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A Psychoanalytic Approach to the Bluest Eye

Author DengZuo
Tutor ZhangXiaoFeng
School Dalian Maritime University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords neurosis sociocultural environment anxiety need personality self conflict
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
Downloads 132
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The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison’s first novel, was published in 1970. As Toni Morrison has become one of America’s most celebrated contemporary authors, The Bluest Eye has gained increasing attention from literary critics. The former research of psychoanalysis to this novel was always by using Freudian and Jungian psychology. Freudian psychology which researches on the inner motivation of human behavior emphasizes the structure of personality—id, ego and superego, and focuses on a person’s consciousness and subconsciousness. Jungian psychology emphasizes that the mental energy is a result of clash among various power inside the personality. They don’t emphasize much on the influence on one’s personality from outside environment. As we all know, if you don’t know a person’s culture environment and living environment, you can’t get to know his personality. This cultural perspective on psychoanalysis belongs to the school of sociocultural psychoanalysis, and Karen Horney is the pathfinder of this school. When the author reads her theory for the first time, an inspiration of a new approach is found to analyze the heroine in The Bluest Eye.The author applies Horney’s theory which belongs to sociocultural school to analyze the heroine of this work from the perspective of psychoanalysis. The author chooses Horney’s theory of character neurosis to employ in this thesis. According to Horney, the psychology is intimately linked with the cultural and the social value, personal conflicts don’t arise internally but are the products of cultural determinants. Besides sociocultural environment and living environment, the main factor of forming one’s personality is the interpersonal relationship in his growing, especially his family relation. Horney stresses basic anxiety arising from childhood insecurities that continue throughout the life. In this thesis, the author notes Pecola, the heroine’s neurosis is based on her anxiety from the sociocultural environment, her parent-child relationship and her pathological parents. In order to relieve her anxiety, she forms some neurotic needs that include other’s love, approval, recognition, admiration and restricting herself to narrow borders. Following these ideas, she forms her personality to be self-effacement to move toward people. Pecola believes that people will value her more if she has very blue eyes, and she will be loved. Soon thereafter, Pecola falls into her imagination-her idealized self. Pecola drives herself into conflict by her consuming obsession for blue eyes, the bluest ones. The conflict makes her become neurosis, and then she gains extrication in her imaginary world.

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