Abstract: This essay uses psychoanalysis as the strategy of interpretation to read Willa Cather's My Antonia. Freud's well-known theory--the Oedipus complex--and Lacan's theory of the Mirror Stage are used as the modes of approaching the novel.
I use psychoanalytic criticism as a means of interpreting Willa Cather's My Antonia because I find some similarities between My Antonia and Peter Pan, between that and The Awakening when reading Keith Green's Critical Theory and Practice: A Coursebook.
In the light of Freud's Oedipus complex, like Peter Pan who sees Windy as a lover and mother, and who develops his sexual identity through this complex, Jim Burden also has a mother-like lover, Antonia, and finally comes to take his sexualized and gendered identity in this world. In the view of Lacan's Mirror Stage, like Edna Pontellier who wishes to return to her childhood memory, to return to the world of the Imaginary, in which "sometimes I feel this summer as if I were walking through the green meadow again; idly, aimlessly, unthinking and unguided" (Chopin 520), Jim Burden recollects his boyhood living in the great midland plain of North America where he feels he and Nature are one, but, unlike Edna who goes back and does not come back, Jim goes into the realm of the Imaginary and comes back to the Symbolic, experiencing the process of the Mirror Stage. These are the reasons why I try to apply psychoanalysis in the interpretation of the novel. General ideas will be given after the summery of the novel.
Willa Cather's My Antonia begins with Jim Burden's "an interminable journey across the great prairie of North America" (Cather 5), a journey back ...
... middle of paper ...
...one sometimes finds one's self behaving in bad dream" (Cather 158). After then, he feels he never want to see Antonia again; and he hates her as much as he hates Cutter. This accident pushes Jim to leave Antonia and to go to Lincoln for study.
The relationship between psychoanalysis and Willa Cather's My Antonia has not been defined. I hope that this essay is the first step towards seeing this wonderful novel from a new perspective.
Cather, Willa. My Antonia. Boston: Hougton Mifflin, 1988.
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. 3rd ed. New York: Norton, 1989. 508-598.
Green, Keith, and Jill Lebihan. Critical Theory & Practice: A Coursebook. New York: Routledge, 1996.
Wright, Elizabeth. Psychoanalytic Criticism: Theory in Practice. New York: Methuen,1984.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Works of art such as books, paintings, poems, and sculptures oftentimes are said to express the feelings, personalities, interests, and desires of their creator. One method for interpreting these details from books and other literary works is known as psychoanalytic literary analysis. This analysis seeks to identify the nature of relationships between characters as well as the author’s relationship with the characters. In the analyses the critic will discuss interactions between characters and with the author and often go so far as to make assertions about the author’s conscious and unconscious reasons for telling their story in the way they did.... [tags: Literary criticism, Literary theory]
1243 words (3.6 pages)
- The Psychoanalytic criticism is a literary criticism that is used to interpret texts and their deeper meaning of psychology. Sigmund Freud is the founder of this literary criticism and it has been put into practice since its conception. It is used to psychologically analyze a certain author or a certain character in a work. Its purpose is to understand a work by treating the chosen character as a case study and to look for certain psychological tendencies in the actions or thoughts of the characters.... [tags: Sigmund Freud, Psychology, Psychoanalytic theory]
992 words (2.8 pages)
- Criticism of My Antonia My Antonia by Willa Cather is a novel based on the memories of the protagonist, Jim Burden. Many critics have criticized this novel, and have focused on such literary elements as symbolism, motif, and characterization. The strongest argument however is the one that states that the foundation of every element in the book is based on the personal memories of Willa Cather. Many critics have discussed the symbolism in this novel. One symbol that some critics have discussed is the plow.... [tags: My Antonia Essays]
850 words (2.4 pages)
- Heart of Darkness: Psychoanalytic Criticism Psychoanalytic criticism originated in the work of Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, who pioneered the technique of psychoanalysis. Freud developed a language that described, a model that explained, and a theory that encompassed human psychology. His theories are directly and indirectly concerned with the nature of the unconscious mind. Through his multiple case studies, Freud managed to find convincing evidence that most of our actions are motivated by psychological forces over which we have very limited control (Guerin 127).... [tags: Psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud Psychology]
4505 words (12.9 pages)
- Psychological criticism is known as the type of criticism that analyses the writer’s work within the realms of Freud’s psychological theories. Such approach can be used when trying to reconstruct an author’s position throughout their literary writings, as well as understanding whom the author was and how their mind created such works. When considering the work of Emily Dickinson, psychoanalytic criticism comes into play with the role of explaining the many meanings behind her poetry, as to make the reader relate to such poetry on a deeper level or not to who she was as a human being.... [tags: freud, poetry, meanings, desires, concepts]
1087 words (3.1 pages)
- Psychoanalytic Criticism Sigmund Freud was an explorer of the human mind and the unconscious desires that are embedded in the brain. In his method of psychoanalysis, he explained human behavior. The most important aspects of psychoanalysis are the unconscious desires, the id, ego, super ego, and the Oedipus complex. Also included are the aspects of dreams, defenses, and the influence of childhood experiences. Freud also used his theory to treat psychological disorders. Psychoanalysis can be seen in literature if the reader can ask the right questions while analyzing.... [tags: Sigmund Freud, Psychosexual development]
1812 words (5.2 pages)
- A psychoanalytical look at the characters of My Antonia provides a better understanding of action vs. intent of each individual, particularly Jim Burden. The introduction prepares the reader by laying out a profile of Jim. Without the understanding of the origin of the novel the reader would not be able to assess the true meaning of the novel nor would they really grasp the concepts and issues that are being discussed through the story itself. So, with this essay I will bring together the importance of the introduction and how it correlates to Jim's search for a parental role. Jim Burden is one of the more complex characters that any one reader will ever encounter. ... [tags: My Antonia Essays]
1607 words (4.6 pages)
- I strongly believe that every person who reads a book, listens to the radio, or watches a program on television will make their own assumptions. I know I do. Most of us will ask, “Why did the main character make that decision?” Or “What were they thinking?” Could it be that the author of the story is protruding their own subconscious thoughts and beliefs through their characters. Absolutely, most critics have adapted psychoanalytic literary criticism theory based upon the works of psychoanalysis by famous psychologists Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Jacques Lacan to literary works.... [tags: Literary Analysis ]
2483 words (7.1 pages)
- Psychoanalytic Criticism Introduction The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud spent much of his life exploring the workings of the unconscious. Freud's work has influenced society in ways which we take for granted. When we speak of Freudian slips or look for hidden causes behind irrational behavior, we are using aspects of Freudian analysis. Many literary critics have also adopted Freud's various theories and methods. In order to define Freudian literary criticism, we will examine how various critics approach Freud's work.... [tags: Psychology Freud Psychological Papers]
1152 words (3.3 pages)
- Lacanian Psychoanalytic Criticism in Harry Potter The inhabitants of a faraway country known for its ivory towers and for its export of literary monographs were forever quarreling over who might best represent them. One day two tiny factions decided to join forces: the adherents of the Princess Childlit and the followers of Prince Psychian, the great-great-grandson of Empress Psyche. Both groups had for a long time felt themselves unduly spurned… by the powerful Board of Canonizers who had ruled Arkedemia for over a century.... [tags: Lacan Children's Books Papers]
4051 words (11.6 pages)
- The Great Gatsby: Can One Live on Dreams Alone?
- Free Great Gatsby Essays: Sensational, Blatant, Ugly and Pointless
- Hamlet’s Ophelia Explained
- F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby - Symbols and Symbolism
- F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby - The Up-Roaring Twenties
- gatcolor Great Gatsby Essays: Importance of Color