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					                       Lebanese University – Faculty of Letters ‫– العمبدة‬
                                   English Department
                              “Seminars in Literary Theory”
                             Professor: Dr. Atif Faddul – Student: Marie-Rose Zeenny


                                       SECOND TRIMESTER
                                 Session 11 – Wednesday March 18, 2009
                                 PSYCHOANALYTIC APPROACH
   We have two major figures: I. Freud
                                     II. Lacan
I. Freud:
   Freud‟s theories:
   Freud is considered the father of Modern psychology and made of it a discipline.
   1) He changed one‟s image of himself: there was a tendency which believes that human beings
      are rational governed by their reason and then Freud‟s theories have shown that humans are
      not that rational but their instincts ruled their lives. He contributed to the theory of the
      structure of the Human psyche. Taken in reversed order, the new psychic zones are described
      as follows:
      a. The Id: is the reservoir of the instincts, desires, drives and impulses of the libido. It is
         dominated by the pleasure principle and it is immoral and illogical because it doesn‟t
         belong to the realm of the mind. It has no plan and no unity of purpose. All repressed
         impulses become merged into it. The Id leads to destruction of given free choice; i.e.,
         destruction of human personality and society. In fact, we have two basic instincts:
          i. Life Instinct / Eros / Sexuality
         ii. Death Instinct / Thanatos / Agression
            In this respect, we have a tendency to preserve life and another opposite tendency to
            destroy life and thus these two instincts are in conflict. Sometimes, we see them merged
            together in Sadism [sexuality and aggression directed toward others] and Masochism
            [sexuality and aggression directed toward oneself].
            Moreover, Freud overemphasizes sexuality in human‟s life, but some of his students did
            not agree totally with him in this idea. Early childhood is a period of instincts; it is a
            period of bliss because the child gets what he wants without any prohibition. Therefore,
            the pleasure principle works in early childhood when the child is united with its mother.
            On the other hand, Freud had noticed that the sexual disturbances of his patients were
            rarely of recent origin and could, in fact, be traced to incidents which had occurred in the
            individual‟s earliest childhood. He concluded that the child experiences a sex life of his
            own long before the period usually assigned to sexual development. As finally
            elaborated, this theory dispelled once and for all the idea of childhood as a sexually
            innocent period free from the strains and stresses of adult sex life. To Freud, the sexual
            drama begins at birth.
            Oral (from birth – 18 months), anal (18 months – 3 years) and genital eroticism (3 years
            – 7 years) follow each other in that order until, at the age of seven, the child reaches the
            stages of genital primacy. Sexuality is not centered in the genital organs but could be
            found elsewhere. This is followed by a period of latency that lasts until adolescence or
            puberty and later the genital period becomes dominant after puberty.
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       However, this early period of bliss does not last; the child starts having lots of “don‟t”
       developing thus his own self and identity. For instance, his sense of self is developed by
       comparing his image to that of his mother. As the child develops, he starts to compete
       with his father for the love of his mother [Oedipus complex] and dreams of killing his
       father in order to replace him and be with his mother. This is based on the play Oedipus
       the King. Besides, this Oedipus complex does not last long for most children for several
       reasons. One of these reasons is that for fear of castration, the child starts to identify with
       his father and accepts the rules of the father. Yet, this Oedipus complex might last in a
       few children and cause psychological problems. On the other hand, Freud was considered
       to be sexist since he was more concerned with male sexuality than with female sexuality.
   b. The Ego: is the conscious mind or what we allow to reflect to others; it is the rational
      order that controls the impulses of the Id and organizes our mental life. It is clear and
      derived from the Id, but shaped and modified to fit the necessities of the outside world.
      Therefore, the ego mostly belongs to the realm of the unconscious. It is the intermediacy
      balance between the Id and the Superego; it tries to find a compromise between the needs
      of the Id and the dictates of the Superego. It is dominated by reality principles. For
      instance, in early childhood children want everything but as they develop their ego they
      tend to become more rational. The Ego is subject to two conflicting pressures; one from
      the libido of the Id and another from the censor wall that is an opposing force, coming
      partly from within the individual and partly form the inhibiting effect of social mores.
      The Chief function of the Ego is to watch the external world for the best times and
      occasions in order to allow harmless gratification of the urges of the Id. It watches and if
      the situation is harmful, it forbids it. A second function of the Ego is to induce the Id to
      renounce, modify or postpone such gratification if it seems necessary. Apparently in
      control of the Id, the Ego never succeeds in suppressing its urges and must pay for the
      attempt of posing part of its power.
   c. The Superego: is a regulating agent controlling the actions of the individual; it is
      dominated by morality principles. This agency exists mostly within the Id, with lesser
      areas in the Ego, and it functions to protect society (conscience, religion, traditions…). It
      is independent of the conscious Ego and largely inaccessible to it. It is a depository of all
      previous experiences including the purely instinctive ones. Its chief function is criticism
      by creating in the Ego an unconscious sense of guilt. So, as the child develops, his
      superego (conscience) develops. It is figured out in terms of punishment for bad behavior
      and reward for good one.
2) Freud contributed also to the theory of the role of the unconscious that became more central
   with him. He came up with the term repression which is whatever desires we cannot fulfill
   in our lives and we store in our unconscious. In other terms, the unconscious is the reservoir
   where we store our repressed instincts and drives but luckily we have an outlet.
Dreams are the outlet of the repressed. We fulfill whatever we can‟t in real life in dreams which
are never simple, never straightforward but very complicated. We have two types of dreams:
   i. Latent is the repressed.
  ii. Manifest is what we see in a dream and which is shorter than the real.
However, the process of going from latent to manifest is very complicated. Dreams, like
language, employ disguised techniques (in an acceptable form) and images. There are two terms:
   i. Condensation [equivalent to metaphor in language]: Many similar repressed materials
      could be condensed and represented in one image.
  ii. Displacement [it is association and contiguity equivalent to metonymy in language]: is
      when we don‟t see the person himself but what we associate to that person or to that
      experience. In other terms, we see the thing instead of the person himself.
                                                 32
This interpretation of Freud is a major point discussed in literary criticism. To Freud, literature is
equivalent to day-dreaming. Hence, the critic should be able when reading the text to trace the
image from the manifest to the latent. For instance, if one wishes to kill his father he will dream
of killing a king – symbol of authority instead. It is all metaphoric, metonymic and figurative.
However, the task of critics is to interpret these and relate them, unlike formalism, to the life of
the author. Therefore, this school relates literature to the life of the author. Sometimes, it is
reader-centered, focusing on how the reader reads and finds an outlet in literature.
Guerin’s A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature in his fourth chapter – 4th edition
deals with The Psychological Approach: Freud.
This psychological approach has been controversial and abused. It aims at the following: (p. 125)
1. To reveal the misunderstanding of psychological criticism. That is, there is misunderstanding
   that leads to the disagreement of some critics on this approach since they were not aware of
   the psychological approach very well. Psychology is a science, and usually literary men are
   not interested in science. This creates the misunderstanding.
2. To point out the theory as an interpretive tool used by critics; i.e., it is not easy. When you
   interpret it, there is something subjective in it and there lies the difficulty. Therefore, it
   reveals the mysteries of the text.
3. To help the reader understand, criticize and appreciate literature. It also shows the reader how
   to support his interpretations through given examples. E.g. Oedipus complex will be revealed
   through analyzing Hamlet.
The weakness in this Psycho-Analytic Approach is that it doesn‟t take into consideration the
aesthetic element in the work of literature. It sheds light on the work‟s thematic and symbolic
mysteries, but it fails to give the aesthetic value of the work or to point out the components of the
poem. It rather concentrates on the analysis and interpretations.
There are some abuses to the psychological approach: (pages 126 - 127)
1. Exaggeration, which is seen in the following: the users of this approach heavily rely on
   psychoanalysis in their theses towards any literary work, and this is not sound.
2. Psychoanalytic extremists of this theory end into adopting occultism (secret knowledge) with
   its own mystique jargon. This means that there is ambiguity.
3. The critics of this approach are either scholars who do not understand psychology perfectly
   well or psychologists who are not interested in literature. Both do not give their just
   judgment. The first group, the literary scholars, has abused Freudian insights by
   oversimplification and distorting the text. The other group ignores the readers‟ feelings and
   emotions as seen in the text.
Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) systemized the study of psychology. He is Jewish and spends his
life in Vienna. He lived between the World Wars, suffered from the oppression and was thus
extremist. Many of his patients became psychologists and psychiatrics. Ernest Jones gave the 1st
psychological reading of Hamlet while Marie Bonaparte gave the 1st psychological reading of
Edgar Allan Poe‟s short stories.
Page 127: According to Freud, our rationality does not really control our instincts without having
control over our feelings and hence the unconscious is very important.
What are Freud‟s premises / bases? (Page 128)
 1. Most of our mental processes are unconscious.
 2. All human behavior is motivated by what we call sexuality.
 3. Because of the powerful social taboos attached to certain sexual impulses, many of our
    desires are repressed.
                                             33
                                  This chart postulated the existence of the areas he called 1st) the conscious, 2nd) the
                                 preconscious, 3rd) the unconscious, 4th) the libido (Id), and 5th) the censor (superego).

According to Freud, The Id is totally unconscious whereas the Ego and The Superego are partly
conscious partly unconscious.
1. Freud distinguishes between three levels of mental activity: the conscious, the preconscious,
   and the unconscious. The conscious is that part of the mind immediately in contact with the
   external world. The preconscious was conceived as storage for the entire individual‟s past
   experiences and impulses. The unconscious is any mental process. We infer it from its
   effects, but we are not aware of it. This simply means that it must be active at a certain time
   that we do not know about. It is a deeper reservoir than the preconscious containing the
   primordial urges of our nature.
2. Freud considers the libido / sexual energy as the basic motif of all human action, projecting
   the impulse of the unconscious. The Id is thus chaotic, illogical, asocial and amoral and if we
   stay at its level we behave as evils. Hence, the ego is very important in this process to keep
   us healthy.
3. To Freud, the censor was the inhibitory effect of the individual‟s awareness of social and
   moral taboos. It is the basic motif of our action. This force projects impulses from the
   unconscious. The impulse comes to surface in order to be achieved. What projects this
   impulse (i.e. give it force) is the libido and what prevents this force from being achieved is
   the censor (superego).
Page 133:
At the age of five, the Oedipus complex manifests itself when the child reaches the stage of
genital primacy. This is one of the examples of how early Freudian applied the theory. However,
there were also those who abused the theory when they manifested a misunderstanding of the
real theory. Ernest Jones was one of the first who applied the psychological theory on Hamlet
while Marie Bonaparte, a student of Freud too, wrote a book giving the 1st psychological reading
of Edgar Allan Poe‟s short stories. Moreover, this is what we call Classical Freudian Criticism.
Page 148:
Edgar Allan Poe‟s parents died when he was still a child. Hence, he was attached to his mother
and couldn‟t accept this fact i.e. the death of his mother. However, this made obsessed with death
and corpses to the extent of developing pathological problems. Mary Bonaparte studied Poe‟s
life story carefully and related each short story to his life. Alcohol was an escape to him.
However, Bonaparte‟s work was very technical for she used very psychological terms and
related the work to the life of the author and to his obsession with the death of his mother early in
his life. She classifies Poe‟s works into stories of the mother and stories of the father, but to some
critics she went into extremes in doing that.
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                           Session 12 – Wednesday March 25, 2009
             FREUD’S PSYCHOANALYTIC APPROACH – In Practice
Shakespeare‟s Hamlet
                                          Presentations were done by students
Hawthorne‟s Young Goodman Brown
                                          analyzing each of the selected works of art
Walker‟s Everyday Use                     according to the Psychological Approach.
Marvell‟s “To his Coy Mistress”
A Psychological Approach to Shakespeare‟s Hamlet (Michella Chahwan)
The Oedipus complex:
 The psychoanalyst Ernest Jones provided the first treatment of a major work. He applied the
  psychological approach to Hamlet studying the reasons for Hamlet‟s delay in killing his uncle

 The question:”why the delay in killing the uncle?” Hamlet is seen as a procrastinator. He
  does not fulfill this duty until forced by physical circumstances and only after the mother is
  dead. This question is explained in terms of internal not external circumstances. (The
  Oedipus complex)

    Hamlet feels sexual desire towards his mother and therefore he does not kill his uncle
    because in a way, he will be killing himself. This is because the uncle, by killing the
    father and being with the mother sexually, has done what Hamlet always dreamt of doing


    The characters of the ghost and the father are dramatic projections of Hamlet‟s own
    conscious-unconscious ambivalence about the father figure.
    The ghost represents the conscious ideal of fatherhood; the image that is socially
    accepted.
    Claudius represents Hamlet‟s repressed hostility toward his father as a rival for his
    mother‟s affection.


    This reading also explains why Hamlet is cruel to both women; Ophelia and his mother.
    These women represent the sexuality he is never to have. His incestuous impulses are so
    repressed that they result in bitter misogyny.
    His speech with Ophelia in which he tells her to go to a nunnery where she will never
    have contact with sexuality and where she will not be a breeder of sinners is such an
    example of misogyny.
    To Hamlet, both types of women (the pure and the sensual) are hostile.

    Another example is his reprimanding of his mother in the scene where he declares that at
    her age, her sexual appetite should be dead.
    In the same scene (the bedroom scene) his father entering in a nightgown can be seen as
    his return to proclaim the marital bed from his son.

    Hamlet in his subconscious desires his mother, wants to replace the father, cannot kill his
     uncle, and develops misogyny.

                                              35
A Psychological Analysis to Hawthorne‟s Young Goodman Brown (Marie-Rose Zeenny)

         There are many approaches that one can take when analyzing literature. In “Young Goodman
Brown” there are many layers to read through. By using the psychological approach to literature, one can
see many levels that may not have been noticed while just reading the story. When using the
psychological ideas, one becomes more tuned into the subtle details produced by the work. However,
Freud explained most of the points that reveal themselves through his ideas about consciousness and
human sexuality. Using the psychological approach to reading literature, Young Goodman Brown's
layers are unfolded and the parts are better understood.

         The opening paragraph to Hawthorne's “Young Goodman Brown” is a prime example of how
Freud's ideas apply to literature. The first and most obvious of the implications is the wife's name.
Because her name is Faith, the first connection that immediately forms is religion. In the beginning of the
story the relevance vaguely presents itself, but as one reads on the religious connection fits with the rest
of the work. Strict Puritanism ruled the way of life through the time that the book emerged. The mention
by Hawthorne to the “pink ribbons of her cap” reaches far from appropriate for the time. These ribbons
suggest that Faith lacks purity and that she presents herself in a frivolous manner. Later in the writing,
more references to Freud's sexual bases show themselves. The solitary lady that Goodman Brown sees
standing in the woods turns out to be his Sunday school teacher. She makes some elude comments about
Brown's traveling companion "being her master". However these layers contain more than just sex. In the
paragraph that Goodman Brown exclaims: "My Faith is gone!" cried he, after one stupefied moment.
"There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name. Come devil; for to thee is the world given." This
passage exemplifies how his wife's name contains two meanings. First, he becomes upset because he lost
her. However, if you apply the psychological approach to the quote, you can see that he also refers to the
fact that he lost his faith in a religious sense. He realizes that because he strayed so much on this night of
evil that he can no longer be pure.
         This short story is about a journey from sunset to sunrise. The journey is not only physical but
also psychological. In the arena of psychology, the focus should be put on three important things: setting,
time, and place. In terms of time, Brown leaves his wife, goes to the forest and comes back in the
morning. The length of the journey is from sunset till sunrise. In terms of place, the village Salem is the
city of light and knowledge. Brown leaves Salem into the forest. Salem is a well-ordered town in New
England in the time of the Puritans where they established their firm regime with strict rules and morality.
This means that this village stands for peace, order and light – a place of knowledge and spirituality. In
terms of setting, Brown has left his village into the forest, which stands for darkness. There is no order in
the forest. It is a dark place of terror where Brown meets the devil (the evil inside us resides in the dark
areas of our minds; i.e. the unconscious and the id). So, there is a conflict between the two places and
between the two settings. Brown left the village because he was urged by libidinal impulses. In the forest,
he saw the people of Salem who went there to be with the devil. His Faith was one of them. The village
is, therefore, equated with the conscious since it is a place of moral and social order whereas the forest
stands for the unconscious.
        The religious group of settlers in New England, the Puritans, established then a religious regime
and because they were religious, they had morals. Thus, the village stands for Freud‟s superego due to the
severe puritanical morality of strict rules and taboos that prevent one from doing low deeds. On the other
hand, the forest is a wide place – a place of terror and wild passions. It stands for the id as a reservoir of
impulses. Poor Brown doesn‟t indulge like others in the forest because he stands for the consciousness or
what Freud calls ego. He is the mediator between the Id and the Superego, and this is why he is shattered
between the two because he fails in his role to set a balance between the super-ego and the Id. It seems he
is weak as a mediator and unqualified to play such an effective role therefore he is defeated. When Brown
comes back to his wife, he is not the same person. He meets the devil and the forest influences him. He
keeps himself away from Faith. He is no more a religious person. On the other hand, the devil is described
as holding resemblance to the hero and is therefore the other self or the alter-ego of Brown‟s psyche; it is
the dramatic projection of a part of his psyche, as well as Faith is a projection of the other part of his
psyche. Satan‟s stick is similar to the one he gives to Brown and that looks like a black snake – symbol of
temptation which stands for the uncontrollable phallus of Freud.
                                                     36
         In the forest, Brown meets Goodie Cloyse as well as some important people in the society and his
wife Faith wearing pink ribbons. Pink is ambiguous; it is between white symbol of purity and red symbol
of passion. Hawthorne highlights the suppression of the libido or Id and the tyrannous super-ego though
he viewed the problem as an imbalance of head versus heart. Poor Brown could not create the balance
between the suppression of the super-ego and the suppression of the Id. Therefore, he has been the tragic
victim of society that neglects man‟s physical life. According to Salem‟s society – the Puritan society,
nature was synonymous with sin – it is sinful for one to fulfill one‟s pleasure although this is against
human‟s nature. Brown becomes a guilty, suspicious, and anxious person, unable to face the reality of his
daily life, because, since his childhood, he has received instructions which prohibited physical
knowledge. He becomes curious and not evil, but his curiosity leads him to obsession, repression, to
destruction, and to defeat. Furthermore, the very nature of his wilderness fantasy substantiates Freud‟s
theory that our repressed impulses and desires express themselves in our dreams, in that dreams are
symbolic forms of wish fulfillments. Hawthorne, writing more than a generation before Freud, was a keen
enough psychologist to be aware of many of the same phenomena Freud was to systemize through clinical
evidence. Therefore, the lesson Hawthorne wants to convey is that one needs to experience life both as a
faithful one and as a joyful one; spiritual and material in order to live naturally as human beings. To
govern and control people severely according to rules of morality is not good. We have to color our life
with materialism, impulses, and physicality… We cannot live as human beings according to rigid moral
rules, but also according to natural rules. We cannot deny our manhood or womanhood since there are
desires we need to fulfill. Nevertheless, we cannot go into extremes in accepting wild passions.

        The story of “Young Goodman Brown” contains more than just what we read. By applying the
theories of psychology to the text, it displays a completely new dimension. Rather than just a story about
a young man who strays into the woods with a man whom he never met before and seeing strange things,
the story takes on a different face. By analyzing it with this approach, it becomes clear that the story
involves sex, religion, and Man's struggles with his inner demons. Hence, by applying the psychological
theories to the story, the reader opens up new view points that he failed to notice initially.

A Psychological Analysis to Marvell‟s “To His Coy Mistress”
This poem is based on sexual imagery from a psychological point of view such as:
    1. Time eating us
    2. Birding eating us
    3. Worms eating her honor and virginity.
A Psychological Analysis to Walker‟s “Everyday Use” (Rita Achkar)
The mother is very poor. Maggie had a scar from a fire that Dee started. Dee leaves her house
and changes her name but when she comes back she wants to take the quilt and hang them on the
wall → heritage.
    1. Maggie spends the whole day cleaning; she represents the super-ego (clean, neat …)
    2. Dee wants pleasure in life → ID (she left her family to find her own pleasure and
       happiness.)
    3. Mother is a mixture of ego & superego; she is caught between the pleasure principle and
       the morality principle. In the end, the ego dominates over the ID when the mother said no
       to Dee and decided not to give her the quilts; the ego has regulated the ID.
N.B.: It is not easy to categorize characters: the mother seems to be between the ego and the
superego; Maggie is very passive whereas the superego is usually oppressive.




                                                   37
Not only critics benefited from Freud and from the Psycho-Analysis Approach but even writers
themselves. Psychology was there throughout history. Both critics and writers benefited from
Freud either in analyzing literary works or in writing literary works. They were more aware of
dreams and repression. For instance, the stream of consciousness technique in literature is when
one sits and speaks out his / her mind without following any chronological order of the events. In
this sense, we see more of psychology in Modern literature. Freud‟s work was therefore very
influential. Even some writers used Freud‟s ideas in a comic ironic way such as Frank O‟Connor
who wrote My Oedipus Complex. [The story begins in retrospection. The adult Larry remembers
his idyllic and blissful early childhood at home with his mother while his father was away during
World War I. Larry, confident of his mother's full attention, accompanied her throughout each
day, prayed unfailingly for his father's safe return, and urged his mother to brighten up the
house by bringing home a baby. This Edenic existence is abruptly lost when his father returns
home from the war. Suddenly, Larry finds that he has been demoted: His mother is attentive to
his father and inattentive to him. He is not happy with his father‟s return and he is competing
with him on the mother. The irony lies in the fact that another child is born, and so the father and
Larry unite together to compete with the newborn.]
In all cases, Freud has influenced literary criticism thoroughly.
Assignment: Read Lacan‟s articles (Neo-Freudianism) from Freud to Post Structuralism and
from Saussure to Structuralism and the chapter on Lacan in Selden.
Directions for the Research Paper Submit a proposal on April 22, 2009
In the theoretical part, we present the theory [⅓ → ½ of the paper]
In the applied part, we choose a novel, a long poem, few poems or short stories of the same
writer that can be approached by the same method that we already presented in the first part of
our paper and then we analyze them according to that approach.
Our paper should include:
1. Thesis Statement or argument is what we are going to discuss in our paper.
2. A short literary review of the references we chose and what we are going to add to what has been
   done.
3. A preliminary outline
4. Methodology: Approach and Methodology
5. Bibliography of the books and the scholarly articles used – 10 references at least [be consistent in
   using the APA or the MLA style].
The final paper should be submitted the last day of class. We have to be eclectic and benefit from
different approaches.
We have to learn the art of research:
1. Summarizing ideas from a book [documented in a proper way]           Comment on the chosen ideas.
2. Paraphrasing putting in our own words the ideas [no condensation]    Margins should be respected
3. Quoting with proper documentation                                    and font should be consistent.

Lacan goes beyond Freud especially in his dealing with the concept of the ego. For Freud, the
ego becomes stable as the child grows and the sense of self become stable but Lacan questions
the stability of the ego. To Lacan, the unconscious is structured like the language and in both the
dream-world is important for the analysis of literature. In other terms, we should approach
literature the same way we approach dreams going from the manifest to the latent or from the
obvious to the hidden. Images in literature are disguised techniques the way they are in dreams.
We look at them as symbolic of something hidden. Literature, like dreams, uses images of
different kinds to hide what cannot be expressed directly.

                                                  38
                                    Session 13 – Wednesday April 01, 2009
II. Lacan: Neo-Freudianism
   Lacan reinterpreted Freud in light of structuralist and post-structuralist theories, turning psycho-
   analysis from a humanist philosophy into a post-structuralist theory. According to him, there are
   3 stages in the development of the individual:
      1) Symbolic [desire]
      2) Imaginary [demand]
      3) Real [need]
   3) The Real corresponds to the very early childhood when the child is united with its mother
      and with the world with no distance and no gap. This stage is characterized by complete
      pleasure with no taboos since all its needs are fulfilled immediately and fully. It is a state of
      bliss and happiness [jouissance] and the child has no separate identity of its own.
   2) Then, the child grows up and starts to develop some kind of identity maybe according to
      Lacan by looking at the mirror and reaching what we call the mirror stage wherein he
      compares its image to what he sees in the mirror. Accordingly, he starts to have some sense
      of identity during this imaginary stage. However, to Freud, it is an allusion based on
      differences like language. It is a stage of demand since the mother is not available all the
      time to fulfill its needs. For instance, the „yoyo‟ game [characterized by „gone‟ and
      „regained‟] represents this stage the best.
   1) The Symbolic phase which we call the world of the father is the next step that the child enters
      after going beyond the Oedipus complex as a result of growing. The father here stands for
      rules, society, culture, laws and language. In this stage, the child starts to use language and
      his life begins to be governed by laws, rules and culture. According to Lacan, this is a period
      of signifiers. For instance, to Saussure, it is possible over time that after excessive use there
      will be some kind of closeness between signifiers and signified and the relationship would
      not be arbitrary. However, Lacan insisted that this gap between signifiers and signified would
      be there all the time and it seems that the “S” of the signifier becomes dominant and the “s”
      of the signified evaporates. Hence, we are left with words and the real, like the body of the
      mother, is always absent. Here, we are more in the stage of what we call post-structuralism.
      We desire the body of the mother – the real but we never get hold of it because we have lost
      it for good. Lacan, unlike Freud, did not consider the ego as stable or unified; to him, it is an
      illusion, a product of culture and of language. The unconscious to him is structured like
      language; it works by displacement and condensation the same way language expresses
      itself. The father tries to fix words and make signified united with signifiers but to Lacan, this
      effort wouldn‟t lead anywhere because signified could be always floating and deferred from
      signifier. Everything is illusionary. In other terms, rationality & reason wouldn‟t be in control
      since the unconscious is there all the time despite the effort of the father to stabilize things.
      Refer to Jacques Lacan‟s article:
      In his discussion of the absolute division between the unconscious and the consciousness (or between id and
      ego), Freud introduces the idea of the human self, or subject, as radically split, divided between these two
      realms of conscious and unconscious. On the one hand, our usual (Western humanist) ideas of self or
      personhood are defined by operations of consciousness, including rationality, free will, and self-reflection. For
      Freud and for psychoanalysis in general, however, actions, thought, belief, and the concepts of "self" are all
      determined or shaped by the unconscious, and its drives and desires. Lacan reinterprets Freud in light of
      structuralist and post-structuralist theories, turning psychoanalysis from an essentially humanist philosophy or
      theory into a post-structuralist one. Freud's notion of the unconscious was one of the ideas that began to
      question, or to destabilize, that humanist ideal of the self; he was one of the precursors of post-structuralism in
      that regard. Freud's goal was to strengthen the ego, the „I‟ self & the conscious/rational identity, so it would be
      more powerful than the unconscious. [Yet, Lacan did not agree with Freud on strengthening the ego. For him,
      this project is impossible because the ego or „I‟ self is only an illusion, a product of the unconscious itself.]

                                                           39
For Lacan, this project is impossible. The ego can never take the place of the unconscious, or empty it out, or
control it, because, for Lacan, the ego or "I" self is only an illusion, a product of the unconscious itself. In
Lacanian psychoanalysis, the unconscious is the ground of all being. Lacan is interested in how the infant gets
this illusion we call a "self." His essay on the Mirror Stage describes that process, showing how the infant
forms an illusion of an ego, of a unified conscious self identified by the word "I." Central to the conception of
the human, in Lacan, is the notion that the unconscious, which governs all factors of human existence, is
structured like a language. He bases this on Freud's account of the two main mechanisms of unconscious
processes, condensation and displacement. Both are essentially linguistic phenomena, where meaning is either
condensed (in metaphor) or displaced (in metonymy) [benefiting thus from Jakobson]. Lacan says that the
contents of the unconscious are acutely aware of language, and particularly of the structure of language.
Lacan focuses on relations between signifiers alone. The elements in the unconscious--wishes, desires, images--
all form signifiers (and they're usually expressed in verbal terms), and these signifiers form a "signifying
chain"--one signifier has meaning only because it is not some other signifier. For Lacan, there are no
signifieds; there is nothing that a signifier ultimately refers to [to Lacan, language does not refer to reality].
Lacan says those relations of signification don't exist (in the unconscious, at least); rather, there are only the
negative relations, relations of value, where one signifier is what it is because it's not something else [this is
however what Saussure says].
Because of this lack of signifieds, Lacan says, the chain of signifiers--x=y=z=b=q=0=%=|=s (etc.)--is
constantly sliding and shifting and circulating. There is no anchor, nothing that ultimately gives meaning or
stability to the whole system. The chain of signifiers is constantly in play (in Derrida's sense); there's no way to
stop sliding down the chain--no way to say "oh, x means this," and have it be definitive. Rather, one signifier
only leads to another signifier, and never to a signified.
Lacan says this is what the unconscious looks like--a continually circulating chain (or multiple chains) of
signifiers, with no anchor--or, to use Derrida's terms, no center. This is Lacan's linguistic translation of Freud's
picture of the unconscious as this chaotic realm of constantly shifting drives and desires. Lacan, on the other
hand, says that the process of becoming an adult, a "self," is the process of trying to fix, to stabilize and to stop
the chain of signifiers so that a stable meaning--including the meaning of "I"--becomes possible. Though of
course Lacan says that this possibility is only an illusion; it is an image created by a misperception of the
relation between body and self. [This is what the father tries to do in order to link the signifiers with the
signified but unsuccessfully. In language, there is no single reading. Besides, we cannot make language present
reality truly according to the post-structuralists.]
Freud talks about the 3 stages of polymorphous perversity in infants: the oral, the anal, and the phallic; it's the
Oedipus complex and Castration complex that end polymorphous perversity and create "adult" beings. Lacan
creates different categories to explain a similar trajectory, from infant to "adult." He talks about 3 concepts--
need, demand, and desire--that roughly correspond to 3 phases of development, or 3 fields in which humans
develop--the Real, the Imaginary, and the Symbolic. The Symbolic realm, which is marked by the concept of
desire (I'll explain this in more detail later) is the equivalent of adulthood; or, more specifically for Lacan, the
Symbolic realm is the structure of language itself, which we have to enter into in order to become speaking
subjects, in order to say "I" and have "I" designate something which appears to be stable [language is a
substitute for the real].
In fact, the baby (for both Freud and Lacan) is a kind of blob, with no sense of self or individuated identity, and
no sense even of its body as a coherent unified whole. This baby-blob is driven by NEED. The baby, in this state
of NEED, doesn't recognize any distinction between itself and the objects that meet its needs; it doesn't
recognize that an object (like a breast) is part of another whole person (because it doesn't have any concept yet
of "whole person"). There's no distinction between it and anyone or anything else; there are only needs and
things that satisfy those needs.
This is the state of "nature," which has to be broken up in order for culture to be formed. This is true in both
Freud's psychoanalysis and in Lacan's: the infant must separate from its mother, form a separate identity, in
order to enter into civilization. That separation entails some kind of LOSS; when the child knows the difference
between itself and its mother, and starts to become an individuated being, it loses that primal sense of unity
(and safety/security) that it originally had. To become a civilized "adult" always entails the profound loss of an
original unity, a non-differentiation, a merging with others (particularly the mother). The baby who has not yet
made this separation exists in the realm of the REAL, according to Lacan. The Real is a place (a psychic
place, not a physical place) where there is this original unity. Because of that, there is no absence or loss or
lack; the Real is all fullness and completeness, where there's no need that can't be satisfied. And because there
is no absence or loss or lack, there is no language in the Real. Lacan says that language is always about loss or
absence; you only need words when the object you want is gone.

                                                      40
The Real, and the phase of need, last from birth till somewhere between 6 and 18 months [state of bliss],
when the baby blob starts to be able to distinguish between its body and everything else in the world. At this
point, the baby shifts from having needs to having DEMANDS. Demands are not satisfiable with objects; a
demand is always a demand for recognition from another, for love from another. The process works like this:
the baby starts to become aware that it is separate from the mother, and that there exist things that are not part
of it; thus the idea of "other" is created. (Note, however, that as yet the binary opposition of "self/other" doesn't
yet exist, because the baby still doesn't have a coherent sense of "self"). That awareness of separation, or the
fact of otherness, creates an anxiety, a sense of loss. The baby then demands a reunion, a return to that original
sense of fullness and non-separation that it had in the Real. But that is impossible, once the baby knows (and
this knowing, remember, is all happening on an unconscious level) that the idea of an "other" exists. The baby
demands to be filled by the other, to return to the sense of original unity; the baby wants the idea of "other" to
disappear. Demand is thus the demand for the fullness, the completeness, of the other that will stop up the lack
the baby is experiencing. But of course this is impossible, because that lack, or absence, the sense of
"other"ness, is the condition for the baby becoming a self/subject, a functioning cultural being. [The idea of
otherness starts to develop].
Because the demand is for recognition from the other, it can't really be satisfied, if only because the 6-to-18
month infant can't SAY what it wants. The baby cries, and the mother gives it a bottle, or a breast, or a pacifier,
but no object can satisfy the demand--the demand is for a response on a different level. The baby can't
recognize the ways the mother does respond to it, and recognize it, because it doesn't yet have a conception of
itself as a thing--it only knows that this idea of "other" exists, and that it is separate from the "other", but it
doesn't yet have an idea of what its "self" is.
Lacan says that at some point in this period, the baby will see itself in a mirror. It will look at its reflection and
then look back at a real person--its mother, or some other person--then look again at the mirror image [but this
image is illusionary]. The child moves "from insufficiency to anticipation" in this action; the mirror, and the
moving back and forth from mirror image to other people, gives it a sense that it, too, is an integrated being, a
whole person. The child, still unable to be whole, and hence separate from others (though it has this notion of
separation), in the mirror stage begins to anticipate being whole. It moves from a "fragmented body" to an
"orthopedic vision of its totality", to a vision of itself as whole and integrated, which is "orthopedic" because it
serves as a crutch, a corrective instrument, an aid to help the child achieve the status of wholeness. [Our image
of ourselves is a construct established by society or by the different situations we are in.]
What the child anticipates is a sense of self as a unified separate whole; the child sees that it looks like what
"others" look like. Eventually, this entity the child sees in the mirror, this whole being, will be a "self," the entity
designated by the word "I." What is really happening, however, is an identification that is MISRECOGNITION.
The child sees an image in the mirror; it thinks, that image is "ME". But it's NOT the child; it's only an image.
This process, of misrecognizing one's self in the image in the mirror, creates the EGO, the thing that says "I." In
Lacan's terms, this misrecognition creates the "armor" of the subject, an illusion or misperception of wholeness,
integration, and totality that surrounds and protects the fragmented body. To Lacan, ego, or self, or "I"dentity,
is always on some level a FANTASY, an identification with an external image, and not an internal sense of
separate whole identity.
This is why Lacan calls the phase of demand, and the mirror stage, the realm of the IMAGINARY. The idea of a
self is created through an Imaginary identification with the image in the mirror. The realm of the Imaginary is
where the alienated relation of self to its own image is created and maintained. The Imaginary is a realm of
images, whether conscious or unconscious. It's prelinguistic, and preoedipal, but very much based in visual
perception, or what Lacan calls specular imaging.
The mirror image, the whole person the baby mistakes as itself, is known in psychoanalytic terminology as an
"ideal ego," a perfect whole self who has no insufficiency. This "ideal ego" becomes internalized; we build our
sense of "self," our "I"dentity, by (mis) identifying with this ideal ego. By doing this, according to Lacan, we
imagine a self that has no lack, no notion of absence or incompleteness. The fiction of the stable, whole, unified
self that we see in the mirror becomes a compensation for having lost the original oneness with the mother's
body. In short, according to Lacan, we lose our unity with the mother's body, the state of "nature," in order to
enter culture, but we protect ourselves from the knowledge of that loss by misperceiving ourselves as not
lacking anything--as being complete unto ourselves.
The Imaginary is the psychic place, or phase, where the child projects its ideas of "self" onto the mirror image
it sees. The mirror stage cements a self/other dichotomy [we have now two instead of oneness], where
previously the child had known only "other," but not "self." According to Lacan, the notion of Otherness,
encountered in the Imaginary phase (and associated with demand), comes before the sense of "self," which is
built on the idea of Otherness.



                                                       41
When the child has formulated some idea of Otherness and of a self identified with its own "other," its own
mirror image, and then the child begins to enter the Symbolic realm. The Symbolic and the Imaginary are
overlapping, unlike Freud's phases of development; there's no clear marker or division between the two, and in
some respects they always coexist. The Symbolic order is the structure of language itself; we have to enter it in
order to become speaking subjects, and to designate ourselves by "I." The foundation for having a self lies in
the Imaginary projection of the self onto the specular image, the other in the mirror, and having a self is
expressed in saying "I," which can only occur within the Symbolic, which is why the two coexist.
The fort/da game [yoyo game] that the nephew played, in Freud's account, is in Lacan's view a marker of the
entry into the Symbolic, because Hans is using language to negotiate the idea of absence and the idea of
Otherness as a category or structural possibility.
The Other (capital O) is a structural position in the Symbolic order. It is the place that everyone is trying to get
to, to merge with, in order to get rid of the separation between "self" and "other." It is, in Derrida's sense, the
CENTER of the system, of the Symbolic and/or of language itself. As such, the Other is the thing to which every
element relates. But, as the center, the Other (again, not a person but a position) can't be merged with. Nothing
can be in the center with the Other, even though everything in the system (people, e.g.) want to be. So the
position of the Other creates and sustains a never-ending LACK, which Lacan calls DESIRE. Desire is the
desire to be the Other. By definition, desire can never be fulfilled: it's not desire for some object (which would
be need) or desire for love or another person's recognition of oneself (which would be demand), but desire to be
the center of the system, the center of the Symbolic, the center of language itself.
The center has a lot of names in Lacanian theory. It's the Other; it's also called the PHALLUS. Here's where
Lacan borrows again from Freud's original Oedipus theory. The mirror stage is pre-oedipal. The self is
constructed in relation to an other, to the idea of Other, and the self wants to merge with the Other. As in
Freud's world, the most important other in the child's life is the mother; so the child wants to merge with its
mother. In Lacan's terms, this is the child's demand that the self/other split be erased.
In Lacan's terms, the threat of castration is a metaphor for the whole idea of Lack as a structural concept. For
Lacan, it isn't the real father who threatens castration. Rather, because the idea of lack, or Lack, is essential to
the concept of language, because the concept of Lack is part of the basic structuration of language, the father
becomes a function of the linguistic structure. The Father, rather than being a person, becomes a structuring
principle of the Symbolic order.
For Lacan, Freud's angry father becomes the Name-of-the-Father, or the Law-of-the-Father, or sometimes just
the Law. Submission to the rules of language itself--the Law of the Father--is required in order to enter into the
Symbolic order. To become a speaking subject, you have to be subjected to, you have to obey, the laws and
rules of language. Lacan designates the idea of the structure of language, and its rules, as specifically paternal.
He calls the rules of language the Law-of-the-Father in order to link the entry into the Symbolic, the structure
of language, to Freud's notion of the Oedipus and castration complexes.
The Law-of-the-Father, or Name-of-the-Father, is another term for the Other, for the center of the system, the
thing that governs the whole structure--its shape and how all the elements in the system can move and form
relationships. This center is also called the PHALLUS, to underline even more the patriarchal nature of the
Symbolic order. The Phallus, as center, limits the play of elements, and gives stability to the whole structure.
The Phallus anchors the chains of signifiers which, in the unconscious, are just floating and unfixed, always
sliding and shifting. The Phallus stops play, so that signifiers can have some stable meaning. It is because the
Phallus is the center of the Symbolic order, of language, that the term "I" designates the idea of the self (and,
additionally, why any other word has stable meaning).
For instance, when Lacan analyzed Hamlet, he was mainly concerned with the language that
Hamlet uses; that is the ambiguities and the tropes of the play.
Refer to Jacques Lacan‟s 2nd article:
Page 123 → our images are all constructs fabricated by society.
Page 140 → Poe‟s “The Purloined letter”: The Queen receives a letter which she wanted to
hide from the King. She hides it when he enters into the room but the minister noticed; so he
replaced the letter. She wanted back and asked the police to look for it. The minister left it at
his desk because if hidden it is found. A detective helped the police and found the letter and
replaced it with another. The content of letters is never revealed. They were all busy with the
signifier; that is the letter.


                                                      42
                             Session 14 – Wednesday April 08, 2009
              LACAN’S PSYCHOANALYTIC APPROACH – In Practice
Frost‟s “Mending Wall” is a poem that can be analyzed applying the French psychoanalyst
Jacques Lacan [1901-1981] who speaks of two stages of life: the first being the early childhood
with the attachment to the mother and no separate identity, a state of bliss where the child can
satisfy all its needs without prohibitions. This is called the imaginary stage of life. When the
child grows up, he enters the second stage where he begins forming a separate identity and enters
the symbolic order of the father, the world of demarcation and of laws. He separates himself
from the mother and learns the rules from his father while becoming a member of society but
forever longing for his early stage of life of bliss and happiness. According to critics of the
poem, the speaker longs to be united with his mother or to go back to the imaginary stage – the
stage of life where there is no boundaries and no laws whereas the neighbor who sticks to rules
and wants to keep the wall is considered to be in the symbolic stage of the father where
everything is governed by patriarchy, rules and laws, thus we can picture in this poem the two
attitudes towards life.
On the other hand, in Adrienne Rich‟s poem “Diving into the Wreck” there is a lady who decides
to learn how to dive so she tells us how she is trying to learn and shows us the difficulties. The
“wreck” here is the female tradition of writing that had been hidden under water and that has not
been recovered. However, the poet was looking for such lost and hidden works of art and hopes
to be able to recover and rediscover them and then save them from being lost [feminist reading].
In the last three stanzas, she starts to speak of „she and he‟ as being one [androgenic as if she is
acquiring a male-female identity]. She hopes afterward not to be alone and a male character
would help her.
                   Mermaid / merman
                                            Female and male identity (imaginary stage)
                   I am she / I am he
She is longing to be in the imaginary stage where no discrimination or differentiation between
male and female is evident. It becomes more of a collective work before dichotomy, antithesis
and separation.
                                     MYTH CRITICISM
Myth is very important; it is seen in Ancient culture mainly in primitive cultures as if the
primitive people coped with their world and environment through myth. Whatever phenomena
they could not understand, they came up with a myth to explain it or to understand it.
We have many myths of creation of the individual, a number of myths dealing with death and
afterlife, some dealing with natural phenomena and others dealing with human relations …
Myths are to be taken seriously; they embody truth – in a way how people viewed things in
certain periods of history.
Mainly anthropologists and psychologists dealt with myth study as well as some philosophers.
Myth studies flourished starting in the 19th century and continued till now.
1. They all found out that myth is communal since it unites people and since it is a product of a
   community and therefore it is needed for this unity.
2. They all found out that myth is universal in the sense that similar archetypes and myths are
   found in all cultures. In all myths, „archetype‟ is then the keyword.
James Frazer is one of the major myth scholars. He wrote The Golden Bough starting with 2
volumes and ending with 12 volumes and then he published an abridged edition in one volume.
He collected in his book all types of myths and what we call fertility myths taken from the Near
East. To him, fertility was very important in human life [rain was vital; agriculture and crops was
important for survival]. So people developed certain rituals in early history related to fertility.
                                                43
On the other hand, the King was divine; the welfare of the king was closely related to the welfare
of the state. When the King is healthy, the state is healthy and when the King is weak, the state is
also weak. Sexuality and potency was considered as related to fertility.
Allan Tate says: “Myth is to be defined as a complete of stories, some fact, and some fantasies.”
Therefore, Myth reflects fantasy rather than reality. It is communal because it deals with a nation
rather than one individual. That is, it reflects the mentality of the nation. In classical Greek,
mythos signifies any story or plot whether true or false. In its modern significance, a myth is one
story in a mythology - a system of heredity stories which were once believed to be true by a
certain well-cultured group or a nation and which served to explain why the world is as it is and
things happen as they do, and to establish the criteria for social customs and observances and the
sanctions for the rules by which men conduct their lives. The Greek mythologies include stories
about God and deities. As a result, Myth is collective because it talks about the memories of a
nation, tribe or people, and it is communal for it ties the nation together in common philosophical
and spiritual activities. Mythology is then a religion that no one believed in any longer.
Archetypes: are the themes and motifs that are common to all people. They are universal
symbols that are not located within certain boundaries, but they extend to the whole world. An
archetype is then a prototype [ideal form] regarded as a pattern not to be changed. Example,
water is a universal symbol, and also God is for all people. Moreover, white as a symbol of
purity is admitted by all nations. Note that death is not the end but a sign of rebirth [cycle of life].
This was central and it seems according to another critic that many plays written in early history
was based in such a myth [fertility]. In Modern times, poets like Eliot tried to do the same things.
Eliot‟s Waste Land lacks life and fertility and is waiting for a savior. At the end of the poem, we
see rain and hope for a new life. Besides, to Eliot, modern culture is a waste land since it is dead
physically and spiritually. However, he hopes for this culture some revival and a new birth.
This theory is then derived from the psychology of Jung who applied the term archetype to
primordial images and to the psychic residue of repeated types of experience in the lives of our
very ancient ancestors which Jung said: “Are inherited in the collective unconscious of the
human race and are expressed in myths, religion, dreams and private fantasies as well as works
of literature.” The death rebirth theme is often said to be the archetype of the archetypes and is
held to be grounded in the cycle of seasons and the organic cycle of human life (birth, growth,
death). This archetype informs primitive rituals to the sacrificial king. Myth of God who dies to
be born is present in diverse literary works including the Bible, Dante, Divine Comedy and
Coleridge‟s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Among other archetypal themes, images and
characters are the journey underground, the search for the father and the fatal woman. Some
examples of archetypes are:
-   Sun ↔ Creative energy, eternity
-   Garden ↔ Fertility, paradise and unspoiled beauty.
-   Circle ↔ Continuity and perfection
-   Egg ↔ Mystery of life and forces of generation / Tree of life ↔ growth and immortality.
-   Desert ↔ nihilism, death and helplessness.
-   Water ↔ Purity and mystery of creation – birth, death, resurrection.
-   Serpent ↔ Energy or evil, distraction & corruption, libido, wisdom and sensuality.
-   Ouroboros ↔ Snake biting its tail [Primordial Unconscious or the eternal cycle of life]
-   Terrible mother ↔ Witch, whore / Good mother ↔ Earth
-   Wise old man ↔ Savior, redeeming
-   Soil mate ↔ Sophia figure, Holy Mother / Archetypal woman ↔ Great mother.
-   Guru ↔ Spiritual teacher that stands for knowledge
-   Red ↔ passion and sacrifice / white ↔ purity, innocence and death
-   Black ↔ chaos, death and the unconscious                                      Colors
-   Green ↔ growth, fertility & decay / blue ↔ security & spiritual purity
-   3 ↔ Spiritual unconscious, awareness & unity
-   4 ↔ Female principle, life cycle in nature & Earth         Numbers
-   7 ↔ Completion of a cycle, perfection & order
                                                       44
Some Archetypal Motifs & Patterns: Hero Archetypes ↔ Archetypes of transformation &
Redemption / Creation ↔ how the cosmos, nature and humankind were brought into
existence by some supernatural beings / Immortality ↔ escaping from time.
Psychology and Mythology:
The chapter discusses the connection between the psychological and the mythological
criticism and sets the differences between the two. Both are concerned with human
behavior, but each on a different level.
1. Mythology goes beyond the individual. This contradicts psychology, which reflects
   individuality (thinking) of man. Psychological criticism probes / explores the individual
   personality while mythological criticism studies the character of a group of people in a
   society. Psychology belongs to one individual while mythology belongs to a nation.
2. Psychology tends to be experimental, biological and diagnostic. The psychiatrist studies
   the individual, his history and mentality to solve the problem. Psychology is
   experimental, biological and diagnostic whereas mythology is speculative /
   theoretical and introspective / reflective.
3. Psychology is related to biological science. Mythology doesn‟t deal with biology, but it
   deals with philosophy (mind). Mythology tends to be speculative and philosophical. It
   deals with the relationship between man and God / nature. It is not tangible, and in this
   sense it is speculative and philosophical. It deals with man‟s presence in the world. The
   affinities (connections) of mythology are: religion, history, and anthropology. All these
   are related to man‟s presence in past (history), present (anthropology) and future
   (religion / past, present, future). Therefore, Psychology is individualistic while
   mythology goes beyond the tangible world. Psychoanalysis reveals the individual
   personality while mythology reveals the mind and the character of a nation.
4. Dreams belong to psychology. They reflect the unconscious desires of the individual.
   Myth is a symbolic projection of the people’s hopes, values and aspirations.

Myth Criticism in Practice
Mythical Elements in Hamlet: (Pages 168 … 175)
Frazer, in his thesis, says then that man‟s wants are the same everywhere. Frazer‟s main
concern is the archetype of crucifixion and resurrection. Christ was crucified and then he was
resurrected. The ruler among primitive people was divine. In other words, the ruler must be
strong and healthy and therefore, he must obey because he is responsible for the prosperity of
the country (their welfare). He keeps order in the country. If the king is weak, then he leads the
country to chaos and destruction. From here comes the theory of the divine rights of kings in
the 17th Century. Kings take their authority from God.
When we say Hamlet is an archetype, this means that Shakespeare was not the first who
worked on Hamlet. The story of Hamlet was taken from the Old Scandinavian story of
Amelehtus or Amlet, Prince of Jutland – Denmark in the 12th century. Critics such as Murray
cite an even earlier passing reference to the prototypal Hamlet in a Scandinavian poem
composed in about 980 A.D. Thus, Shakespeare‟s play is mythic, because the prototype is
taken from Scandinavian mythology. He even borrowed the plots from Greek mythology and
worked on them and created characters that became immortal.
The stories: Hamlet, Oedipus, and Agamemnon are taken from Greek mythology and are
developed into plays. Oedipus for example killed his father and married his mother (refer to
page 170, the plot of Oedipus). The Sphinx is a mythical creature.


                                              45
1. Oedipus is related to this myth.
2. Divine order of kings, example, in Hamlet we have kings of Europe emanating their
   power from God; they are given will and power to govern their countries. The Tudor
   Kings believed in this theory of divine kingship. They governed their countries
   according to this theory.
Henry VIII broke with Rome and established the Anglican Church. The divine theory of kings
was borrowed from mythology. The Pope is divine and so the kings are divine by following the
Pope. Hence, they exercised their influence and governed people as they wished and they
cannot be responsible for their acts, because they were divine.
In primitive societies, the ruler has the supremacy over other members of society. He is related
to order. He can create order in society and bring happiness to the tribe. This divine authority
extended to Europe later on. Hamlet was a ruler and had a divine authority. Since the king
stands for order, welfare and progress, any disruption of this will bring disorder and chaos. If a
king is killed as in Hamlet, this brings disorder to the country. So, when a king dies, another
comes to establish order. These are in archetypes: the heads of tribes have the supremacy. If
the king gets weak, they get rid of him and a stronger one replaces him. This is the rebirth
cycle of life. In mythology, there was a scapegoat for the welfare of people. Instead of killing
the king they kill an animal. Hamlet was a scapegoat. He was killed after which order was
established in Denmark. When we see Hamlet first, we do not see a normal being. His mother‟s
hasty incestuous remarriage to her husband‟s brother has shocked Hamlet. He hates and
despises his uncle. In his mind, his uncle represents a strong contrast to his lovely god-like
father [at least through his eyes]. Hamlet is melancholic and blames his uncle for his state.
Therefore, he decided not to live in this corrupt world. Critics like Murray and Fergusson
believe that Hamlet represents a scapegoat to the prosperity of Denmark, because he dies for its
sake. Critics drew a comparison / contrast between Oedipus & Hamlet. Murray & Fergusson
reveal the resemblance of scenes between Hamlet & Oedipus. [There is a royal sufferer
associated with pollution in both plays. They both start by prayers for the state, the destiny of
the society are intertwined. The suffering of the royal victim is necessary before purgation.]
Page 169 Instead of killing the king literally, they kill him symbolically by killing substitutes.
By killing the scapegoat, they reach the stage of atonement.
Page 173 Cutting off in succession of kings brings disorder as in Hamlet. Claudius is weak
because he is corrupt. He brought corruption into the country and to banish him restores order
to the country.
Page 174 According to succession of kings, Hamlet should be king but Claudius changed the
order after killing his brother. Hamlet sacrifices himself and that is why he becomes a cathartic
agent; he becomes a tragic hero in order to make his country Denmark gains its order. He
killed Claudius.
Carl Gustave Jung (Freud’s disciple), the Jungian psychology and its archetypal insights
The second major influence on mythological criticism is the work of C. G. Jung, the great
psychologist-philosopher who was at one time Freud‟s student and follower, but split with him
in 1912 over the conception of the exact nature of the Libido since he related myth criticism to
psychology and disagreed with Freud on the over emphasis of sexuality and unhealthy
pathological psychological states. In this respect, he differed from Freud who emphasized
dream while Jung emphasized myth instead. If dreams are the product of the individual
unconscious, myths are the product of the collective or racial unconscious. If dreams are an
outlet for our desires, anxieties and fears, myths are the outlet of the collective anxieties and
fears. Jung came up with the term archetype or universal symbols and motifs. According to
Jung, there is a close relationship between myth and literature. Moreover, the unconscious of
the writer is the link between both. They reflect a more profound reality.
                                               46
One of the two chief contributions of Jung‟s system, which he called analytical psychology,
was his concept of persona and its opposite anima.
 -   Persona is then the mask which the conscious mind is and through which he confronts the world.
 -   Anima is a force contrary to the persona [it is the soul image of the individual]; its role is to show
     every outward behavior of the human.
Thus, a kind of dialectal opposition is set up within the individual, which, if not properly
resolved, results in frustration and neurosis.
Anima: It is the feminine inner personality as preserved in the male psyche. Jung points out
that the “anima-image is usually projected upon women”. Anima, according to him, is a
mediator between the ego and the unconscious or inner world of the male individual.
Persona: It is the observer of the anima in that it mediates between the ego / the conscious will
and the external world. It is the actors‟ mask that we show to the external world. It is our social
individuality. It differs from our real personality. It is a veil. In this sense, we have to see this
persona in “Young Goodman Brown.” Brown‟s persona is both false and inflexible because it
is the social mask of God fear. It is the persona of good man with all its pious connotations.
Individuation: It is a process through which one is different from the others [having a distinct
personality]. In other words, it is a psychological growing up i.e. a maturity process towards
achieving his self-realization. Jung‟s theory of individuation is related to those archetypes
designated as the shadow, the persona and the anima.
 -   Flat characters remain the same; they are static and do not develop.
 -   Round characters develop and become mature.
If man fears to achieve maturity, this causes neurosis and frustration and therefore some
problems and imbalance are created during his life journey.
The Anima reflects the female side in the male‟s psyche opposite to animus that reflects the
masculine side in the female‟s psyche. The Anima is the mediator between the ego and the
unconscious-self or the inner-world of the male individual whereas the Persona is the mediator
between the ego and the external world. On the other hand, the shadow is the darker side of our
unconscious self, the inferior and less pleasing aspects of the personality, which we wish to
suppress (Id). In melodrama, the persona, the anima and the shadow are projected respectively
in the characters of the hero, the heroine and the villain.
Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”: A Failure of Individuation
Hawthorne in “Young Goodman Brown” tells us about the two sides of man – good and bad.
Brown fails to establish his own identity. He is described as a naïve character who accepts life
as it is. This simpleminded man is confronted with the vision of the devil that could shake his
faith. This tempts to seduce this reluctant man to a witch meeting. Gradually, we see that the
devil undermines Brown‟s faith in religion and in the existence of God. He even shakes his
faith in the religious institutions. The devil also allures Goody Cloyse – a pious woman and a
moral advisor. She is shown to have more than a casual acquaintance with the devil. Goodman
fails in his individuation as a normal being. Brown‟s anima fails in relating to his inner world,
as his persona has proved inadequate in mediating between the ego and the external world. It is
only fitting that his social image or anima should be named Faith. He sees Faith not as a wife
but as a mother. Jung points out that, during childhood, anima is projected on the mother. Thus,
“Brown clings to his wife‟s skirts and follows her to Heaven”.
Northrope Frye is the most sophisticated myth critic who related literary genres to mythology.
He talks in his book Anatomy of Criticism about four correspondent genres for the four seasons
and believes that the main principle of both the literary form and the archetype works are
essential to develop one‟s experience.
                                                  47
                              Session 15 – Wednesday April 22, 2009
                              MYTH CRITICISM – In Practice
* Hawthorne‟s „Young Goodman Brown‟ is applied according to Jung‟s mythological Approach.
  Individuation is the natural process of human maturation; it is an innate activity of the psyche
  to integrate.
 The analysis of this short story based upon Jung‟s theory of shadow, anima and persona shows
 that Brown‟s persona is false: it is the social mask of a man who has faith in God, a self-
 righteous Puritan, while in truth he is sees Faith, not as a wife or a true companion, but as a
 mother (Jung points out that, during childhood, anima is usually projected on the mother).
 That‟s why he thinks that he “will cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven.” In other words,
 if a young man‟s Faith has the qualities of the Good Mother, then he might expect to be
 occasionally indulged in his juvenile escapades.
 Therefore, Young Goodman Brown suffers from a failure of individuation, failure of
 personality integration because he‟s unable to confront his shadow, recognize it as a part of his
 own psyche and assimilate it into his consciousness. He persists, instead, in projecting the
 shadow image: first in the form of the Devil; then on the members of his community (Goody
 Cloyse, Deacon Gookin and others); and finally on Faith herself, so that ultimately, in his eyes
 much less the good man than the bad boy. His behavior throughout the story is that of an
 adolescent male: he fails to recognize himself and is unable to see his base motives. This is an
 indication of his spiritual immaturity.
 Just as his persona proves inadequate in mediating between Brown‟s ego and the external
 world, so his anima fails in relating to his inner world. It is only fitting that his soul-image or
 anima should be named Faith. His trouble is that he, the whole world is one of shadow or
 gloom.
 *Individuation is the natural process of human maturation. It is an innate tendency of the
 psyche to achieve total integration. We have no choice about whether we individuate, any more
 than we had a choice about going through puberty. What we can choose to do is to cooperate
 with the underlying inevitable tendency, and thus save ourselves a great deal of pain, anguish,
 embarrassment, and a variety of psychological disorders.
 People who have advanced towards individuation, besides being physically and mentally
 healthy, are harmonious, mature and responsible. They promote freedom and justice. They
 have a good understanding about the workings of human nature and the universe.
 The individuation process begins with becoming conscious of the Persona, the mask we take
 on in our every day life. After this we become conscious of the Shadow, the repressed
 characteristics of the ego. Then we become conscious of the Anima, the inner woman in each
 man, or the Animus, the inner man in each woman. These phases are not necessarily chronological
 in order or separated from each other. They can overlap each other or run parallel.



                                                         Goodman Brown: persona [false since
                                                         he fails to integrate into the outside world].
                                                         The devil: shadow
                                                         Faith: anima
                                                         However, Brown suffers from a failure of
                                                         individuation.



                                                   48
* In Shakespeare‟s Hamlet, there are several myths:
 1. Myth of divine ordination appointed to the king by God.
 2. Myth of scapegoat (Hamlet) → dying in order to save his kingdom.
 3. Myth of initiation [Hamlet going through many experiences was initiated to maturity].
* Marvell‟s “To his Coy Mistress”:
 Marvell is one of the metaphysical poets considered to be wit poets. In his poem “To his Coy
 Mistress”, Marvell mentions in line 5 the Indian Gangs – a river which symbolizes Redemption
 and Purification. Moreover, the flood of Noah symbolizes death and birth resurrection while
 the image of desert reveals skepticism and uncertainty. Time symbolizes immortality and ashes
 reveal death.
 1. There is an attempt to reach some kind of fantasy immortality through imagination and
    fantasy.
 2. Natural time
 3. Another way to escape mortality is through the circle.
* Alice Walker‟s “Everyday Use”:
 This is a recent short story of a mother telling her story in the 1st person. It describes how
 women in the Black South were as men doing physical work. As with most stories about
 Blacks, the father is absent. Maggie‟s personality is like her mother‟s but Dee‟s is the very
 opposite and because she is not satisfied with her life with her sister and mother, she moves to
 the city and changes her looks and her name. When Dee returns to visit them with her
 boyfriend, it feels exotic, like going to a museum. She wanted to take many hand made items
 with her to decorate her house in the city. Quilts are very important to the mother and feels that
 Dee wouldn‟t use them properly and would hang them on a wall. By doing this, she is
 distancing herself from her heritage. Maggie in contrast, would put them to everyday use
 which is more important than simply using them to decorate a wall. Dee has very little
 knowledge of her traditional roots; though she has taken on a new name that she says is purely
 African, the name „Dee‟ goes back a long way in her family and in it lies her true African
 heritage. The quilt and many other items signify family heritage that the mother continues to
 preserve the same way Maggie does. Besides, the archetype of the good mother who protects
 her family is symbol of the Earth Mother.
 Page 177:
 Jung combines mythology and psychology. He came up with the collective unconscious. Myth,
 to him, is the equivalent of dream. Myth is the product of the collective unconscious whereas
 dream is the product of the individual unconscious. Moreover, the term „archetype‟ was coined
 and discussed by Jung.
 Page 180: A definition of „Individuation‟ is provided
 We need to recognize the shadow in us [very similar to the Id] otherwise we will project it on
 others. On the other hand, the anima is very important; it is the life force or vital image.
 Moreover, it is the most complex of Jung‟s archetypes.
 Page 182:
 Persona is the mask that we wear showing to the outside world or what we call the observed
 anima.




                                               49
                           Session 16 – Wednesday April 29, 2009
                           MYTH CRITICISM – In Practice
What are the sections to include in our term paper?
 1- Thesis Statement
    What is your argument?
 2- Literature Review
    It includes what has been said about our topic in references to articles we are using.
 3- Methodology
    Broad outline
 4- Bibliography: Articles and Books

Refer to Dr. Atif Faddul’s article “The Mythical Method in the Waste Land”:
There is a discussion of myth and employment in literature from the rose son with more
emphasis on the modern era.
Page 59: he listed the main tenets of myth:
 1- As if myth is the product of the human unconscious
 2- Literary works are that are found in myth
 3- Both creative writers and critics profited from insights of myths and rewrote myths.
According to Jung, the mythical dimension attracts us to the work of art. Eliot took one of this
myth and considered it as a framework to his work The Waste Land. The modern world is a
spiritual, physical waste land witnessing sterility and finally reaching some hope of revival
through the rain in the last part. There is some hope that the modern world would be saved by
this rain.
Moreover, through archetypes and symbols, we can guess that Eliot is referring to the modern
world as a waste land. He is structuring his whole work on the myth. Myth becomes thus the
framework for the literary work.

                                FEMINIST CRITICISM
Feminist Criticism is a synthesis of many approaches; when we start with it, we must be
familiar with post structuralism and psycho analytic criticism.
Feminism:[broader title]
Throughout history, men were in power [maybe because physical power was needed more] so
they dominated women and fabricated negative images of women as marginal, subordinate,
deficient physically and mentally, evil, seductive and sensual … to keep them under control
and to make them serve men. This continues for a long time but some women throughout
history challenged men. Starting in the 19th century, some women and enlightened men started
to question this image and to seek women‟s equal rights. They organized themselves and
worked to get their rights. Eventually, after a long struggle women were allowed to vote, to
have jobs and do drive cars … However, there are still places where women are under control
In the field of writing, women were not allowed to write and they were not even considered to
be qualified for writing. They considered that writing is a male domain. Gradually, due to the
efforts of feminist and feminism, writings of women became more read and taught.
Feminist criticism has two trends:
1st Feminist Critique: Women as Readers
2nd Feminist Critique: Women as Writers
                                              50
I- Women as Readers: Female critics would read male writings to highlight the stereotypical
   images of women and to show how men presented distorted images of female. In this
   sense, we have a great number of books written by feminist critics that have exposed
   sexism in male and showed how writers were biased and not objective.
   Below are some examples of what men said of women? [Selden page 121]
   Aristotle declared that a female is an imperfect man while John Donne considered that
   male is matter and female is form. Even Nietzsche believed that women should be treated
   as possessions, should be caged and that women are failures in the kitchen and if they seek
   education it is only to add to their make up. To him, women are only for pleasure. Even up
   till now some people believe in that.
II- Women as Writers:
   Feminists were more concerned with discovering, republishing, reevaluating and analyzing
   female writings since they were considered inferior because men came up with the criteria
   of evaluation of works of literature based on male writings. They wanted to come up with
   new criteria derived from female writings in order to reevaluate such works and prove that
   they are as effective as male writings. For instance, Kate Chopin is an American writer who
   wrote The Awakening which was not well received when it was first published and was
   forgotten for about 30 years when female writers reevaluate it later as a great work of
   American literature and include it in the Anthology of English Classic.
   Elaine Showalter considers that female writings are grouped into 3 phases: [Selden p. 135]
   1. Feminine (1840 - 1880) is the early stage of Feminism where women imitated men
      using pennames and tried to write like men to satisfy men readers.
   2. Feminist (1880-1920): in this period, females become more radical to the extent of
      advocating separate world and life for women. They even protested against men.
   3. Female (1920-1960): In this phase and after they got many rights, they started to
      rediscover themselves and to look at themselves as women different than men neither
      imitating nor protesting.
   Another way of approaching Feminist Criticism is to speak of:
      1st wave (Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir)
      2nd wave of feminist criteria
   Virginia Woolf is a 20th century British writer who came from an upper middle class
   family. She didn‟t have the chance to be educated like her brother although talented but she
   educated herself at home until she became a famous writer. Her husband supported female
   rights and encouraged her to write. Accordingly, she was able to write many novels among
   which Mrs. Dalloway. She felt that women were not treated equally in all matters of life so
   she wrote two books that deal with feminist issues.
   A Room of One‟s Own is a book in which she argues that women‟s writings should deal
   with female experiences and where a woman can realize her potentials with a space of
   freedom and without being an appendix to men.
   Three Guineas is another book that deals with this issue of women‟s disadvantage in salary
   and the relationship between male power and profession. Hence, the image of woman
   should be cultural and not natural; it has nothing to do with the female body. Gender is not
   equal to sex. She suffered from this discrimination so she took male hormones aiming to
   have a neutral identity – an androgenic identity. Some later feminists blamed her for this
   behavior while others defended her stand. However, she suffered greatly because of her
   over-sensitivity and committed suicide drowning herself.

                                            51
Simone de Beauvoir is also an important pioneer French feminist critic. She wrote many
books and edited many journals that defended women rights. She was a great friend to Jean
Paul Sartre, but her most important work is The Second Sex. In this book, she tries to
explain why women were marginalized throughout history from early times to the present.
Many consider it as the Bible of feminism. According to her, „male‟ in the past stood for
male and human whereas „female‟ is always negative. Language has been sexist so we need
to straighten it. Moreover, Simone de Beauvoir compared the situation of women to the
situation of other minorities – Black, Jews, and Proletarians … According to her there are
many similarities since they are all persecuted: Black by White; Proletarians by Bourgeois;
Jews by Europeans and Female by Male. However, women‟s case was the most difficult
because it was impossible for women to revolt against their husband, father or brother …
It is for the interest of both men and women and for the society at large to have equality. If
they are oppressed, they will not be happy at home and create problems within their
families. Besides, they can find ways to revenge so it is better to give up this struggle and
to reach mutual understanding and respect. She was accused of being extremist but if we
read carefully she is not. To her, we have differences from the way we raise our children at
home. From the early childhood, we have to treat them as equal and in this way we
wouldn‟t have this discrimination. It is all cultural; woman, to her, is not born a woman but
made a woman by culture. [Refer to Selden p. 127 where she distinguishes between sex and
gender]
The 2nd Wave of Feminism 1950 – 1960 and on is very multiple and varied since we have
much varieties, much controversies and many trends. It talks of all kinds of feminism –
American Feminism, British Feminism and French Feminism. One major controversy is
whether there are a female identity and female characteristics that could be reflected in
literature. In other words, by not reading the name of the writer we can find out whether the
writing belongs to a woman or to a man. Accordingly, they wanted female writers to
highlight these characteristics in their writings more and more and not to hide them.
Another group of mainly French feminists wanted to deconstruct this Male / Female
dichotomy. To them, some men could write like women and vice versa. According to them,
they [Julia Kristie and others] use semiotics instead of Lacan‟s imaginary mother stage.
     Man stands for Symbolic
     Woman for Semiotic
When you write with flexibility, with malleability and dialogically without abiding by rules
with more open ended style then you are writing like a woman. Modernist writings, to
them, are then more female but when you write rigidly with rules and grammar in a
monologic style with closed endings then you are writing like a man.
On the other hand, those who consider that women feelings are reflected in their works
were called essentialists whereas the second group is labeled as constructionists.




                                          52
                             Session 17 – Wednesday May 06, 2009
                                 FEMINIST CRITICISM
The school is diverse and multiple; we would rather use the term „Feminisms‟. Throughout the
use of feminisms, we study the deviations in literary theory in the last fifty years. They
benefited from Psycho Analytic Criticism, Traditional Approach, Post Structuralism, Post
Modernism and Marxism …
In this section, we will deal with the chapters in two different books and the three selected
articles which provide an introduction to feminism:
Refer to Selden page 211:
1. Biology: In the past, men privileged their bodies and considered female‟s body as weak and
   deficient through menstruation and birth, but feminist critics in the 2nd Wave argued against
   and wanted to prove that this is not a negative point. For instance, child birth is positive
   since it includes sufferings that maybe men cannot tolerate.
2. Experimentation: They celebrate the feminism attributes and differences.
3. Discourse: Language has been sexist for a long time so Feminist Critics have trying to
   straighten things and make language less sexist, less biased but there is debate whether we
   could come up with a language for female [flexible] and one for male [rigid].
4. Psychology [Unconscious]: Feminists dealt with Freud and Lacan‟s theories and seemed to
   be more concerned with male sexuality than with female sexuality – Oedipus [rules – rigid]
   versus Electra complex [flexibility – openness].
   Showalter said that women write differently from men because they have different
   experiences, but French feminists did not agree with her. For the French, we cannot
   distinguish between female writers and male writers but between a female way of writing
   and a male way of writing.
   In the Anglo-American, female writings are in relation to females‟ experiences. To them,
   what is feminist is whatever defies the rigidity of patriarchy.
   Refer to Selden p. 214:
   Kate Millett wrote a pioneering book Sexual Politics which deals with stereotypical images
   of women in male writings (Conrad, Joyce and many others); she proves that all men are
   prejudiced in presenting women in their writings. She was even accused of being radical
   and going into extremes and some women were not happy or satisfied with her writings and
   her attitude.
5. Marxist Feminism:
   Marxists relate literature to culture, ideology, economic conditions etc. – even when
   Marxist Feminists discuss women writings they relate them to the material conditions in
   which women wrote. However, this depends on who is evaluating such writings. Literature
   is fiction and when reading it we should be aware that it is fiction and not history. Besides,
   books might be read differently according to the reader. Marxist Feminism developed over
   time.
Refer to Elaine Showalter page 218: She is an American critic and has been very influential
trying to rediscover and reevaluate the works of women. She insists that there is something that
distinguishes female writings from male writings.
Refer to page 220: French feminism is the most sophisticated where the focus was on
language; culture to them was more important. It has nothing to do with the image or the body
of a women but it has to do with culture or with who is in power and in control of language and
culture.
                                              53
Refer to page 221 … 222:
Some feminists did not blame Freud; among them is Juliette Mitchell who defended Freud
because he reflected the culture that he loved. The connotation of the word woman has nothing
to do with biology of woman but all is cultural. To the French feminists, the battle is to be won
by language. In order to unify it as one, we need to straighten it by making it less sexist and
less biased and all will be fine.
Cixous came up with the terms symbolic [relating to men‟s writings as rigid with rules,
grammar and closeness] and semiotic for imaginary [relating the writings by women to the
early stage of life before the onset of patriarchy such as Modernist writings]. To Cixous, men
and women could write both symbolically and semiotically. She asked women to free their
bodies from taboos, repression and restrictions and write with their instincts.
Refer to Guerin page 196 … 197:
Our culture is patriarchal and serves the benefit of man. Feminist Critics have contributed
greatly to women. A major debate in feminism is that some want to keep differences that
distinguish females while others want to deconstruct these dichotomies.
Page 206 film theory:
Some movies explicit the female body and are intended for the male. Some feminists have
even profited from mythical criticism to show that early goddesses were females, but later
these turned into witches and men became in power.
                                      Feminism in Practice
A Feminist Reading to Andrew Marvell‟s “To his Coy Mistress”
A Feminist Reading to Alice Walker‟s “Everyday Use”
Black women have their own problems other than white women. They suffered double from
Sexism and Racism. Because Black men were oppressed by white men, they were frustrated so
either they turned their anger towards their sisters, wives and daughters or they deserted their
families. Therefore, the mother becomes the mother and the father and plays the roles of both.
In this short story, the mother plays the role of a preserver of black tradition. For instance, the
quilt which is hand-made is symbolic of tradition and this is why she won‟t allow Dee to take
them. However, women are not silenced but are in power at home.
A Feminist Reading to Hawthorne‟s “Young Goodman Brown”
Hawthorne was not a sexist writer. He was closely attached to his mother. In fact, he presents a
good female example in The Scarlet Letter (Hester Prynn). However, Faith in Young Goodman
Brown is not a round tri-dimensional character but she is more like a flat character. With her
allegorical name, Faith is silent and the only thing she asks her husband to do is not to go to the
forest. The tale is a psycho-sexual tale. Brown rejects his wife to go after the father-figure
represented by the devil. Brown is neglecting his wife and is seeking other relationships
elsewhere. Brown sees women as either as angels and innocents or as devilish and temptress.
Accordingly, women are victimized in the story.




                                               54
                            Session 18 – Wednesday May 13, 2009
The articles to be studied were published in 1999.
Article 1: “Introduction: „Feminist Paradigms‟ by Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan
In the 1970‟s, people wondered why there is feminist criticism. Nowadays, they wonder why
there is not one. Feminist critics coined 6 terms:
      Prescriptive criticism versus playful pluralism
      Gynecritics versus gynesis
      Essentialism versus constructuralism
Article 2: “Towards Definitions of Feminist Writing” by Mary Eagleton
What makes a book a feminist work?
1) The book doesn‟t have to highlight women‟s experience. One might write about women‟s
   issues without being a feminist critic. However, this is not enough; it is not what you write
   but how you write it that makes it a feminist work.
2) One might intend to write a feminist work but not be knowledgeable or convincing enough.
3) It is also not enough to be a reader in order to be a feminist writer.
One type of Feminist Criticism is prescriptive: it dictates one some instructions on how to be a
feminist critic. To Register, Feminist critics should be political and defend women‟s rights.
This imposing on critics is dogmatic. Prescriptive criticism assumes that there is one only
reading of a text. Some feminists disagree, believing in pluralism of the same reading; playful
pluralism. Kolodny believes that feminist criticism is one way of criticizing a work of art.
However, some feminist criticism disagreed and believed that there are still some limits.
Gynocriticism is Elaine Showalter‟s view: Women‟s experiences are different and unique and
are reflected in their writings because of biological differences. Showalter wants to come up
with criteria for evaluation derived from female and not male writings. Can we benefit from
male writings or should we reject them totally? Showalter was not ready for that.
Gynesis: It benefits from different schools – linguistic, postmodernist and psycho-analytic. To
speak of female experience and history is questionable. To them, there is no history. Gynesis
discovers “woman” as absence; it questions the dichotomies between man and woman. These
are fabricated and yet if we speak of female experiences they are not all the same (Black,
Hispanic, Third world …). There is no universal woman. Showalter disagrees; she is not ready
to benefit from male writings. Prescriptive criticism is very similar to Marxist criticism or
Social realism: literature should serve the working classes versus literature should serve
women‟s rights.
Article 3: “Introduction: „Will the Real Feminist Theory Please Stand up‟ by Ruth Robbins
It begins with tentative definition of feminist criticism. Feminism is political in a way that
literature isn‟t Art for Art‟s Sake. Rather, it is related to real life.
1) Relationship between words and reality: literature reflects reality or creates reality. This is
     how feminism is very similar to Marxism.
2) Relationship between words and worlds is political trying to impose ideologies or react
     against some ideologies.
3) All feminist theories focus on women.




                                               55
                            Session 19 – Wednesday May 20, 2009
Article 1: “Introduction: „Feminist Paradigms‟ by Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan
People started wondering why there isn‟t only one feminist criticism. In early feminism, they
were interested in images of women in male writings. Others reevaluated women writings like
Showalter. In early feminism, they are concerned with images of women in male writings
women wrote like men.
Women were not in the canon because men came up with the criteria from their own writings.
Thus feminists needed their own criteria. French feminists started to ask what is a woman.
Identity, language making use of words by Lacan
They wondered whether the idea of women is created by culture .who agreed on this idea are
constructionists gender is made by culture. The others are essentialists believing in differences
between men and women.
The essentialists say that female‟s body and experiences are different from male body, this
difference is reflected by literature written by men.
The constructionists would not agree as they say they will say that the concept women is a
product of culture & has nothing to do with women these are characteristics ascribed to women
by men the only difference between men is only biological according to Plato long ago
It doesn‟t mean that some of these feminists are traditional and the others more up to date this
is not true but we can group these as two different readings.
Feminists because of their experiences are closer to nature matters according to the essentialists
wheras males try to distance themselves from matters of nature
The assumption is that bcause of that women to preserve nature more than men.
The concept men & the concept women are fabricated by men who were in power .
If feminists are able to make language less then they would have achieved

Diving into the wrech
Feminist reading
Ad Rich is an feminist poet . she became late in her life an extremist feminist.The speaker is a
women describing to us how she is going to learn how to drive . she tells us what she is going
about it . she will carry a book of myth,a camera,flippers,&equipments that a diver may need .
she is on her own , she describes how she is in the water as she goes down.she is after the lost
female wreck tradition of writing symbolically & she wants to recover it so she reaches the
bottom & friends . the wreck lost tradition.
This lost tradition is hidden in barils symbolically . This poem is an ex of the 2nd type of
feminist criticism women as writers of what showalter advocated for .
The awakening is a good ex of a novel that was forgotten for 30 years .it was named as an
erotic novel but women discovered it & republished it & now it is a classic in the canon.
Post Structuralism
Structuralists wanted to arrive to a science of literature in order to make literary studies
objective . some critics started as and ended as post structuralists
Saying that it is not possible to arrive at a science of literature
De saussure said that the relationship signifier is arbitrary .there is always a gap between the
two acc to post date structuralists.
The same word could mean many different things so to the post structuralists language is very
slippery . We are stuck with signifiers to understand a word we don‟t know , we looked up in
the dictionary which gives us different meaning & still we don‟t understand it . The signified is
always distant or absent language is problematic even the same could be interpreted differently
by different people .
There is a gap between language & reality . There will be no correct reading .
Post structuralists split between signifier & signified .
                                              56
Bakhtin is also important for post structuralists
Bakhtin is a precursor of post structuralism m. Foucault is an important thinker .
Language & power
Knowledge is in the service of power power controls knowledge as well
Those who are in power decide what to read & how to read
The French polland barthes started as a structuralist & ended as a post structuralist.
Truth is subjective & not objective
Barthes announces the death of the author the text are produced from other text & not from the
mind of the author.




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                           Session 20 – Wednesday May 27, 2009
                               POST-STRUCTURALISM
Post Structuralism:
Many philosophers have contributed to this school
Perhaps the earliest started with Nietzsche through a 19 century philosopher.
His ideas was revolutionary & his system of philosophy went against traditional philosophy.
Philosophy that started with Plato sought ultimate Reality & Ultimate Truth. This idea was
held for a long time by philosophers . N argued against this ultimate Truth & reality but we are
stucked with multiple Truth & realities .
Truth is subjective , personal & not universal & ultimate according to Plato, this world of
appearance we live in is not a reliable source of reality & truth so we can‟t base knowledge on
observing this world but according to N. we are stuck with this imperfect changing world . We
are stuck with the appearances and also human reasons intuition can get hold & grasp reality
but to N. human reason can‟t be dissociated from instincts passions so we can‟t think
disinterestingly through our reason alone when our passion & instincts interfere
In short there is no universal perfect reality but we have realities .we have different
perspectives & see things from different angles . In addition to that , N. argued that these anti
theses that philosophers had come with (good/evil,men/women,good/bad, reason/passion) or
dichotomies are all fabricated .
Usually the upper part of the is considered to be perfect . These are to him ,human‟s fabrication
& decided to deconstruct them . Derrida continued in this trend but N. is now at the center of
recent philosophical one .
Lacan questioned the stability of the ego and of the thinking subject.To him, human ego is not
stable but it is a construct. There is no thinking subject that could standoutside things & see
things objectively . Lacan & many others had argued that language is there is a gap between
language & reality language is autonomous and creates reality without reflecting reality.
n.b. structuralism : langue
post structuralism : parole

were stuck with parole there is no universal langue this is true of all language not only
literature all language you intend to say something but end up saying something else or readers
interpret it differently.
New criticism was looking for ambiguity , paradox .. post structuralism agree with this but they
don‟t look for an underlying unity in a poem. Rather they believe that a poem when they
interpret a poem they said that it could be read as meaning as highlighting immortality or as
meaning as highlighting mortality .
The poem is chaotic it can be read in different ways & it can deconstruct itself .
It says the thing and its opposite
Derrida is against logocentrism in western philosophy it is the tendency to say that there is a
universal reality to D philosophical language is like literary language not exact & doesn‟t
convey one exact sense & meaning.
Rolland Barthes started as a Structuralist and ended as a Post Structuralist.
The role of the reader becomes central with post structuralism. Readers contribute to the text
more than the writer.




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                           Session 21 – Wednesday June 03, 2009
                                 POST-COLONIALISM
Post colonial criticism is similar in many ways to feminist criticism. In the case of feminism,
we have man and woman but in the case of post-colonialism, we have West and East or
Occident and Orient.
In feminism, man fabricated a distorted image of woman as subordinate, as marginal and as
other in order to dominate woman and keep her under control. Similarly, the West fabricated
an image of the East, of the Orient and of what we call 3rd world as deficient in many ways in
logic, rationality, as backward, as subordinate and as other in order to keep the East under the
control of the West.
Imperialism or Colonialism [‫ ]استعمبر‬means the same thing; it has been there throughout history
but Edward said was concerned more with Modern Imperialism from the early 19th century to
the present.
Edward Said is concerned with three colonial powers:
   1. England
                  Powerful from the early 19th century till the mid 20th
   2. France
   3. America took over from the mid 20th till the present and represent England and France
      as a colonial power.
The main reason behind colonialism, according to them, is to civilize occupied countries.
According to Edward Said whose book, Orientalism, was a pioneering book in Modern
Colonialism, power and knowledge go hand in hand and knowledge is used as justification of
power or knowledge serves the interest of power.
When Napoleon invaded in the late 18th century in Egypt, he brought with him not only army
but scholars of all kinds – psychologists, scientists, scholars … because knowledge to him runs
parallel to power so Edward Said is also concerned with a field of study called „Orientalism‟ or
what we call [‫.]االسئشراق‬
For instance, the orientalist is a scholar from the West [France, Germany and America] who
specializes in the East by studying Islam along with the history and the culture of the East …
Edward Said‟s main thesis in his book is that orientalists, when they came to study the East,
they came with preconceptions about the East which they borrowed and learned from their
culture. They are not objective most of the time but they come with stereotypes of the East and
Eastern people and they keep repeating these stereotypes in their writings about the East.
Edward Said gives us many examples of these stereotypes. He also gives three definitions of
Orientalism:
   1. An academic one as being anyone, who teaches, writes about or researches the Orient
      and this applies whether the person is an anthropologist, sociologist, historian, or
      philologist – either in its specific or in its general aspects.
   2. Another definition is a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological
      distinction made between “the Orient” and (most of the time) “the Occident”.
   3. Political Orientalism is in the service of colonialism; it engenders a western way of
      looking at the East, stereotyping it and having authority over the Orient.
This book of Edward Said has been influential and controversial. Tens of books were created
with or against Orientalism, but he admits that these are exceptions where he names some …
Edward Said is a Christian Palestinian born on November 1, 1935. His father was a US citizen
with Protestant Palestinian origins who had moved to Cairo in the decade before Edward's
birth. Later, after the year 1948, Edward Said moved to the States.
                                              59
In 1951, Said was expelled from Victoria College for being a "troublemaker", and was
consequently sent by his parents to Mount Hermon School, a private college preparatory
school in Massachusetts, where he recalls a "miserable" year of feeling "out of place". Said
earned a Bachelor of Arts (1957) from Princeton University and a Master of Arts (1960) and a
Ph.D. (1964) from Harvard University. He joined the faculty of Columbia University in 1963
and served as Professor of English and Comparative Literature for several decades. In 1977,
Said became the Parr Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia and
subsequently became the Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities. In 1992, he
attained the rank of University Professor, Columbia's most prestigious academic position.
Professor Said also taught at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Yale University. He was fluent in
English, French, and Arabic. But being a Palestinian, he suffered from discrimination. He felt
as the other in America despite all his privileges. In his book Orientalism, he talks as well for
his own experience of American and American culture. He died in September 25, 2003, in
New York City, after a decade-long battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
ُEdward Said gave many lectures in the American University of Beirut. He continued to be
interested in Arabic Culture and said that “The Arabian Nights” [‫ ]الف ليلة وليلة‬was translated
into English and was taken as representative of the East. Europe was concerned with the East
for many reasons mainly:
   - Neighboring
   - Wealth
Said is best known for describing and critiquing "Orientalism", which he perceived as a
constellation of false assumptions underlying Western attitudes toward the East. In Orientalism
(1978), Said claimed a "subtle and persistent Eurocentric prejudice against Arabo-Islamic
peoples and their culture." Orientalism involves scholars and politicians. Besides, it justifies
colonialism. The West fabricates and makes the East in its own way – the same way man
fabricates images of woman in feminism to keep the East under domination. The image of the
East that we see in Western‟s writings is not a true image but a constructed one. There is no
correspondence between Orientalism and the Orient. The history of Orientalism is long and has
become solid. The relationship between Occident and Orient is a relationship of power, of
domination and of varying degrees of a complex hegemony.
It is worth noting that when an American or a European attempts to study the Orient or
Orientalism, he comes up against the Orient as an American or a European first with his culture
in his sub-conscious, and as an individual second. [Refer to page 11 - handout].
In the 19th century in England, we have the beginning of liberal thoughts [equality, fraternity,
democracy …] which are applied to the West and not to the East. [Refer to page 14 - handout].
Edward said wrote his book Orientalism for two main reasons:
   1. To show how the West stereotypes the East.
   2. To look for ways of objective study of other cultures. He hopes that there will be
       scholars that deal with others in more objective ways. [Refer to page 24 - handout].
He deals with the Mass Media (how they intensified the stereotypes and the problem which
added to such stereotypes. However, Arabs are not doing anything to straighten this image
given by the West of the East. [Refer to page 26 - handout].
In page 27, he provides his reasons behind writing this book. There is a single scholar that
sympathizes with the Palestinians‟ causes. In page 32, Edward Said provides examples of how
orientalists misrepresented the East. Belfour was representing his country in Egypt. E S tries to
paraphrase the logic of Belfour – the Egyptians are silent; their viewpoint is not represented.
In page 38, there is an example of how orientalism thinks of the East. To Kraumer, Westerners
are innately logical as Easterners (better in the past) are innately illogical and never accurate.
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