Psychoanalytic Criticism It's all in your head Psychoanalytic Approaches to Literature (1) Structure of the Mind, Child Development & Oedipus Complex (2) Dream and Sexual Symbols (3) Psychological Diseases FREUD'S MAIN IDEAS Freud's couch. Photograph: David Sillitoe guardian.co.uk First developed as a psychological /therapeutic method by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) in Austria. http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/ghettos/freud.html Three Premises 1. most of the individual's mental processes are unconscious. 2. all human behavior is motivated ultimately by what we would call sexuality. The prime psychic force--libido, or sexual energy. 3. Because of the powerful social taboos attached to certain sexual impulses, many of our desires and memories are repressed. unconscious --cannot be pointed at; can only be "diagnosed." --the reverse of consciousness Making itself manifest through "gaps"-unintended lapses in memory, slips of tongue, puns and dreams Structure of our Psyche Superego morality p. repository of conscience & pride reason and morality circumspection protect society • Ego Id pleasure p. •reality p repository of •Intermediary libido instinct and passion • protect self-satisfaction individual Child development oral stage anal stage latent period phallic stage genital stage What is happening in this process ... is a gradual organization of the libidinal drives . . . Oedipus complex and gendering process With Oedipus complex starts the process of socialization Child development (2) oral stage (sucking) anal stage (withholding, expulsion) phallic stage (castration complex) latent period Auto-eroticism genital stage puberty Oedipus complex (positive and negative constellation) Child development (2) Oedipus complex in Boys Positive constellation: identifies with Father, loves Mother Negative constellation: identifies with Mother and loves Father Oedipus complex in Girls loving Mother loving Father Loving Father and identifying with Mother. Child development (3): Beyond Freud Pre-Oedipal Symbiosis (Identification with Mother) Oedipus Complex & its resolution Transitional Objects (Object-Relation Theory) Key Issues in Freud’s Oedipus Complex Recognition of Father’s authority Development from bi-sexuality to heterosexuality The influence of sexuality, parents and childhood on our personality Are we born to be destructive and aggressive? Is sexuality the source of our energy? Books, Stories, and Plays Featuring Oedipus Complex 1. 2. 3. 4. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence Hamlet by William Shakespeare “Araby” by James Joyce Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill 5. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger 6. Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock PSYCHOANALITICAL LITERARY THEORY is based on the idea that “the unconscious, like the poem, or novel, or play, cannot speak directly and explicitly but does so through images, symbols, emblems, and metaphors” (Barry 102). What Do Psychoanalytic Critics Do? Look for the “covert” or hidden content beneath the “overt” or surface content of the text Pay close attention to the unconscious motives and feelings of either author or characters Demonstrate classic psychoanalytic symptoms in the text (such as oral, anal, and phallic stages, or the Oedipus complex, etc.) Analyze literary history as if it is one psyche Prioritize “psycho-drama” (conflicts between characters) rather than “social drama” (historical, political conflicts, etc.) Main Question: How do unconscious desires (of the author or characters) shape this literary work? [possible] Positives It focuses on human problems, not just formal ones It may be applicable to real life emotional, mental, or relational situations It's super fun to read literature and get to talk about sex and crazy people. [possible] Negatives It is very easy to fake. It is extremely subjective. It assumes that all human beings are driven by repressed, illicit sexual urges and is, therefore, a very negative view of human nature. IT'S ALL IN YOUR HEAD IT'S ALL ABOUT SEX Two Questions I. A professor of mine once said: “The better a poet is, the more likely you are to be able to discover his/her intention; that is, the one single meaning of the poem.” Is this a valid measure of literary quality? II. Would you like using this “objective” approach to understanding poetry, or do you prefer a more “subjective” approach? Sources Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. 2nd edition. NY: Manchester UP, 2002. Bressler, Charles E. Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007. Eliot, T. S. “Hamlet” in Eliot: Poems and Prose. NY, Knopf/Everymanm 1998. 131-140. - - - . “The Metaphysical Poets” (1921) in The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 1098-1105. - - - . “Tradition and the Individual Talent” (1919) in Criticism: Major Statements. 404-410. Kaplan, Charles and William Davis Anderson, eds. Criticism: Major Statements. 4th edition. Boston, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000. Leitch, Vincent B., gen. ed. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. NY: Norton, 2001.