Could anyone tell me which literary theories could most fit with the short story 'Portobello Road' by Muriel Spark? Thank you!'Portobello Road' is from 'The Complete Short Stories' by Muriel Spark....

Could anyone tell me which literary theories could most fit with the short story 'Portobello Road' by Muriel Spark? Thank you!

'Portobello Road' is from 'The Complete Short Stories' by Muriel Spark. If anyone has any views on the story even, would be very helpful. It is for an essay that I am stuck with. Thanks again guys!

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

By "which literary theories could most fit" I take it you mean you want to know what approach of literary criticism to take in analyzing Portobello Road. Of course, any theory of literary criticism is suited to any piece of literature as criticism lays open whatever within the text is relevant to its greater understanding, albeit each criticism works through the eyes of one specific agenda or another.

If you were to take an approach through Freudian psychoanalytical criticism, you could focus on Freudian concepts in the friendship between the friends, such as life drive, death drive, neuroses and psychosexual fantasies, or you could apply his dream analysis approach looking for "representation, displacement, condensation," etc. If you were to take a Marxist approach, you could focus on the dominance, exploitation and abandonment of the wealthy friends over the poor friends, such as Needle and Matilda. A feminist approach would explore the limitations, role assignments, social inequality and injustice experienced by the women, especially Needle, Matilda and Kathleen.

It seems that perhaps the best two choices might be Derridaian deconstruction or Jungian symbol analysis. With deconstruction, you could delve into the binaries represented by the friendships and consider who or what has and has not got a voice. With Jungian symbol analysis, you could explore the archetypes of collective unconsciousness represented by the friends and the peculiar narrator.

 

[Hope this might help you forge a direction for your work...]