[Kyle W. Casey]

In Julia Kristeva's "Psychoanalysis and the Polis," it is suggested, in slight contrast to the arguments of Jacques Lacan, that the act the composition of literature is in itself a kind of interpretation of an unknowable, arguably nonexistent, objective reality. Thus She claims that, "style is the mark of interpretation in literature" (1083). In other words, the manner in which the narrator of a text uses language to capture the fictional reality of the given work serves as the portal to its interpretation.

This argument stems from the belief that language in itself is an extension of the male phallus, an imposed order, attempting to capture and communicate the unknowable, objective reality and control it. Syntax underlies the structure of language and the extension of the phallus, and thus the breakdown of syntax in language becomes a place where the phallus is usurped, making room for a type of expression free of dominance, an expression more akin to reality. By bypassing the system of signifier and signified, a more emotive form of communication forms. She suggests that such breakdowns in syntactical structures bring the message of an utterance towards the center of the reader's understanding, rather than the results of the limited communication of phallo-centric language. She writes, "the ejection {of words and syntactic structures} emphasizes the informative kernel at the expense of the syntactic structure and makes the logic of the message" (1083). Thus, the language of children, impassioned moments, and everyday conversation, with their broken syntax, communicate sentiments more akin to the amorphous reality of our perceptions.

Thus, when Kristeva's critical outlook is applied to Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, a striking connection between the themes of the text and the language of the character Victor Frankenstein reveals itself. Victor, in his long and flawless recount of his experience with the monster, mimics his internal desire for power and control in his very speech and syntax. Victor, referring to the power to animate lifeless matter, states, "When I found so astonishing a power placed in within my hands, I hesitated a long time concerning the manner in which I should employ it." He, with the ambition and determination of the ordering phallus, finds the power to create life. The major motivation for Victor Frankenstein is power and control over nature. This controlling motivation is precisely what Kristeva refers to in her work. Victor, like language, attempts to master the secrets of nature, and in effect attempts to control it.

Fittingly, Victor's creation strays far from the glories of the human form. He says of the monster, "I gazed at him while unfinished; he was ugly then, but when those muscles and joints were rendered capable of motion it became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived." This warped image of nature's creation of humankind mimics the warping of reality created in language suggested by Kristeva. Like language's interpretation of nature, like an author's attempt to capture objective reality with words, Victor projects his image human kind into a method of creation. And again, like language, Frankenstein's monster held more truth in its conception than in its reality. When Victor imagines the race he creates, the race that "would bless me as its creator and source;" a race of "many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me," the imagined image proves to be far different than the reality. Thus, the monster encapsulates Kristeva's perception of language itself -a distorted representation of the imagined, wholly inadequate as an expression of truth and a vehicle towards mimesis.

Victor Frankenstein's use of language in the relaying of his horrific tale behaves in a similar manner as his monstrous creation. He employs the confines of syntax and language in the same manner he uses his science to create the monster, yet the tale itself does not encapsulate fully the events that transpire. Kristeva's take on language and its limitations would suggest that Victor's speech strays from the objective reality of the events he attempts to record. If his tale was told in a manner that employed more natural, emotive speech, speech that took advantage of syntactic breakdowns and avoided, at least more so, the imposed order of phallic language, then the reality of his tale (the message of his tale as Kristeva would put it) would be more fully captured. But, fittingly he does not. His use of the phallus of language mirrors his view on the world it that he believes that he posses the ability to impose order on an unknowable objective reality.

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