Freudian Literary Criticism Essay

Freudian Literary Criticism Essay-44
true selfhood is in the unconscious), thereby challenging the Western philosophical consciousness.He insists that the Freudian discovery of the unconscious should be followed to its logical conclusion which is the self’s radical ex-centricity to itself.

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Further he argues that the two dreamwork mechanisms identified by Freud, condensation and displacement correspond to the basic poles of language identified by the linguist Roman Jakobson, i.e, metaphor and metonymy.

In metonymy one thing represents another by means of the part standing for the whole (For eg. In Freudian dream interpretation, an element in a dream might stand for something else by displacement (For eg.

In condensation, several things might be compressed into one symbol, just as a metaphor like, “the ship ploughed the waves” condenses onto a single item, two different images, the ship cutting through the sea, and the plough cutting through the soil.

The use of these linguistic means of self-expression by the unconscious, is part of Lacan’s evidence for the claim that the unconscious is structured like a language.

Thus the sense of a unified self is acquired at the price of this self being other, i.e, the mirror image.

For Lacan, the ego emerges at this moment of alienation and fascination with one’s own image.The ego is essentially a terrain of conflict and discord, a site of continual struggle.What Lacan refers to as a “lack of being” (which is considered as a cause of desire and is manipulated well by consumer capitalism) is the ontological gap (a notion critiqued by Deleuze and Guattari in their Anti Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia) or the primary loss at the very core of our subjectivity.Lacan’s Freudian reading primarily involves the realization that the unconscious is to be understood as intimately tied to the functions and dynamics of language. central pillar of Lacan’s psychoanalytic theory is that “the unconscious is structured like a language”, which he substantiates in the essay The Insistence of the Letter in the Unconscious.Lacan draws on Saussure and emphasizes that meaning is a network of differences.The child experiences both itself and its environment (in Lacanian terms “innenwelt” and “umwelt’ respectively) as a random, fragmented and formless mass.At some point between six and eight months occurs Mirror Stage (at the formulation of which Lacan was strongly influenced by Heidegger’s notions of ex-sistence and “nothingness” and Sartre’s distinction between subject and ego (as given in his Transcendence of Ego), when the child sees its own reflection in the mirror and begins to conceive itself as being, separate from the rest of the world.The aura created by the Freudian interpretations reached its zenith when the French Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan (propelled into this arena by his reading of Freud and Salvador Dali) achieved a place in the literary critical canon.The linguistic, philosophical and political scope of his discourse stirred the Western intelligentsia.Thus he deconstructs the liberal humanist notion of unique, individual selfhood and the idea of the subject as a stable amalgamation of consciousness.Lacan’s take on self would reject the conventional view on characterization ( as the idea of the character rests on the notion of a unique separate self) and the novelistic characters are seen as “assemblages of signifiers clustering round a proper name.”) Further, Lacan’s view of language (fundamentally detached from any referent in the world) defies literary realism since in realist novels, is that the text figures forth the real world for us.


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