Being and Having
and the Wages of Love
I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers—their grace, beauty, and delicate complexions; but how was I terrified, when I viewed myself in a transparent pool! At first I started back, unable to believe that it was indeed I who was reflected in the mirror; and when I became fully convinced that I was in reality the monster that I am, I was filled with the bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification.
The creature in Frankenstein
In Frankenstein, the creature's horrifying encounter with his own reflection is a direct reversal of the Greek myth of Narcissus, who falls in love with his own beautiful reflection. Instead, the creature plummets into intense self-hatred. While the ancient Greek myth worries about the dangerously intoxicating potential of one's own mirror image, this earlynineteenth-century novel suggests that the primary narcissistic encounter with the perfect counterpart is one of abjection. “I was in reality [in the reflection] the monster that I am” (Shelley 90). Looking at the reflection has become a metaphor for the inadequacy of the viewing subject to ideal images.
With the move away from traditional societies, in which one's identity was both restricted and known, image becomes supervening. “What
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Publication information: Book title: Flesh Wounds: The Culture of Cosmetic Surgery. Contributors: Virginia L. Blum - Author. Publisher: University of California Press. Place of publication: Berkeley, CA. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 220.
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