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In the world of psychology, the relationship between the mother and son in William Somerset Maugham’s short story “The Kite” is an Oedipus complex. In Greek mythology, Oedipus, the King of Thebes, killed his father and unbeknownst to him married his mother with whom he had children. In “The Kite,” the mother, Mrs. Beatrice Sunbury, and her son, Herbert, have an unnaturally close relationship. She controls him from the time he is a child through his early adulthood. He worships his mother in spite of her controlling nature. As a young boy, he asks for a kite and his parents give him one as a present. The family develops a ritual of flying the kites each Saturday until he is a young adult. He attempts to leave his mother by marrying a young woman. Herbert’s wife experiences the wrath of her mother-in-law and in turn, abandonment by her husband. Herbert is drawn back to his mother after speaking to his father who tells him how his mother is now flying the kites. His marriage fails and he returns to live in his parents’ home and reverts to their schedule that includes flying the symbolic kites each Saturday. Due to the son’s attachment to his mother, he chooses to be jailed instead of paying his a weekly allowance to his former wife in spite of being a successful accountant. In this way, the Oedipus complex plays out through the unnatural relationship between mother and son.
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