Psychoanalytic Literary Theory examines a text based upon what the critic believes to be the unconscious desires and anxieties of the author. The text and characters, therefore, illustrate what the author may be trying to hide. With this, his or her subconscious is projecting onto the characters. An example of an application Psychoanalytic Literary Theory can be seen in the following. Please remember, this is an individual application of the Psychoanalytic Literary Theory lens.
Let us take Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. There are two main concepts one can examine when applying a Psychoanalytic Literary Theory lens. First, Shelley must fear that she will never be able to give birth or raise a child successfully. Given that she gives over the ability to "birth" a child to Victor (a man), Shelley may feel inadequate as a mother or feel that she does not possesses the power to bring life to another life. Second, Shelley's feelings about women are very negative. All of the female characters are weak. Caroline Frankenstein dies. Justine and Elizabeth are both murdered. Even a little girl in the novel is too weak to swim. Only the men in the novel (mainly Victor) possess any real power. This speaks to Shelley's unconscious belief that women are weak and have no power at all.