Psychoanalytic criticism is a school of literary criticism that uses the methods of psychoanalysis to interpret works of literature.
The goal of psychoanalytic criticism is to reveal the hidden psychological impulses that may be motivating a work of literature, often in ways that the author themselves may not have been aware of.
One of the most important figures in psychoanalytic criticism is Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. Freud’s theories about the human psyche, particularly his ideas about repression and the unconscious mind, have had a profound influence on psychoanalytic literary criticism.
Other important concepts in psychoanalytic criticism include the Oedipus complex, ego, id, and superego.
Psychoanalytic criticism often focuses on works of literature that deal with topics such as social class, sexuality, and the family. This is because these are all areas where psychoanalysis can shed light on the hidden psychological impulses that may be at play.
One of the most important things to remember about psychoanalytic criticism is that it is not just about looking for evidence of sexual or other impulses in a work of literature. It is also about understanding how those impulses interact with each other and with the overall themes of the work.
Psychoanalysis is a complex and sometimes controversial field, and there is much debate among psychoanalytic critics about the best way to interpret a work of literature. However, the psychoanalytic approach can offer valuable insights into both the author’s psyche and the deeper meaning of their work.
Psychoanalytic Criticism was first mentioned by Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist. It analyzes the mind of the author while they were writing, which is where the “psycho” aspect comes from. The text is seen as a dream and readers attempt to understand it better as they read on and figure out its secrets.
The psychoanalytic criticism is not limited to just literature; it can also be applied to other forms of art such as painting, music and film.
An analyst using this form of criticism would look at the work in question and try to ascertain what kind of person the author was when they wrote it. They would take into account things like social class, religious beliefs and personal preferences in order to try and get a better understanding of the text. This information is then used to interpret the meaning of the work.
Freudian concepts such as the Oedipus complex and the id, ego and superego are often used in psychoanalytic criticism. This is because they offer a way of understanding human behavior that can be applied to the characters in a text.
One of the benefits of using psychoanalytic criticism is that it can help to unlock hidden meanings in a work. However, it should be noted that this form of criticism is not without its detractors. Some people argue that it is too subjective and that it can lead to readings that are far-fetched and difficult to defend.
In this approach, the author’s mind, the text’s influence on the reader, and the third character are all crucial. This idea was developed in psychology. It is a hypothesis that has evolved since it was first proposed, thus many additional comparable ideas have evolved from it. The following points will be addressed in detail.
This theory is based on the works of Sigmund Freud who is the father of psychoanalysis. In this theory, it is believed that the author’s mind is the most important determinant of the meaning of a text. The reader’s mind is also given some importance but to a lesser extent. This theory has its roots in social class because Freud was a middle-class man and his ideas were mostly about the middle-class.
Psychoanalysis as a method or technique for investigating mental processes, especially in order to treat abnormal psychological behaviour originated in the work of Austrian physician Sigmund Freud (1856–1939). As a scientific enterprise, psychoanalysis has had mixed fortunes. Its core concepts—including the unconscious, repression, the Oedipus complex, transference, and interpretation—have entered popular culture and have been adapted by a range of disciplines beyond psychology, including anthropology, archaeology, art history, literature, and philosophy.
Freud’s early work was primarily concerned with hysteria. In studies such as The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) and Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious (1905), he developed the basic ideas of psychoanalysis. These included the importance of sexuality in human behaviour; the significance of childhood experiences; the existence of an unconscious mind; that dreams can be interpreted; and that humour arises from the resolution of internal conflicts.
The social class is another important factor in this theory. This is because the ideas of psychoanalysis were mostly about the middle-class. The lower class was not given much importance in this theory.
This theory has undergone evolution since it was propounded. Many other similar theories have stemmed from it. The most important of these is the object relations theory. This theory is based on the works of Melanie Klein. In this theory, it is believed that objects are more important than people in determining the meaning of a text.
Because of this assumption, many writers end up writing autobiographies without realizing it. A good example is Chinua Achebe’s poem “Refugee Mother and Child.” He vividly describes the appalling conditions in refugee camps during colonial times in Nigeria.
The poem’s title “Refugee Mother and Child” is an allusion to the Madonna and Child. The poem’s opening lines:
The poem’s opening lines:
“Her child was dead, / And her breasts were dry.” (Achebe 1-2)
With these words, Achebe immediately establishes a connection between the speaker’s mother and the Madonna. The Madonna is a symbol of self-sacrificing love, and the fact that the speaker’s mother has lost her child suggests that she too has experienced great sorrow. However, unlike the Madonna, who is surrounded by adoring followers, the speaker’s mother is alone and abandoned. This contrast highlights the cruelty of the refugee camp, which offers no solace or comfort to its residents.
Achebe goes on to describe the conditions in the camp, which are so horrific that they defy belief:
“The fire / Had died in her eyes.” (Achebe 3-4)
Here, Achebe uses vivid imagery to convey the mother’s despair. The fire in her eyes has been extinguished, just as her hope for a better future has been extinguished. The camp is a living nightmare, and the mother is slowly being consumed by it.
Although Achebe does not explicitly state it, it is clear that the refugee camp is a metaphor for the colonial experience. The refugees are trapped in a nightmarish world that is controlled by a cruel and heartless system. The camp represents the African experience under colonialism, which was one of exploitation, misery, and death.
Achebe’s poem is an example of psychoanalytic criticism because it uses the Freudian concept of the subconscious to explore the colonial experience. Freud believed that the subconscious was a storehouse of memories, desires, and fears that were hidden from conscious awareness. He believed that these hidden impulses could exert a powerful influence on human behavior.