Masterpieces of Women's Literature The Diary of Anaïs Nin Analysis - Essay

Anaïs Nin

Masterpieces of Women's Literature The Diary of Anaïs Nin Analysis

Perhaps the principal theme of Nin’s writing is the struggle between unity and multiplicity in human personality. This is a universal theme, one whose articulation has been enriched in the twentieth century by the explorations of psychoanalysis. Being a student of psychoanalysis, Nin was able to relate these understandings to her personal dilemmas. As the daughter in a traditional Catholic family, Nin’s role seemed circumscribed by the teachings of the Catholic church. European traditions of female subservience certainly were fostered by her parents. Nin’s willfulness, a trait she recognized in herself quite early, was submerged for many years beneath the overlay of expected patterns of behavior. To liberate herself without guilt, without denying the past, is the quest undertaken in the diary.

On numerous occasions, readers encounter Nin’s attempts to resolve her feelings toward her father. She believed, as a young girl, that her parents’ separation had to do with her unworthiness in her father’s eyes. Indeed, Nin often claimed that her diary was a way of reaching out to her father and proving her worth. Nin came to understand her own behavior in large measure as a quest for the absent father, which distorted her relationships with men. Conversely, Nin found herself playing the dutiful daughter role and leaving other aspects of self underdeveloped. Other behavioral patterns grew out of Nin’s sense of betrayal. Taking her father as a model, she feared betrayal at the hands of other men, and thus she either shied away from commitment or pushed too hard for control in her...

(The entire section is 653 words.)