Study Guide

Young Frankenstein Identity

Identity

FREDERICK: That's Fronkensteen.

What's in a name? Lots, apparently. Many people change their names to create a new identity for themselves. There's no way Oliva Wilde wants to be remembered as "Oliva Cockburn," and Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder both changed their names (Melvin Kaminsky and Jerome Silberman just didn't have that certain je ne sais quoi, we guess). But Frederick doesn't change his name to Freddie Franks; he keeps the name, just ditches the familiar pronunciation. As if this makes a difference, right? A typical Mel Brooks comic touch.

STUDENT: But aren't you the grandson of the famous Dr. Victor Frankenstein, who went into graveyards, dug up freshly buried corpses, and transformed dead components into—

Here we see why Frederick insists on pronouncing his name differently. His grandfather is seen as a crackpot. It would be like if you were a descendant of Hitler and insisted "It's Hightler." But again, the student sees right through it. We're starting to see Frederick's inability to escape who he really is.

FREDERICK: But I'd rather be remembered for my own small contributions to science, and not because of my accidental relationship to a famous… cuckoo.

There are multiple ironies here. One is that "Fronkensteen's" small contributions to science are in the same field as his "cuckoo" grandfather. And another is that, as you know, Fronkensteen ends up succeeding where his grandfather failed.

IGOR: Well, why isn't Froderick Fronkensteen?

Here's Igor (or is it "Eye-gor"?) keeping it real. Frederick's new identity is entirely arbitrary.

FREDERICK: I'm not a Frankenstein. I am not a Frankenstein. I'm a Fronkensteen!

Frederick's identity crisis is so deep-rooted that it manifests itself in a nightmare. He's calling this out in his sleep. The rest of his nighttime sleep-talking shows us that he believes that his name is his destiny. Kinda like if your name is Barrymore or Manning; your options are limited.

INSPECTOR: This man is different, I tell you. You can see that after you talk to him for five minutes!

Some villagers seem to think that Frederick is different than his grandfather. What makes Frederick seem different, i.e. less insane, to an outsider? Whatever it is, it's just a veneer.

FRAU BLUCHER: Yes, it's in your blood. It's in the blood of all Frankensteins. It reaches the soul when words are useless. You grandfather used to play it to the creature he was making.

While the monster ends up defying his nature, Frederick ends up succumbing to his, giving in to the inherent desire of a Frankenstein to create life. The violin music represents this destiny of identity. Frederick can't escape it.

FREDERICK: My name is Frankenstein!

When Frederick declares his name is Frankenstein, as Mary Shelley intended it to be pronounced, you know there's no going back. It's full-on crazy town from here on out, and he's okay with that. He's reclaimed his real mad-scientist self.

FREDERICK: And now, ladies and gentlemen, from what was only an inarticulate mass of lifeless tissue, I give you a cultured, sophisticated man about town. Hit it!

MONSTER: […] Puttin on the Ritz!

Frederick tries to convince the townspeople that the monster's not a monster at all by dressing him up in a top hat and tails for a snappy song-and-dance. The term "lipstick on a pig" occurs to Shmoop at this moment.

[After being taken by the monster, Elizabeth wakes up in a barn with streaks in her hair.]

Elizabeth's new hairstyle, which is enhanced even more in her final scene later on, is a bit of foreshadowing that she will morph into the "Bride of Frankenstein," as in, the bride of the monster. (For those of you who haven't seen the film, the bride has that same "I've been zapped by electricity" streak of white.)

ELIZABETH: You're incorrigible, aren't you? You little zipper neck! […] Come over here, you hot monster!

You know the saying—hotness is in the eye of the beholder. Frederick, who created him, sees the monster as a son, and somehow Elizabeth sees him as a sex object. Zippers are hot, we guess.

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