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Misused Psychoanalysis and Misinterpreted Individuation

Author CaoZuo
Tutor DuChangZhong
School Fujian Normal University
Course Comparative Literature and World Literature
Keywords Freud Eros Death Instinct Anxiety Happiness Principle Achievement of Full Selfhood
Type Master's thesis
Year 2010
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D. H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers was immediately attached the tags of Freudian novel when it came off the press. Some of the tales in the novel, however, are in disagreement with the widely acknowledged Oedipus complex. For example, Paul’s mercy-killing of his mother has virtually inverted the renowned complex. The anxiety occasioned by the uncertain and unforeseeable future mushrooms in his mind and consequently gives birth to his rebellious act. The Freudian theory which habitually traces back to the childhood for the fundamental cause of neurotic abnormity of the human beings is intensely tinted with the gray color of biological determinism, flatly contradicting with Lawrence’s romantic thinking.In the novel, Lawrence recommends Eros, which includes body and soul as the two indispensible elements, as the marvelous energy which can counterbalance the mighty death instinct. Seemingly identical philosophy was put forth by Freud, but Eros in the psychologist’s dictionary has libido at its core, which basically acts upon the Pleasure Principle. Because of the fleeting relaxation from the gratification of the sexual desire, Freud’s Eros can never match with the death instinct in potency. Obviously, Paul in the novel desires far more than this sort of cheap gratification. Lawrence has in effect put forward his Happiness Principle through the vivid sketches of Paul’s psychological state.It is beyond doubt that Lawrence has given prominence to the unconsciousness in his novel, but he never substitutes the half-thought for the subjectivity of the human beings. His novel can be also viewed as a bidungsroman whose protagonist, Paul, is placed into a schizoid world. The war waged by his mismatched parents has a significant impact upon his individuation. Not only can a God image be distinctly discerned, but also the Garden of Eden might be identified in the novel. Furthermore, the denouement of the novel is indicative of the destiny of human race being exiled from the abode of God and angels. In addition, the close observation of the parent war helps unveil Lawrence’s class awareness which was conceptualized elsewhere by the author as "Affinity of Mind" and "Affinity of Blood".The novel displays as well that the achievement of the full selfhood is a dynamic course from Me to I, in which anxiety plays either a destructive or a constructive role. Moreover, the novel is strung together with a series of separation stories. Paul’s willing to be himself necessitates his cutting off the psychic umbilical cord with his dear mother and lovers. Finally, Paul’s frustration in the novel is by no means an individual case of anxiety. It also manifests the popular anxiety about the dim prospect of the western civilization.

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