Peter Brooks' essay "What Is a Monster" tackles many complex ideas within Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and the main concept that is the title of the essay itself. What is the definition of a monster, or to be monstrous? Is a monster the classic representation we know, green skin, neck bolts, grunting and groaning? A cartoon wishing to deliver sugary cereal? or someone we dislike so greatly their qualities invade our language and affect our interpretation of their image and physical being? Brooks' essay approaches this question by using Shelley's narrative structure to examine how language, not nature, is mainly accountable for creating the idea of the monstrous body.
Brooks begins his argument by analyzing the relationships of the novel
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Actual unconscious desire that the Monster seeks is not apparent to him, and that lack of meaning tied to one's desire is passed on through his plea to his creator, Victor Frankenstein. Subsequently this "lack" of meaning touches Victor's tale to Walton, and finally the reader as a surrogate receiving Walton's letters to his absent sister. The Monster becomes a symbol (and signifier) of the detachment from unconscious desire (the signified) created by language and relationships, a "monster" in the truest sense of the form, signifying deficiency and the unnatural, an object beyond comprehension and meaning itself. By extending beyond meaning, the Monster no longer is part of an interlocutionary relationship, but a symbol to be discussed, viewed, and compared.
Brooks' argument takes a firm look at the text and how it uses language to position the internal mechanics of desire. Since what we desire is no longer part of our vocabulary in language, we can only identify it by determining what it is we lack, or what is different. Looking at the intersubjective relations of minds, and how communication mirrors the contextual signification of Lacan's "signifying chain" of language, Brooks effectively shows how language operates upon the mind, and can create an image of ourselves that we can see. I found