Explain the relationship between Maslow's hierarchy of human needs theory with psychology in literature.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Maslow is relevant to the idea of psychology in literature because of his stages of development.  The notion here is that human beings feature different needs in different contexts.  The psychology of human beings is constantly evolving and constantly changing based on the conditions of needs that human beings have at a particular time.  In many respects, characters in literature are similar to Maslow's ideas because their needs dictate their own psychological condition in literature.  A character might be needing some type of element that is rooted in terms of where they are in their psychological condition as defined by Maslow's hierarchy.  This could be something like shelter, impacting how they view the world and how they are presented in the literature.  It could also be something like a character yearning for companionship and love, something that could motivate their depiction to be in a certain manner.  In the end, Maslow's theories have much to do with how characters in literature are presented because their own psychological conditions helps to determine the motivation behind what they do and why they do it.  It is here where Maslow's theories of psychological need impact characters in literature and our reading of them.