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Freud’s Psychoanalysis on Philip Roth’s the Ghost Writer

Author XuZuo
Tutor YuanXueSheng
School Nanchang University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Freud Psychoanalysis Theory Philip Roth the Ghost Writer
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
Downloads 206
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Philip Roth is one of the most excellent Jewish American novelists. He gained great fame with his first book Goodbye, Columbus (1959). This book won the National Book Award in the next year. Roth is quite different from the other novelists in his period, he always gives a calm and objective revelation of the outmoded and hypocritical Jewish conventions, the theme of some of his novels is full of criticism. He is a writer of contradiction. On the one hand, he shows great respect and concern for Jewish culture and tradition. On the other hand, he tries hard to seek for the approval of the main culture in American society. Therefore, his works never lack rebels against Jewish traditions, and it is just because of his unique characters and plot in his works that his works aroused wide attention and dispute in American literature.The Ghost Writer is an autobiographical novel. It writes down the change of mind in the protagonist Zuckerman during his visit to a famous writer Lonoff. Zuckerman lives in a narrow space of two different cultures. Faced with his immigrant identity and his enthusiasm for literary and artistic creation, Zuckerman hesitates between ideal and reality. This thesis is to give a vivid explanation of how Freud’s conscious and unconscious theory and his personality structure theory affect people’s behaviors. The conflict among Id, Ego and Superego in Zuckerman is a good reflection of his feeling when encountered two different cultures.This thesis is divided into six chapters. The first chapter is an introduction of Philip Roth’s writing experience and the introduction of the novel The Ghost Writer. The second chapter is literary review, it focuses on the recent research on Philip Roth and his works, and the illustration of the research purpose and approaches is given in this part. Roth is a controversial writer. In his writing career, both he and his works have been constantly challenged and criticized by critics. The third chapter is the theoretical framework-Freud’s psychoanalysis. Then in the next chapter, a detailed analysis of the behavior of Zuckerman using Freud’s psychoanalysis theory is given. Roth has been influenced by Freud’s theory to a certain degree. It is natural for us to understand Roth and his works using Freud’s psychoanalysis theory, such as unconsciousness, personality structure, depression. Libido, etc. The three parts of one’s personality structure are fighting against each other, the contradiction of them can shape one’s personality, guiding one’s behaviors. Our human beings are a contradictory aggregation, and in their psychic factors there are instincts, including various desire and impulse. As well as one’s moral sense. The differences among these factors and the result of their interaction can be treated as an explanation of people’s different personalities and behaviors. Most of Roth’s works are semi-autobiographical, he always wanders about his works and reality. It is not difficult for us to see the spiritual and living condition of Roth from his works. The fifth chapter is an analysis of the behavior of Amy, Hope and Lonoff. It is a further illustration of how people’s mind is acting on their behaviors. The research on people’s mind is a better way to understand the behaviors of the characters in Roth’s works, and it is a reflection of the author’s creative thinking. The last chapter is the conclusion of the thesis. In a word, this thesis is aimed at digging out the deeper meaning of the novel itself and to make readers know more about Roth, especially his thinking process of writing by analyzing the defense mechanisms which are used unconsciously by the characters when they are faced with the contradictive elements of one’s Id. Ego and Superego.

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