Ackerman's Wife of Light: New Images for Women

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Ackerman's Wife of Light: New Images for Women

The unconscious mind of man, according to the psychologist Carl Jung, consists of layers. Jung recognizes two basic layers in the unconscious mind: the personal unconscious, a superficial layer whose contents are derived from present lifetime experience, and the collective unconscious, a deeper inborn layer whose contents are inherited and essentially universal within the species. Jung believes that the personal unconscious contains feeling-toned complexes that constitute the personal and private side of psychic life and that the collective unconscious contains archetypes, "universal images that have existed since the remotest times" (3-5). He divides archetypes, which may be either positive or negative, into two classes: archetypes of transformation--situations, places, implements, and events--and archetypes of character. Jung devotes most of his writings on archetypal characters to the shadow, the anima and animus, the wise old man, the magna mater (great earth mother), the child, and the self. Frei lists the braggart, the buffoon, the hero, the devil, the rebel, the wanderer, the siren, the enchantress, the maid, and the witch (48). Of course, other archetypal characters exist. Jung finds archetypes in dreams, tribal lore, myths, and fairy tales. Archetypes also occur in literature.

Today, archetypes serve as models for female writers who are in doubt about gender roles in a changing society. For example, poet Diane Ackerman uses Faust, who Goldstein calls, "the archetypal professor of forbidden knowledge," as a model in Lady Faustus (1983); furthermore, he points out that Ackerman "staked out the Faustian territory" in her first volume of poetry, The P...

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XX. The Collected Works of C. G. Jung. New York: Princeton UP, 1969.

Kehl, D. G. "The Distaff and the Staff: Stereotypes and Archetypes of the Older Woman in

Representative Modern Literature." International Journal of Aging and Human Development. 26.1

(1988): 1-12.

Meyers, Kathleen A. "Phaeton as Emblem: Recent Works on Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. Rev. of

Reverse Thunder by Diane Ackerman. Michigan Quarterly Review. Summer 1990: 453-471.

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