the herd of common projectors

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the herd of common projectors

"Projector" is a term commonly used in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to refer to inventors, often in a pejorative sense. Its ambivalence of connotation is reflected in the double primary meaning assigned to it by the Oxford English Dictionary:
a. One who forms a project, who plans or designs some enterprise or undertaking; a founder.

b. In invidious use: A schemer; one who lives by his wits; a promoter of bubble companies; a speculator, a cheat.

Samuel Johnson is, if anything, less evenhanded in the double definition of "projector" contained in his 1755 Dictionary:
1. One who forms schemes or designs.

2. One who forms wild impracticable schemes.

Perhaps the most famous literary account of projectors is that offered by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver's tour through the Grand Academy of Lagado (Gulliver's Travels, III.5), a think-tank populated by inventors of perfectly useless or insane conceptions and contraptions.

Victor Frankenstein's desire to separate himself from madmen and hacks is thus easily justifiable, whether we construe it in accord with his ambition or his achievement. Yet, the tone of condescension in his phrasing is expressive of an arrogance and self-approbation that verges on universal contempt. Its natural complement in a social dimension would be a hierarchical rigidity denominated according to class, and in a psychological field the prejudice we customarily comprehend under the rubric of racism. In other words, there is an easy shift from this self-esteem to the denigration of the Other expressed by Victor's continual demonization of his Creature.