In a paper employing psychological criticism, what might be a good poem or novel to deal with?

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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One literary work that would lend itself well to a psychological approach might be Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. Among the reasons that this book would be especially open to a psychoanalytic reading are the following:

  • The book is relatively short and relatively easy to read. At the same time, the book is obviously brimming with psychological complexity.
  • The book presents a variety of characters, each susceptible to psychological analysis.
  • In Edna, the book presents a heroine who is obviously conflicted psychologically.
  • Edna’s relations with her husband, her beloved, her lover, her children, and her father would all be grist for the psychoanalytical mill.
  • Edna’s predicament can obviously be analyzed in terms of the classic psychoanalytic divisions of id, ego, and superego.
  • Edna’s problems would also lend themselves to analysis in terms of more recent psychoanalytic fixations, such as The Gaze and The Mirror Stage.
  • Robert’s conflicts would also interest a psychoanalytic critic.
  • There are actual cigars (and cigarettes) in this story; in this work, cigars really do seem to be something more than cigars.  :-)

Robert rolled a cigarette. He smoked cigarettes because he could not afford cigars, he said. He had a cigar in his pocket which Mr. Pontellier had presented him with, and he was saving it for his after-dinner smoke.

  • There actually are sexual tensions in this story, and some of them do seem rooted in Edna’s childhood.

In short, this work presents a gold mine for psychoanalytic critics.




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