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What are the elements of a psychological novel?

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Psychological literature deals with the inner person rather than the exterior actions of people and events.

The psychological novel is traditionally understood as a genre of prose fiction that focuses intensively on the interior life of characters, representing their subjective thoughts, feelings, memories, and desires. (The Encyclopedia of the Novel)

In truth, there is actually no novel that is not at least in part psychological since omniscient narrators examine the inner workings of many of their characters. But the intensity with which these inner thoughts and feelings are examined by means of such devices as stream-of-consciousness distinguishes the psychological novel from the others. In other words, there is a removal from the exterior world around the character.

One of the earliest psychological novels is Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, published in 1866. The narrative of this novel revolves around the inner workings of the main character's mind. A brilliant but conflicted and impoverished student named Rodlon Romanovitch Raskolnikov devises a theory about extraordinary men being above the law because in their brilliance they think "new thoughts" that are contributions to society. He then sets out to prove his theory by murdering an old pawnbroker and her sister. As the narrative progresses, Raskolnikov becomes tortured by his conscience and imaginings.

In the twentieth century, psychological novels became more prevalent with the writings of the Modernists, such as James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, who explored "the private, psychological, fantastic and the neurotic," and the studies of Sigmund Freud and others. By way of interior monologues, stream-of-consciousness, and free indirect discourse, the illogical language of the unconscious mind was expressed in narratives in an imagined removal from ordinary life.

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Psychological novels are works of fiction that treat the internal life of the protagonist (or several or all characters) as much as (if not more than) the external forces that make up the plot. The internal action also both results from and develops the plot.

In psychological novels, the characterization and development thereof is of primary importance, sometimes creating a plot that is more of a backdrop than the main point of interest. The interiority may be expressed in internal monologues or stream of conscious writing or in soliloquies orby the narrator as is Dostoyevsky's works.

Hamlet is a famous example of an early psychological drama, but psychological works date back to The Tale of Genji, an 11th-century Japanese novel. Psychological novels are an important genre of modern literature and occur frequently in both English and French writing.

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What are the elements of the psychological fiction genre?

The genre of psychological fiction is literature that focuses on why characters do what they do. Think about how you might figure out why someone you know acts the way they do. If you could get inside his or her head, you would be able to. That's what authors of this genre do—get the reader inside the characters' heads.

If you have read Lord of the Flies by William Golding or Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, you've read psychological fiction.

In his story about a group of boys stranded on a desert island after their plane is shot down, Golding explores the evil that exists inside of all humans and that cannot be eliminated. This evil motivates many of the actions of the boys in the story. When a few boys find the dead body of a parachuter from another plane hanging in a tree, their fears temporarily turn it into a symbol of evil.

Salinger explores the idea that events in childhood influence the adult a child becomes. Through a flashback, the reader learns that Allie, the brother of Holden Caulfield, the main character, died three years earlier. Holden was about thirteen at the time of the death and has been greatly affected by it. Holden’s actions in the novel are influenced by this traumatic childhood event.

Psychological fiction focuses on characters' motivations through the use of techniques that allow readers to get into characters' heads, such as internal monologues or stream of consciousness (characters talking or thinking to themselves) and flashbacks.

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