Perhaps the most interesting event in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is the perverse dream that Victor Frankenstein experiences after he brings the creature to life. Examination of the dream through Freudian theories on sexual motivation and the Oedipal Complex provide insight to the actions and character of Mary Shelley's protagonist. Further examination also reveals the reason for Victor's actions and character and how each affects his relationship with those closest to him.
Victor's retelling of the dream in Frankenstein states:
I though I saw Elizabeth
In the bloom of health,
Walking in the streets of Ingolstadt.
Delighted and surprised I embraced her,
But as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips,
They became livid with the hue of death;
Her features appeared to change and I thought I held the dead corpse
Of my dead mother in my arms;
A shroud enveloped her form,
And I saw grave worms crawling in the folds of flannel.
In many of Freud's work on dreams, he often clarifies the fact that sexual motivation plays a major part. Part of his theory on sexually motivated dreams is the existence of genitalia and sexual intercourse heavily symbolized. One of the symbols for the phallus, or penis, is the snake. This symbol is clearly represented in the form of the grave worms that are mentioned in Victor's dream. Furthermore, the folds of flannel, which the grave worms crawl into represent the vagina. Together the whole occurrence of the "grave worms crawling in the folds of flannel" symbolizes sexual intercourse.
Since these symbols exist in Victor's dream, it is accurate to state that sexual feelings are the cause for the dream. The presence of Victor's love interest and his mother also solidify the notion that sexual feelings exist. This notion holds true because, to our knowledge, nobody else in the story is presented as an object of Victor's affection. Victor's sexual desire for Elizabeth is displayed through the way in which he embraces and kisses her. Any doubt to the existence of this sexual desire can be explained through examination of Victor's sheltered childhood. His only interaction with females was between Elizabeth and his mother Caroline. When Victor first meets Elizabeth his mother presents her as ."..a pretty present for my Victor." Victor also states at one point that Elizabeth is "the beautiful and adored companion of all my occupations and my pleasures." It is safe to derive from these two quotations that Elizabeth was intended to be Victor's object of affection during childhood and adulthood. It is also important to note that Elizabeth was "given to him" which can also be synonymous with the term "giving one's self." This euphemism is a term coined to represent the action of engaging in sexual acts with a person.
A closer look at the dream reveals that Victor's lust for Elizabeth was not confined to...