all the children of one common mother" [Valperga 2:156]). And she allows aspiring males no new worlds to conquer. Robert, true to his name ("bright in fame"), fantasizes about "a land never before imprinted by the foot of man" (10), but no such land exists in Frankenstein. The tundra has already been imprinted by Victor and the monster before Robert arrives. The hostility that Mary feels here toward male pretentiousness surfaces later in Frankenstein when she gives to one of William Frankenstein's "little wives" the name "Biron" and the initials "L.B." (62). Reducing Lord Byron to manageable size ("little") and then castrating him (Louisa) allows Mary to fix the overreacher in several senses.

As prototype of the failed androgyne, Walton proves weak as well as willful. After an early dream of travel got him nowhere, he aspired to poetry. "You are well acquainted with my failure" (11). In his present impotence -- "now I am twenty-eight, and am in reality more illiterate than many school-boys of fifteen" (14) -- Robert sounds like Shelley.

I [Robert] have no friend. (13)

I [Percy] have no friend. (PSL 1:466)

This friend would function similarly for each man. Robert wants someone "to approve or amend my plans. . . . to regulate my mind" (13, 14); Shelley admonishes Godwin, "my advisor, the moderator of my enthusiasm," to "direct me" (PSL 1:229, 16 Jan. 1812; 1:266, 8 Mar. 1812). When Robert asks Margaret "to support my spirits" (15-16), he is the conventional beset male beseeching the ministering angel, but only at one level of the psyche. Robert is ultimately not complementary with Margaret because he, like Shelley (and Frank- {88} enstein), does not finally want any woman for his other, better half. The one "whose eyes would reply to mine" is "a man. . . . You may deem me romantic, my dear sister" (13).

Robert in his weakness seeks to replace the father who has opposed, like Sir Timothy Shelley, the exploits of a Promethean son, in complaining to Margaret that communication by letter is inadequate (13), Robert is in fact rejecting as inevitably mediated his intercourse with women (particularly with one who has sided with his father) and is espousing, however unconsciously, a direct communion with men. The very motion of his journey is away from the female and toward the male, away from Margaret and on to Peter (Petersburgh) and Michael (Archangel), away from sa ville and on to the ultimately phallic pole.

In the process, Robert sounds decidedly "feminine" in his perturbations. "My hopes fluctuate, and my spirits are often depressed" (12). What Robert desires from a man is what the weaker vessel traditionally receives from her husband. "Wiser and more experienced than myself," this male would "confirm and support me" (23) as the oak does the ivy. The homosexual overtones here are emphasized when Robert calls Victor "a man . . . I should have been happy to have possessed" (29). Homosexuality is also a component of Victor's pursuit of the monster and of Shelley's intense relationships with various men.7 Percy, Victor, and Robert would all be healthier, however, if homosexual union were their real goal. It would at least establish their ability to relate deeply to someone. But for Robert, Victor, and Percy, the primary significance of the male bond is narcissistic. A man can reflect each of them better than a woman can. Male love is thus one stage closer to the self-embrace which is the true goal of Prometheans and the chief reason, as we will see soon, for Frankenstein's creation of the monster.

Walton's split into willful and weak extremes is recapitulated in Victor Frankenstein. Despite his considerable androgynous potential, Victor resembles Percy Shelley in both his willfulness (he too goes on until stopped by premature death) and in his weakness (he too cannot accept unequivocal responsibility for the ensuing chaos). Victor is, moreover, foreshadowed by Robert in a second important way. Frankenstein too undergoes role reversal. His career, like Walton's, is marked by initial movement away from a woman, Elizabeth, and on to "a true friend" (45), the "remarkably erect" Waldman (42). In his subsequent tribulations, Victor like Robert needs to be "supported" (175). He finds a "nurse" during sickness and an "angel" {89} during perils, but both figures are male, Henry and Alphonse (57, 178). Going to the north pole in unconscious quest of the male friend whom he has ever craved, Walton acts out what we come to see is a basic response of Victor Frankenstein. When the split between masculine and feminine halves of the psyche becomes dire enough to prevent a man from bonding with his complementary woman, he turns toward men and undergoes a role reversal which effeminates him. Educated by Walton, we are prepared for the more intricate process of Victor's psyche. The relationships

feminine . . . Robert Walton . . . Frankenstein

masculine . . . Frankenstein . . . Prof. Waldman

presage the later relations
feminine . . . Frankenstein . . . Wolfstein (in Shelley's . . . Walton

masculine . . . Monster . . . Ginotti St. Irvyne) . . . Monster

Victor can immediately recognize his bond with Robert ("you seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did" [24]), but he cannot, characteristically, evaluate the bond. We readers must. When Walton expresses the aspirations and uncertainty of all Prometheans -- "do I not deserve to accomplish some great purpose" (12) -- Mary Shelley is asking us to question the just deserts, the moral worth, of the modern Prometheus. We must do it because, as she has Walton admit in 1831, "there is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand" (231).

Victor and the Monster

"The relation of the Monster to Frankenstein is constantly shifting and this raises an enormous critical problem because any discussion will run the risk of falsely stabilizing the connection between the two" (Seed 333). The surest proof of this "shifting" quality is the number of different critical interpretations of the monster.8 A critic today must seek not the false stability of any totalizing explanation but the legitimate coherence of a reading consistent with itself, a reading which consciously recognizes its partial quality as it follows a single thread or threads through the whole fabric. Victor's parthenogenetic creation of the monster can be seen as, among other things, an emblem and consequence of psychic bifurcation. Will informs the procreative urge. Victor determines to surpass his father, and indeed all men, as progenitor. "No father could claim the grati- {90} tude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs" (49). As ejaculatory Prometheus, Victor "at the summit of my desires" enjoys "the most gratifying consummation. . . . pour[ing] a torrent of light into our dark world" (47, 49). Such presumption proves costly, however. The physical weakness which increases with Victor's labors -- "my person had become emaciated. . . . my voice became broken" (49, 51) -- has a decidedly sexual aspect. "My candle was nearly burnt out" (52). After the creation, "I was lifeless" (57). The consequence of will is impotence.

With his Percy-like emaciation and broken voice, Victor becomes Mary's first version of the "frail" male who recurs throughout her husband's work. How differently the Shelleys view this "blighted . . . withered" figure is evident in their attitudes toward the cause of his "blasted" condition. Percy finds indomitably heroic the blasted Ahasuerus. "Even as a giant oak . . . scathed . . . A monument of fadeless ruin," Ahasuerus stands "like the scathed pine tree's height . . . majestic even in death" (Queen Mab 7:259-61; "Fragment from the Wandering Jew" 2, 9). Shelley can, moreover, reward the blasted sufferer with new life.

. . . slowly from his [Lionel's] mien there passed
The desolation which it spoke;
. . . as when the lightning's blast
Has parched some heaven-delighting oak,
The next spring shows leaves pale and rare,
But like flowers delicate and fair . . . (Rosalind and Helen 785-90)
Though Mary admires the passive determination to resist a cruel fate, her subject in Frankenstein is the active will to godhead. She blasts sky-aspirers. After lightning reduces the Ahasuerus-like oak to a "blasted stump" (35) other forces of nature blast the parthenogenetic Promethean. "I [Victor] am a blasted tree. . . . blasted and miserable" (158, 187). There is no Shelleyan aura of indomitable manliness here, let alone any flowering delicate and fair.

The gender-role reversal implicit in Victor's statement that "the bolt has entered my soul" (158) and in the monster's threat that "the bolt will . . . ravish from you your happiness" (165) has in fact occurred already. During his emaciating labors on the creature, Frankenstein "became as timid as a love-sick girl" (51). He is not just castrated, he is made feminine. Or rather, effeminate. The truly feminine would be strengthened by the masculine presence, where- {91} as bifurcation has so thoroughly isolated female from male in Victor that effeminacy is inevitable. He is lovesick.

Parthenogenesis thus means more than creation from the self, it means creation of a self. To signal that a new creator as well as a new creature is emerging, Mary's language operates on two levels. Frankenstein in the laboratory longs for the time "when my creation should be complete" (52), later he defines the monster's awakening as the moment from which "I dated my creation" (72). Victor moves from male toward female during the creative act because the creature is absorbing his masculinity. Once alive, the creature is the expression of Victor's male self, the egocentric Eros, as Victor is now the Dionysiac. The creature as male self is now both killer and lover. The killer expresses, as we will see in chapter 4, the antisocial aspect of Eros, which "despised man and recked so little of his personal worth that it would willingly dissolve him" (D'Arcy 39). Now we must focus on the psychic role of Eros and examine the amatory, as opposed to the homicidal, aspect of the monster's relationship with Victor. "Burning with love of his own body, he prays to escape from it in order to possess it; but death brings only the ironic retribution of transformation." What Kahn says here of Shakespeare's Adonis (32) is true of Erotic narcissists throughout nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature. Frankenstein desires himself because, as we shall see in detail in chapter 5, he imagines that through self-embrace and consequent self-generation he can achieve immortality.

His love object, a creature emphatically male in gender and prowess, displays physical features conventional with the ravisher. "His hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing, his teeth of a pearly whiteness" (52). The monster's first conscious act is straight out of seduction stories. He enters the sleeper's chamber, draws aside the bed curtains, and, with a smile and murmured words, reaches out his hand. Horrified into the conventional flight, the sleeper reacts revealingly: "Sometimes my pulse beat so quickly and hardly, that I felt the palpitation of every artery; at others, I nearly sank to the ground through languor and extreme weakness" (54). By attributing to a male the "palpitation" and "languor" traditional with female passion and its aftermath, Mary Shelley is suggesting a complex reversal of roles. As the monster bodies forth Victor's male self, Frankenstein becomes the effeminate beloved who like "a love-sick girl" awaits the ravishing bolt. Victor is thus strikingly similar to Freud's Dr. Schreber, whose desire to produce a new race of beings required him, so he thought, to become female ("Psychoanalytic Notes upon {92} an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia [Dementia Paranoides]," SE 12:9-82). A particularly intriguing link with Shelley surfaces in Schreber's belief that he was destined to be the "Eternal Jew." "The Eternal Jew (in the sense described) had to be unmanned (transformed into a woman) to be able to bear children" (Chabot 15). O'Flaherty describes how in various myths the dismembered male is reassembled as female (294), and how the man transformed into woman becomes impotent (307). She even describes a male who, having bifurcated himself, attempts to make love to his female half (312). The god-aspiring aspect of self-copulation is traced by Singer from ancient Egyptian creation stories, through Christianity, and on to the Romantic period with William Blake (121-22).

My argument for role reversal in Frankenstein must address a basic objection to seeing Victor as the feminine, Dionysiac Eros. Why would Mary make him the effeminate half of the riven psyche when she could have dramatized self-projection more conventionally in terms of Pygmalion? Victor is male, so why not have him create a female? Mary patterns her narrative not upon Pygmalion but upon Percy Shelley's narratives in both prose and verse feature obsessively the self-divided male pursuing himself. While these tales of self-division and self-pursuit make obvious the male's effeminization, they leave problematic Shelley's attitude toward it. In St. Irvyne, for example, Wolfstein, like Frankenstein, leaves his woman and pursues a huge male figure, "the gigantic form of Ginotti, who stalked onwards majestically. . . . a feeling of desperation urged Wolfstein onwards; he resolved to follow Ginotti, even to the extremity of the universe" (JS 5:140). As in Frankenstein, the extremity-directed pursuit is ultimately psychic.

He [Wolfstein] sighed deeply when he reflected on the terrible connexion, dreadful though mysterious, which subsisted between himself and Ginotti. His soul sank within him at the idea of his own littleness, when a fellow mortal might be able to gain so strong, though sightless, an empire over him. (JS 5:141)
Like Frankenstein, whose recurrent professions of bafflement indicate limited self-knowledge, Wolfstein shows with the words "mysterious" and "sightless" that he cannot perceive the nature of his relationship with Ginotti. We see that Ginotti as a "power I feel within myself" (JS 5:141) is the projected male half of Wolfstein, the now dominant force controlling the once active protagonist.

{93} Just as Frankenstein learns that every move of his polar pursuit is scrutinized by the monster, Wolfstein knows that Ginotti "watches my every action" (JS 5:141). As the monster in fact orchestrates Victor's pursuit, Ginotti boasts that "every event in your life has . . . occurred under my particular machinations" (JS 5:170). In the process, Wolfstein like Frankenstein experiences emasculation ("his own littleness") and becomes effeminate:

"Oh! do with me what thou wilt, strange, inexplicable being! -- Do with me what thou wilt!" exclaimed Wolfstein, as an ecstasy of frenzied terror overpowered his astonished senses. . . . In a voice which was fascination itself, the being [Ginotti] addressed me, saying, "Wilt thou come with me? wilt thou be mine?" I felt a decided wish never to be his. . . . My neck was grasped firmly. . . . "Yes, yes, I am thine." (JS 5:166, 183-84)
The emergence of the feminine in St. Irvyne involves more than giving to the protagonist lines conventional with women. Wolfstein's relation with Ginotti is duplicated in his sister Eloise's relationship with Ginotti (in the role of "Nempere"). Eloise too finds Ginotti-Nempere "gigantic" (JS 5:174). As Wolfstein succumbed to the "empire" of Ginotti "within" him, Eloise recognizes "the resistless empire which he possessed within her" (JS 5:175). Such verbal echoes equate Eloise with the effeminate Wolfstein and thus emphasize how consistently feminine the perspective is in St. Irvyne. Shelley's inclination toward passivity is embodied in the very point of view adopted in his early fiction. Passive characters watch enthralled with or paralyzed by the oncoming aggressors whom they cannot escape: Wolfstein-Eloise with Ginotti-Nempere, and Verezzi-Julia with Zastrozzi-Matilda in Zastrozzi. However aggressive Percy is at times, his passive, feminine element is so evident that Mary knew in Frankenstein to make the passive figure Victor rather than the monster.

Shelley's empathy with the feminine in his life and art is clear enough,9 but the meaning of role reversal in St. Irvyne is not. What does self-division signify here? Granted that it reflects the terrible antagonism of Agape and Eros in Shelley: to what extent does his sympathy with Wolfstein affect his judgment upon, and our response to, male self-pursuit?

Unable to answer this question with the inchoate novel of Shelley's adolescence, we can move on six years and ask it again of a {94} poem which, though not without difficulties, defines more clearly the sexual sources of self-division and self-pursuit. Alastor is Frankenstein in miniature. Critics have often linked Victor to Shelley's self-description early in the poem ("I have made my bed/ In charnels and on coffins. . . . Like an inspired and desperate alchymist/ Staking his very life on some dark hope" [23-24, 31-32]), but much more is involved. Percy's Poet-protagonist, like Mary's scientist-protagonist, leaves behind a loving woman and confronts a self-projection. "Her voice was like the voice of his own soul" (153). Victor's revulsion at Parthenogenesis is paralleled by the Poet's trauma at autoeroticism. Confronted with the dream woman's "parted lips . . . panting bosom," the Poet "reared his shuddering limbs and quelled/ His gasping breath" (179, 182-84). The subsequent orgasm ("dissolving" [187]) is traumatic.10 "His strong heart sunk and sickened with excess/ Of love. . . . blackness veiled his dizzy eyes, and night/ Involved and swallowed up the vision" (181-82, 188-89). Can this be what Holmes calls it, sexuality "celebrated and indulged" (305)? That the "sickened with excess" clause ends with "of love" does not make love an operative, redemptive force here. Too little and too late, "love" remains an afterthought which we experience as an attempt to defuse the real drama. We have this experience again when "spread his arms to meet/ Her panting bosom" appears after we have already seen the protagonist's limbs "shuddering."

Autoeroticism in Alastor has the same consequences as parthenogenesis in Frankenstein, physically and psychologically. As Victor becomes physically "emaciated" and impotent (49, 51), the Poet's "limbs were lean. . . . his listless hand/ Hung like dead bone within its withered skin" (248, 250-51). What apparently distinguishes the two protagonists psychologically -- that the Poet seems to pursue his female half -- is in fact their paramount similarity. Awakening after his first orgasm into a new world ("The cold white light of morning. . . ./ Spread round him where he stood. Whither have fled/ The hues of heaven that canopied his bower/ Of yesternight?" [193, 196-98]), the Poet is in fact a new being. An adult caught now in the coils of passion, he like "an eagle grasped/ In folds of the green serpent, feels her breast . . ." (227-28). Especially since the Poet was earlier grasped in the arms of the dream-beloved (187), we assume that the eagle grasped by the Lamia-like serpent is feeling "her" breast, the serpent's breast. We assume, in other words, that the eagle and thus the Poet is masculine like the eagle embraced by the serpent in Shelley's source, Ovid's tale of Hermaphroditus. But the Alastor clause ends, ". . . feels her {95} breast/ Burn with the poison." Her breast is that of the eagle-Poet, who is penetrated by the now phallic beloved. The Poet, like Victor Frankenstein, has been made female by sexual experience, and sets forth in pursuit of his male half.

The outcome of the pursuit is identical in Alastor and Frankenstein. Poet, like scientist, remains locked within himself. During "daylight . . . the Poet kept mute conference/ With his soul" (223-24); afterwards "A Spirit seemed/ To stand beside him. . . . as if he and it/ Were all that was" (479-80, 487-88). The Alastor landscape indicates the Poet's narcissism no less than the Arctic wastes reflect Victor's self-obsession. "Yellow flowers/ For ever gaze on their own drooping eyes,/ Reflected in . . . a well. . . . Hither the Poet came. His eyes beheld/ Their own wan light" (406-8, 457, 469-70). Death awaits the Poet as inevitably as it does Victor. Both men eulogize home, but neither really prefers domesticity to his fatal pursuit of self.

What all this means is clearer in Alastor than in St. Irvyne. Shelley's preface to the poem includes a sentence criticizing "the Poet's self-centred seclusion [which] was avenged by the furies of an irresistible passion pursuing him to speedy ruin" (15). I say clearer because this one sentence of criticism does not make the preface or the poem clear, as the half century of controversy over Alastor attests.11 The very fact that serious readers disagree whether the critical sentence is consistent with the rest of the preface and with the poem reflects deep division within Shelley himself. Agape again wars with Eros.

In the preface, the Percy of Agape who shares Mary's belief in sympathetic communion and thus criticizes the Poet for abandoning the Arab Maid is countered by the Erotic Percy who empathizes intensely with a Poet very much like himself (emaciated, balding, vegetarian, with "lofty hopes of divine liberty" [159], questing after "knowledge and truth and virtue" [158]). The result of Shelley's self-division is that the preface is self-contradictory, its critical sentence being the one unqualifiedly negative note in an otherwise fierce paean.

The picture is not barren of instruction to actual men. The Poet's self-centred seclusion was avenged by the furies of an irresistible passion pursuing him to speedy ruin. But that Power which strikes the luminaries of the world with sudden darkness and extinction, by awakening them to too exquisite a percep- {96} tion of its influences, dooms to a slow and poisonous decay those meaner spirits that dare to abjure its dominion. Their destiny is more abject and inglorious as their delinquency is more contemptible and pernicious. They who, deluded by no generous error, instigated by no sacred thirst of doubtful knowledge, duped by no illustrious superstition, loving nothing on this earth, and cherishing no hopes beyond, yet keep aloof from sympathies with their kind, rejoicing neither in human joy nor mourning with human grief, these, and such as they, have their apportioned curse. . . . They are morally dead. They are neither friends, nor lovers, nor fathers, nor citizens of the world, nor benefactors of their country. Among those who attempt to exist without human sympathy, the pure and tender-hearted perish through the intensity and passion of their search after its communities, when the vacancy of their spirit suddenly makes itself felt. All else, selfish, blind, and torpid, are those unforeseeing multitudes who constitute, together with their own, the lasting misery and loneliness of the world. Those who love not their fellow-beings live unfruitful lives, and prepare for their old age a miserable grave.

'The good die first,
And those whose hearts are dry as summer dust,
Burn to the socket!'

(CP 15)

The critical Shelley of Agape insists sincerely upon "error" and "superstition," but the persistence of readers' confusion is understandable. The Erotic Shelley counters the critical nouns with laudatory adjectives, "generous" and "illustrious." Moreover, "generous" takes back the very criticism made of the Poet. "Generous" (genus, generis, race, kind, family) posits that bond with humankind which the Poet's self-centered seclusion sunders. Just ask the Arab Maid whether his error is generous.

The Erotic Shelley also counters the critical thrust of the preface by deflecting it. Most of the paragraph is directed against solipsists unlike the poet who are too "selfish, blind, and torpid" to ever {97} "search after . . . communities." Yet not one solipsist, let alone an "unfeeling multitude" of them, ever appears in Alastor. And communities appear only in the "alienated home" (76) of the Poet and in the cities abandoned by him (108-12). The poem thus denies us any experience of the two factors which justify the preface's praise for the protagonist. Since we do not experience his superiority to the multitudinous solipsists, we find inordinate the preface's extensive castigation of them. And where in the poem does the Poet actually seek after communities?

What seems slightly hysterical in the preface -- Shelley's fierce castigation of the unfeeling multitude and his ardent espousal of the deep-feeling Poet -- enters Alastor itself after the protagonist dies. Praise for him is rapturous ("ah! Thou hast fled!/ The brave, the gentle, and the beautiful,/ The child of grace and genius" [688-90]) and contempt for the multitude is intense ("many worms/ And beasts and men live on" [691-92]). Neither emotion, however, seems warranted by our experience of a poem where the protagonist is at best flawed and the world is almost entirely absent.

Frankenstein too is about an egotist who escapes into solitude (his laboratory) in order to return to the community (as benefactor). He dies, as in Alastor, without achieving his goal, because both tales portray "self-centred seclusion . . . avenged by the furies of an irresistable passion." The difference between the tales is that Mary's single-minded response to male self-division provides her novel with a unity of moral and aesthetic effect which is denied to Percy's self-divided poem. Mary forgoes the convenience of castigating the multitude and portrays movingly the community absent from Alastor. Unlike the Percy who loves his protagonist's self-love, Mary hates the self-absorption of men who abandon adoring women. Frankenstein is Alastor rewritten by the Arab Maid.

The anger felt by Mary Shelley as Arab Maid explains why she insists upon making Frankenstein's psychic projection male, not female. Destruction is both the consequence of such projection and the function of the projected self. To make this self female would be to subscribe to a long tradition which sees woman as lethal and which represents this lethality in the figure of the femme fatale. Though Mary Shelley recognizes destructive capacities in herself and in other women (as we shall see in chapter 6), she insists that the principal source of domestic and social ruin is male. Men reject complementarity for self-projection, domesticity for self-indulgence, marriage for self-union. The monster is masculine because chaos is.

{98} Alastor helps Mary see not only the troubled psyche of Percy Shelley but also his inability to face those troubles squarely. He can present the Poet as failed androgyne -- a male too restless to settle down yet too weak to quest successfully -- but he cannot resist an overbalancing sense of his self-portrait's superiority. He can reveal the psyche bifurcated, with the feminine preponderant, but he will not indict self-pursuit decisively. Such self-deception is highlighted in Frankenstein by an allusion first noted by Leonard Wolf (25). Victor describes the monster as "one who fled from me" (21).

They flee from me, that sometime did me seek,
With naked foot stalking in my chamber.
Sir Thomas Wyatt's great love poem is parodied by Victor's situation. The monster first seeks Frankenstein in his bedchamber (presumably on naked feet, since where would the creature have gotten shoes large enough?), and then flees from his bedchamber on the wedding night. Genders are ludicrously reversed as the male monster replaces Wyatt's beloveds. Parody emphasizes the amatory nature of Victor's pursuit of the male, even as it provides a standard for criticizing his inversion of conventional roles.

Mary's parody reflects Frankenstein's own grotesque parody of complementarity. Instead of uniting with Elizabeth, Victor substitutes for her. He projects his male element outward in the monster, allows the female to become dominant in himself, and spends the rest of the novel seeking to make love to his self. What Victor has done, in effect, is to create not an androgyne but a hermaphrodite. "The hermaphrodite is an earthly and physical parody of that [androgynous] state" [Hoeveler 81]. Traditionally the hermaphrodite unites in one body the genitals of the two genders, which is not the case with Victor's monster. But Victor's hermaphrodite is not the monster: it is the monster and himself as unnatural male-female. The difference between this "hermaphrodite" and a traditional one, the separation of masculine and feminine into two figures, captures better than any single figure the true essence of hermaphroditism. "In the hermaphrodite the sexual separation is exaggerated . . . two separated parts, instead of their union, their fusion, in the androgyne."12 Hoeveler shows that for Blake "the hermaphroditic self has existed [only] since the fall, since the separation of male and female" [84]. As a blasphemous parody of the Incarnation (not the divine descending to redeem the flesh, but flesh aspiring to divinity) "the hermaphrodite . . . symbolizes the attempts by the anti-christ {99} figures of Satan, Rahab, and Tirzah to form a substitute androgyne" (Hoeveler 98).

Whether or not Mary Shelley comprehended Blake, she could find blasphemous parody in a more immediate source, Paradise Lost. Satan couples with Sin to produce Death. Particularly since Sin is a self-projection of Satan, his self-congress constitutes in effect both Victor's dream of immortality and Milton's parody of hermaphroditism as narcissistic self-union. The Satan-Sin coupling is Eros for Milton, and is contrasted by him with what follows in Paradise Lost -- the Agape of the Son's love for the Father and marriage to the Church. As reader of Milton and as orthodox Christian, Mary Shelley believes that the only way for flesh to reunite with spirit is for parents to bring forth immortal souls in their children. Victor has this opportunity with Elizabeth, but instead pursues the satanic alternative of desiring his monster-self. Hermaphroditism is the true expression of Eros, as adrogyny is of Agape.

Complementarity or Self-Sufficiency

The hermaphrodite is important for our understanding of the psyche in Frankenstein because it implicates Percy's alternative to Mary's ideals of androgyny and complementarity. Shelley, as we have seen, rejects complementarity. The alternative which he proposes at his best is a feminist equality which partakes of Agape because it assures the otherness of the beloved. "The doctrine of sympathy implied the dissolution of sex roles . . . [and thus provided] a psychological alternative to the traditional polarization of the sexes into separate spheres and complementary identities. . . . love goes wrong only when couples are joined as opposites" (Brown 3, 221). We have seen, however, that Eros leads Shelley repeatedly to deny woman's equality by occluding her otherness. Particularly with the ego-centric Eros in ascendancy, Shelley sees the beloved as projection -- which makes the male both lover and beloved, and thus self-sufficient.

Self-sufficient is just what the hermaphrodite aspires to be. "Recogniz[ing] that it was the concept of an all-sufficient self that was the most serious threat to reintegration," Blake shows his radical antagonism to institutional Christianity by choosing the Virgin Mary as emblem for the "type of hermaphrodite who claims sexual self-sufficiency" (Hoeveler 85, 90-91). Sexual self-sufficiency is also what the Erotic Shelley aspires to. It prompts his railings against gender distinctions ("I almost wish that Southey had not made the glendoveer a male -- these detestable distinctions will surely be {100} abolished in a future state of being" [PSL 1:195, 26 Nov. 1811]). And it prompts him to create his own emblem of self-sufficiency, the "sexless bee" of The Witch of Atlas. Is this bee a hermaphrodite in Blake's pejorative sense of the term, or a version of the true asexuality which Blake espoused? Is Shelley's Witch as sexless bee distinct from the hermaphrodite which she creates, or is the hermaphrodite a projection of herself? And in either case, how does Shelley mean us to react to the hermaphrodite? Such questions about The Witch have vexed scholars for decades. Readers of Frankenstein may more profitably focus on Mary's response to the sexless bee.

Her distaste for The Witch has always seemed to me inordinate. "This poem is peculiarly characteristic of his [Percy's] tastes . . . discarding human interest and passion, to revel in the fantastic ideas that his imagination suggested" (CP 388). I now believe that what Mary actually hates is the ideal of self-sufficiency and the whole notion of self-projection which the sexless bee emblemizes. She senses in The Witch of Atlas (1820) another of Percy's responses to Frankenstein. Unlike the Shelley figure Victor Frankenstein, who creates a monstrous hermaphrodite out of fire and clay, Percy's benign Witch creates a harmless hermaphrodite out of "fire and snow" (321). The Witch asserts Shelley's purity and feminine creativity in the face of Mary's indictment of him as Promethean monster-botcher. Mary then counterattacks. Her later fiction targets self-projection, self-sufficiency, and the bee emblem in ways which illuminate retrospectively her initial indictment of hermaphroditism in Frankenstein.

Where Mary seems closest to characterizing woman as a projection of the male is where her divergence from Percy is most emphatic.

Richard [Perkin Warbeck] had found in Lady Katherine a magic mirror, which gave him back himself arrayed with a thousand alien virtues. (Perkin Warbeck 2:236)
The key here is "alien." Lady Katherine is very different from Perkin: as a fiery Scot raised at her baronial father's court, she is anything but a mere reflection or projection of the gentle Perkin raised in Flemish poverty. Katherine in most conventional fashion can achieve the status of good wife only by being other, by remaining integral, because only then can she contribute the thousand virtues which are "alien" to her man and native to herself.

The complementary oneness which Perkin achieves with Ka- {101} therine is denied to Falkner after his egotism causes Alithea's death and his subsequent "agony . . . thenceforth she was not to be the half of his existence, as he had hoped" (2:234). Wild Falkner lacks that better half which derives its force precisely from not being a self-projection, but from being located far enough outside the man to guide him morally. "The better part of yourself will, when she speaks, appear to leap out, as if, for the first time, it found its other half" (2:211). Mary can, like Percy, imagine a better self within the flawed male, but she relates that self to the beloved very differently. For Percy, the beloved is excellent in proportion as she is not other. For Mary, the individual's better half is still only half; it needs the better half of another. Only together are two better halves good enough.

However much Mary in the fiercest throes of the Shelley legend may eulogize her marriage, she knows in her heart that Percy never found her complementary. He, like his look-alike Adrian, "seemed destined not to find the half of himself, which was to complete his happiness" (The Last Man 65). Why? As Mary sees it, Percy never accepted her ideal of complementarity. Medwin concurs in effect when he describes Shelley in terms of the antitype ideal: "he thirsted after his likeness -- and he found it not" (139). Adrian, who like Shelley drowns without finding his better half, speaks for Percy and Victor and all too many men, in Mary's view -- "I have consorted long with grief, entered the gloomy labyrinth of madness, and emerged, but half alive" (54). When Mary Godwin eloped with young Percy Shelley, she had in mind a different type of "consort." Her growing recognition of the Promethean as a man only "half alive" may be what prompts her to have Frankenstein admit in 1831, "we are unfashioned creatures, but half made up" (232).

Mary is thus striking back at a pretense to self-sufficiency which characterizes males throughout the Romantic period. Emerson contends that "a highly endowed man with good intellect and good conscience is a Man-woman and does not so much need the complement of woman to his being as another" (Journals, June 14, 1842). This Shelleyan view is opposed by Melville -- "self-reciprocally efficient hermaphrodites being but a fable" (Pierre 259). Shelley delights in his fable of the "sexless bee" because his hermaphrodite means an escape from the impossible tensions of the corporeal, a benign castration. Mary hates the bee because she sees complementarity as the ultimate androgyny, the complete intercourse. Again using Percy against himself, Mary takes up the bee emblem and reverses its significance. "Bee-like" are the newly wedded Ethel and {102} Villiers in Lodore who "sipped the honey of life, and, never cloyed, fed perpetually on sweets" (2:188). Instead of the ultimately neutering dream of sexless bee, Mary very conventionally defines emotional and physical intercourse as the proper mode for the Promethean. "He [Castruccio] forgot ambition, and the dreams of princely magnificence. . . . and seemed to bury himself, as a bee in he fragrant circle of a rose, in the softest and most humane emotions" (Valperga 1:121).


1. I use James Rieger's edition of Frankenstein so that I can draw upon all three versions of the novel: the 1818 original, the corrections made by Mary Shelley in the Thomas copy of Frankenstein in 1823, and her extensive rewriting for the Colburn and Bentley edition of 1831. These various revisions present no consistent pattern that I can discover. (For recent discussions of textual variants see Rieger [F xliv], Ketterer, and Poovey.) Some changes add grist to my mill, others show Mary making less in 1831 of what I make much of in the 1818 text. She both plays up and tones down radical criticisms, and sometimes she seems to have forgotten or to have still not recognized the force of an image or action. Rather than insisting upon what is manifestly untrue -- that any one version of Frankenstein is the definitive edition -- I will choose for the text of a particular scene the version which seems to me to contribute most to the overall coherence of the novel, recognizing full well how self-serving this could become. The 1818 edition is cited most frequently, largely because, I suppose, it reflects most directly the subversive forces which generated the project and which were dampened in Mary Shelley's later, more conservative years.

2. See Joseph Campbell (283), Eliade (115), O'Flaherty (310), and Singer (7,51).

3. Knoepflmacher has noted the link of "Saville" and "civil"(107); Tropp sees Margaret as Mary Shelley's spokesperson and mentions their sharing the initials MS (15), but he does not discuss their common middle initial or the full presence and significance of Margaret in the opening frame.

4. In recent years critics studying Robert Walton have moved considerably beyond Spark's notion that he is "introduced merely for the purpose of recounting Frankenstein's story" (132). Hirsch emphasizes that Walton helps make the frame credible: Victor seems more believable because Robert is on the same quest. Also, Walton's growing belief helps to foster ours, while his diminished stature highlights Victor's superiority (140). Swingle agrees that Walton "functions in the novel to dissolve the particularity of Frankenstein's quest" (63). Wilfred Cude maintains, more problematically, that Walton "is objective," and gives us "an impartial view of Victor and his monster"("Mary Shelley's Modern Prometheus: A Study in the Ethics of Scientific Creativity," Dalhousie Review 52 [1972]: 217). A second useful line on Walton is taken by critics who define his similarities to Victor. Bloom sees that Walton is a failed Promethean quester, like Victor (124, 128); Strevick, that Walton is like Frankenstein a dreamer who can't make his dreams coherent (230); Goldberg, that both men consider no price too high if they can achieve knowledge of the unknown (29); Levine, that both are lonely men, isolated by ambition and willing to endanger others (a 19); Kaplan and Kloss, that both men undertake adventures interdicted by their fathers, and both have deep ties to their sisters (134-35). The most extensive recent treatments of Walton are Hogle's and Poovey's.

5. See James O. Allsup, The Magic Circle (Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat, 1976); and Notopoulos. Shelley uses circles as an emblem of both inclusion and exclusion in "The Coliseum" (JS 6:303-4).

6. Scott (184). Nitchie believes that "the Shelley here portrayed in the person of Woodville is virtually perfect" (58), whereas Dunn sees Woodville as "ineffectual, lacking the passion and dynamism that might have stormed Mathilda's, and Mary's, dream" (202). Small sees "in Mathilda's complaints of the all-too perfect Woodville Mary's reproach to the unalterable benevolence of the Shelleyan exterior and lack of real feeling"(184).

7. Shelley's early response to the "inexpressibly attractive" schoolboy ("I remember in my simplicity writing to my mother a long account of his admirable qualities and my own devoted attachment. I suppose she thought me out of my wits" [Hogg 1:24]), his recurrent dream of this lad years later (JS 7:66L his ties to Hogg ("if I were free I were yours. . . . Oh, how I have loved you" [PSL 1:203, 10 Dec. 1811]), his obsession with male statues ("these sweet and gentle figures of adolescent youth in which the Greeks delighted" [JS 6:328]), and his refusal to admit that the Greeks actually practiced pederasty -- these and much more material have inevitably sparked speculation about homosexuality. See Carpenter, Chesser, Merle, and Read. Brown in his discussion of Shelley's admiration of Greek sculpture says that "the pervasiveness of this response is testimony to the intensity with which the poet was temperamentally attracted to the Greek pederastic ideal and explains why he was so ready to believe that the Greek male in fact surpassed the female in beauty" (23).

8. Among various explanations of Victor and the monster as "doubles" or components of a single psyche -- Bloom, Cantor, Hirsch, Hogle, Kaplan and Kloss, Ketterer, Kiely, Levine (b), Massey, Masao Miyoshi (The Divided Self [New York: New York University Press, 1969], 79-89), Seed, Small, Spark, and Tropp -- the one closest to mine is Knoepflmacher's. "The Monster now assumes Victor's phallic aggression; and Victor becomes as tremulous and 'timid as a love-sick girl'" (106). Excellent as this insight is, the "now" indicates the difference between Knoepflmacher's sense of the novel and mine. "Now . . . and" makes the two events in the sentence seem causal, or at least sequential, when in fact the second event precedes the first by nearly one hundred pages. Victor becomes the love-sick girl on page 54, whereas the aggression preferred to by Knoepflmacher occurs on page 149. In my view of causal sequence, Mary Shelley has Victor become effeminate when the monster awakens, because the creature embodies the creator's phallic drives. Victor, of course, does not intend to be rendered effeminate. He (at a deep level of the unconscious) expects to allow full expression to the feminine side of himself which he envisions joining with the projected masculine side. Effeminacy is Mary's work, her insistence that the halves of the psyche will polarize unless each finds complementarity in the two halves of an other.

Seeing the monster as Victor's male, passional side runs counter to two long-standing critical positions: that the creature is an intellectual force, and that he is feminine. Spark follows Church in viewing the "Monster firstly as representing reason in isolation. . . . a symbol of Mary's over-strained intellectual conscience" (137). That the monster has an intellectual side is as incontestable as that he has a feminine side; at issue is his specific function in relation to Victor. To equate the monster with intellect leaves Spark in the awkward position of having to account for such apparently passionate acts as his erotic killing of Elizabeth on the bridal bed and his pathological desire for revenge against Victor. "What passes for emotion . . . are really intellectual passions arrived at through rational channels" (149). The monster knows better. "I was the slave, not the master of an impulse, which I detested, yet could not disobey. . . . an insatiable passion" (218). How can such a slave of passion represent intellect when Victor as the slave of this "slave" says, "through the whole period during which I was the slave of my creature, I allowed myself to be governed by the impulses of the moment" (151)? Seeing the creature as animal passion fits not only with the text but also with tradition, for, as Small notes, what Prometheus botched in his creation of the male was precisely his "animal" side (48-49).

Any claims for the monster as male must acknowledge the ways in which he is female, as an expression of Mary Shelley's inner life and as a potential androgyne with strong feminine traits. Critics who stress his feminine side are Gilbert and Gubar, Knoepflmacher, and Poovey. The unquestionable maleness of the creature physically is what allows him to express the male extreme of Victor's unconscious. The maleness of the creature is further confirmed by various elements of plot and characterization. Once Robert Walton, for example, has engaged in a Shelley-like quest for a male in the opening frame, Victor's pursuit of the monster continues that quest -- unconsciously before Elizabeth's death, purposively (though without real self-knowledge) afterwards. Moreover, if Victor intuitively feels himself feminine, this answers the Kaplan-Kloss question of why he does not create the monstress and thus get rid of the monster. Victor wants not to be rid of him, but to forestall any female who might preempt Victor himself with the creature. Finally, the most sustained case for the monster's femininity is Hirsch's argument that the creature is suffering from penis envy. Although the proud possessor of a penis could, I feel, experience all the privations which Hirsch attributes to the monster, Hirsch is properly directing attention to one of the most basic issues of Frankenstein, incompleteness.

9. Shelley's inclination to the feminine is indicated in various ways in his art. As Moore notes, Shelley projects himself (though always with reservations) into that sympathetic father-killer, Beatrice Cenci (28), and into Rosalind, who is suspected unjustly of adultery and atheism in Rosalind and Helen (36-37). See also Carpenter (63). In Epipsychidion, Shelley's description of his interaction with the prostitute (if this is indeed who she is) makes him female, pierced and penetrated. "Flame/ Out of her looks into my vitals came . . . A killing air . . . pierced like honey-dew/ Into the core of my green heart" (259-60, 262-63). Soon the phallic one is Emily: "All other sounds were penetrated/ By the small, still, sweet spirit of that sound [her respiration]" (330-31). Shelley again is female: "I stood, and felt the dawn of my long night/ Was penetrating me with living light" (341-42).

10. Among the few critics who recognize the orgasmic quality of the moment are John C. Bean ("The Poet Borne Darkly: The Dream-Voyage Allegory in Shelley's Alastor," KSJ 23 [1974]: 60-76); and Brown (58).

11. For stages of the Alastor debate see Olwen Ward Campbell (187-96); Raymond A. Havens, "Shelley's Alastor," PMLA 45 (1930): 1098-1115; Marion Clyde Wier, "Shelley's 'Alastor' Again," PMLA 46 (1931): 947-50, and Havens' reply (950-51); Paul Mueschke and Earle Leslie Griggs, "Wordsworth as the Prototype of the Poet in Shelley's Alastor," PMLA 49 (1934): 229-45; Marcel Kessel, Paul Mueschke and Earle Leslie Griggs, "'The Poet in Shelley's Alastor: A Criticism and a Reply," PMLA 51 (1936): 302-12; Arthur E. Du Bois, "Alastor: The Spirit of Solitude," JEGP 35(1936): 530-45; Evan K. Gibson, "'Alastor': A Reinterpretation," PMLA 62 (1947): 1022-45; Frederick L. Jones, "The Vision Theme in Shelley's Alastor and Related Works," SP 44 (1947): 108-25; Albert Gerard, "Alastor, or the Spirit of Solipsism," PQ 33 (1954): 164-77; Joseph Raben, "Coleridge as the Prototype of the Poet in Shelley's Alastor," RES 17 (1966): 278-92; Timothy Webb, "Coleridge and Shelley's Alastor: A Reply," RES 18 (1967): 402-11); W. H. Hildebrand, "Shelley's Early Vision Poems," SIR 8 (1969): 198-215; Luther L. Scales, Jr., "The Poet as Miltonic Adam in Alastor," KSJ 21-22 (1972-73): 126-44; Lloyd Abbey, "Shelley's Bridge to Maturity: From 'Alastor' to 'Mont Blanc,'" Mosaic 10 (1977): 69-84; Lisa M. Steinman, "Shelley's Skepticism: Allegory in 'Alastor,'" ELH 45 (1978): 255-69.

12. Hoeveler (82) quotes Franz von Baader from La Notion D'Androgynie by des Fontaines (Paris: Depot General, Le François, 1938), 139.