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Loving the Villain: A literary critique of Frankenstein

A little excerpt from my literary critique of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, comparing it to the myth of Prometheus. One of my favorite stories, and more notably, villains: Frankenstein’s Creature.

Frankenstein, viewed through an archetypal psychological lens, is a tale of the Self when the Shadow within the psyche goes unintegrated, unitiated.

The darkness which clings to every personality is the door into the unconscious and the gateway of dreams, from which those two twilight figures, the shadow and the anima, step into our nightly visions or, remaining invisible, take possession of our ego-consciousness. -CG Jung

For me, the Creature personifies all the neglected shadows within. I have been a ruthless Victor to my shadows. I have cried for the creature, deeply, knowing there are neglected aspects of me that are deserted like he. These aspects of our inner life are what ultimately need the most compassion. If they are dismissed, they can and will be the demise of our joy, and we may go into the dark night of the soul, laden with regret. At one point, these aspects were innocent and well intentioned, only desiring affection and to be of service… but as my main man Joseph Campbell says…  

If the hero, instead of submitting to all of the initiatory tests, has, like Prometheus, simply darted to his goal (by violence, quick device, or luck) and plucked the boon for the world that he intended, then the powers that he has unbalanced may react so sharply that he will be blasted from within and without– crucified, like Prometheus, on the rock of his own violated unconscious.

The Shadow, through the power of myth and dream, is given a new voice. And through the generations of this story read, the rooted creature may have been given its greatest desire too late: compassion. A tragic lesson that liberation can only be named by the creator of the experience. Like the familiar tale of Jonah and the whale, Victor goes into the night of his death swallowed by his monstrous creation. Those shadow aspects, left to their painful devices, run rampant, brewing tempests of rage to get our attention. Killing the Mother within us, the best friend, the innocents, the beautiful lover and ultimately, the Self. Always with us, this poor dark daemon…

Shunned too long in the lightless depths of neglect, there is madness afoot, like the grinning creature whose insides churn of desperation and revenge. The creature/villain/shadow is there in all of us, in all of the moments we shoved our guilt down its throat, hushing it while tears filled its cloudy eyes.

As it relates to dreams

The shadow within emerges in the twilight of our dreams. It can appear to us in the form of the Night Mare figures: the predator, the siren, the captor, the succubus, the beast…

We can fall prey to the madness or depression if we allow the shadow to pursue us endlessly by not acknowledging it’s need. It will possess us, and cause us to suppress our lifeforce, and sometimes completely siphen our dream connection.

Instead of ignoring, I encourage myself and others to stay in the room. Sometimes I even invite it in as a herald of essential intel from the inner worlds. No sugar coating, no spiritual bypass. We do the work because it’s one of the most heroic, important things we can do for ourselves and others.

Practical magic permeates when we are willing to be initiated by the Shadow.

There is a special quality of stillness in a person who encounters the shadow wholeheartedly. Your body may relax in their company because it understands, in the subtle communications of their presence, that nothing is excluded in themselves, therefore nothing in you can be rejected. Such a person, who has given up guarding against the shadow, who has come to wear their scars with dignity, no longer squirms from discomfort or bristles at suffering. They no longer brace in avoidance of conflict. They carry a deep willingness to dance with the inconstancy of life. They’ve given up distancing as a strategy, and made vulnerability their ally. Toko-Pa Turner

So if you’re going to dream, and you will, ya might as well take it on as a spiritual practice; I see no more nobler use for it. 


Art by Andrew Jones, “Searching for beauty in the darkest places”

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I’m a dreamling, writer and activist for lucidity. I mentor cultivation of creativity, healing and transformation through the power of lucid dreaming.