The note of helplessness in the monster’s voice affirms his defilement, for such a fate is impersonal and descends without regard for responsibility. 15 The monster’s impurity is not the monster’s fault. It derives from an external, not an internal, causality. We ought to inquire, then, into the causes of so complete and arbitrary a defilement. Is the monster’s misery wholly the result of its creator’s egoistic or masculine presumptions? I think evidence to the contrary appears in a startling remark the monster makes regarding his spurned existence. Defending his essential innocence, he bitterly and mockingly contrasts his being with the purer sort of his persecutors: “Nay, these are virtuous and immaculate beings! I, the miserable and abandoned, am an abortion to be spurned at, kicked, and trampled on” (219). 16 The important point here is not merely that the monster equates spotlessness with virtue, but that he describes himself as an “abortion,” a term that places the problem of defilement in a specifically biological — and sexual — context. Again we find Shelley reducing suffering to the body, but this time to emphasize its symbolic origin. The monster’s is a prenatal existence, an “imperfect animation” (228) suspended between conception and delivery. Shelley locates the objective cause of his suffering in the domain of sexuality — specifically female sexuality — which appears, if the monster’s complaint is credible, www.datingranking.net/nl/charmdate-overzicht/ to be the paradigm of defilement.
Ricoeur speculates darkly into the archaic relation ranging from defilement and you will sex: “At the restrict, the child was considered to be born impure, contaminated right from the start of the adult vegetables, of the impurity of the maternal genital region, and by the extra impurity away from childbearing” (29). From the monster’s defilement as well as unpleasant consequences, Shelley talks about the human curse out of maculate conception. Being born defiles becoming; here is the archaic information one personal norms never fit.
One might object at this point that the monster’s defilement results, not from his mere creation (he was never really “born”), but from his asexual creation by a solitary male who usurps a woman’s generative powers. The monster is an ugly botch because he incarnates a male fantasy of creative autonomy. And indeed, at a literal level this reading is hard to contest. But there is a kind of sexual sub-symbolism that betrays Shelley’s deep allegiance to the body, even in the midst of a fantastic tale of asexual creation. Ponder for instance the bodily implications of the site of the monster’s conception. Frankenstein’s “workshop of filthy creation” is a “solitary chamber situated . . . at the top of the house, and separated from all the apartments by a gallery and a staircase” (50). A psychoanalytic reading of this description might discover here a symbolism of the female womb, displaced upward as in a dream, accessible only through clandestine physical exertion. If Frankenstein’s workshop is a womb-room, then his creative undertaking might not be so exclusively masculine as it first appears. Shelley subtly qualifies the apparent asexuality of Victor’s creative enterprise with a pervasive symbolism of sexual defilement that quietly asserts the inescapability of bodily imperatives. “A resistless and almost frantic impulse” (49) urges him on; his exertions build up to “the most gratifying consummation” (47). Frankenstein in his dirty workshop symbolizes the sexual act in all its ambiguity, at once gratifying and necessary for creating life, and yet the origin too of defilement. Says Frankenstein, “often did my human nature turn with loathing from my occupation, . . . still urged on by an eagerness which perpetually increased” (50). The sexual sub-symbolism of Frankenstein’s activity shows Shelley wrestling with the archaic paradox of impure birth.