For a topic such as motherhood, one school of critical thought likely to provide interesting observations is that of psychoanalysis. I have chosen to focus on Jacques Lacan for this essay since his theories have a greater emphasis on the use and formation of language in the individual than other key figures in his field, such as Jung or Freud. Lacan believed that when we examine literature, we do not merely analyse the characters of a text, but also the text itself as an effect of the linguistic wordplay of the unconscious. For this reason I feel that Lacan is particularly well suited to the discussion of poetry. In this essay I shall be making reference to Lacan’s analysis of The Three Orders and his account of The Mirror Stage in relation to the ego.
For Lacan, the Mirror Stage is not ...
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...ressing or painful situations, although we may have forgotten of origins of the compulsion. In the symbolic realm we also begin our unending search for Objet (petit) a, the lost object that must constantly be sought in order, we feel, to complete us: an unobtainable other. For Wordsworth, this Objet (petit) a appears to be the mother figure and his compulsion is to write about her from every perspective.
Bennett, Andrew, and Nicholas Royle. An introduction to literature, criticism and theory 4. ed. Harlow: Pearson Longman, 2009.
Leitch, Vincent B. "Jacques Lacan." In The Norton anthology of theory and criticism. New York: Norton, 2001.
Wilden, Anthony. System and structure: essays in communication and exchange. 2nd ed. London: Tavistock, 1980.
Wu, Duncan. "Lyrical Ballads." In Romanticism: an anthology. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1994.
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