Víctor Erice's use of clips from James Whale's Frankenstein as the basis for actions by his young protagonist, Ana, in El espíritu de la colmena has led critics to speculate on the symbolic meaning of the monster within that Spanish film. For Virginia Higginbotham the monster represents Franco's Spain, a country that has lost both its memory and its moral sense (116-20). For Marvin D'Lugo the monster stands for the mysterious, the unknown, the different, and the deviant, all of which Ana identifies with as she defines herself as an oppositional spirit (2862). Carmen Arocena sees Ana's rebellion as an elaborate initiation ceremony through which the girl adopts the forbidden social values embodied by the monster (114-40). Other critics associate the monster with Ana's father, and Ana's search for the monster is viewed in Oedipal terms as a love-fear relationship based on a patriarchal authority that by extension symbolizes the Franco dictatorship (Kinder 60-61, Edwards 136-45, Curry 274, Riley). Taking a less political orientation, some critics primarily see Ana's fascination with the monster as a celebration of the imagination and a declaration of the power of fictional creation (Arata, Harper).
This article was originally published in Romance Languages Annual IX. Author(s) reserves all rights.