Okay so let me tell you a bit about Jewish Victor Frankenstein.
Victor’s Jewish background comes from his mother’s side exclusively (the rather Jewish sounding name ‘Frankenstein’ is his mother’s, which Victor takes as his own when he leaves home and essentially cuts himself off from his family). When his mother dies, the people around him stop acknowledging this as a part of his identity, though Victor, always an avid learner, knows very well that under Jewish law, having a Jewish mother makes you Jewish. Victor grew up reading literature from the Jewish community, specifically religious and otherwise, and was always quite taken with the golem mythos. When his mother dies, Victor’s dual desires to defeat death and to maintain his Jewish identity that is one of the only things he has left of his mother lead him to fixate on these golem stories, to think not only about bringing something back to life, but about creating a whole new creature.
Of course, Victor feels unsure about his background because he doesn’t really believe in God, and finds it somewhat irrational to do so. On some level, creating his creature is about creating a modern secular Jewish identity for himself, drawing on past traditions but marrying it with stark scientific theory instead of religious mysticism.
Religion in general makes Victor uncomfortable, because attempting to divorce his cultural identity from its linked religious connotations has created a lot of tension on the subject for him. He is extremely anxious re: Christianity and Catholicism in particular, as he is very knowledgeable about the history of Jewish persecution and can easily see his experimentation sparking claims of blood libel. This background produces his rather extreme emotional reaction to the priest who shows up for Vanessa.
Though in some ways Victor chooses to isolate himself from society, his outsider status is created by antisemitism as much as his own antisocial impulses. Victor is perhaps not terribly skilled at social interaction, but he has always been very aware of social prejudice in the world as it relates to himself and others. Despite appearing to come from the kind of wealthy family that would support colonialist enterprises, despite being trained in medical science in a climate tinged with scientific racism, Victor aggressively condemns some of Sir Malcolm’s behavior during his “adventuring.” Victor in fact gravitated towards a community of primarily Jewish social activists while he was at medical school in Germany, and though he would never really be an activist himself, their rhetoric stayed with him. And beyond this, Victor has pride- he knows he’s one of the most brilliant men of his generation, and no pseudo scientific ideas about racial superiority can change that. Likewise, he refuses to believe these ideas would hold true for anyone else, and will knock down anyone who believes otherwise.
The Golden Gauntlet, Henri III of France’s armour (details), c.1550
some classic éponine thénardier moments:
- starts spontaneously singing in the middle of a house robbery
- supposed to be doing a sneaky lookout but instead checks her hair
- does gardening so as to fulfil her sneaky ulterior motives (mr mabeuf was pleased)
- writes ‘please leave your house’ as threatening graffiti (it totally worked)
My desire for you screams liberation
From deep solipsistic recesses
Held ransom by know better
At the sight of your smile.
You cut through thick synapses
Like a primordial princess learned in
Brute psychonautics, then you take to
Distilling heart from mind with the
Sweet touch of a cake maker.
My thoughts leave on excellent sabbatical
While my domesticated blood pump
Suffers anxious from seperation
Singing songs of Stockholm and
Poor Marie - Antoinette