Abstract

Introduction

There are really two main "dreams" in Mary Shelley's original Frankenstein novel: Victor Frankenstein's daydream about the grand future effects of his creating artifical life and the nightmare into which he falls after he recoils from his finished creature in revulsion and exhaustion. This second dream, quite complex, has become the subject of many interpretations, particularly in the twentieth century. Even so, I raise a number of questions that these previous readings have not answered and show how the rest of the essays in this collection respond to those in new and striking ways. In recounting the most influential existing interpretions, I also show how many profound cultural and psychological issues are raised by both of Victor's dreams, especially his nightmare about embracing his dead mother. As a result, the newer interpretations offered here address some major unresolved quandaries in the history of Western culture. Mainly through the work of my fellow contributor's, then, we collectively offer new insights about long-standing issues in the West: the relationship between sentimentality and sadism, the role and nature of parody in human creativity, the need for several radical repressions for the enforcement of a patriarchal society, and the parallels between dream-language and the movement between images in modern motion pictures. Because of the questions raised by these readings, as well as in Frankenstein's dream, these essays claim, we are thrown back on and must therefore confront the most basic ways in which Western self-representation has occured over the last several centuries.