Monsters and Madmen
The Frankenstein’s creature appearance is terrifying: people run away when they see him and the creature himself is frightened when he sees his own face reflected in the water. This is how Frankenstein describes him: “His skin was yellow and wrinkled. His hair was long and black. His eyes were watery. He was monstrous!”.
The creature has been represented many times, but which representation is most effective? Consider the idea of the “uncanny”. The word is often used now simply to mean supernatural and mysterious, but the psychiatrist Ernst Jentsch used it more precisely it an essay in 1906: he said that “doubts whether an apparently animate being is really alive or whether a lifeless object might be animate” caused a sense of “the uncanny”.
He also said that in story-telling “one of the most successful devices for easily creating uncanny effects is to leave the reader in uncertainty whether a particular figure in the story is a human being or an automaton”.
The idea was developed by Sigmund Freud in his 1919 essay “The Uncanny”: something seems familiar to us, but then we realise that it is different from the familiar, and this frightens us. This explains, for example, the horrific effect in film and fiction of zombies or dolls that seem to be alive.