Monday, May 17, 2010

Down Through the Looking Glass Once More: Viewing Lolita with a Psychoanalytic Lens

“Let the credulous and the vulgar continue to believe that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths to their private parts” – Vladimir Nabokov
Vladimir Nabokov’s infamous villain, Monsieur Humbert Humbert of Lolita, is chiefly known for his penchant for “nymphets” – his raging pedophilia. Since its publication in 1955, the text has enjoyed a wild, lascivious, and incendiary reputation, having been banned, for a time, in France, Argentina, South Africa England and New Zealand. In a New York Times book review, journalist Elizabeth Janeway writes that “Lolita is one of those occasional books which arrive swishing behind them a long tail of opinion and reputation which can knock the unwary reader off his feet.” That was in 1958, only three years after Lolita debuted among the American public. Its long, swishing tail has grown even longer in the decades since.

Jessie Kunhardt of the Huffington Post writes “Lolita is far and away [Nabokov’s] most well-respected novel. It [is] groundbreaking in terms of its intricate style, its fascinating and unreliable narrator, and its controversial subject matter.” Though many have accused Lolita of being mere pornography and perversion, the intelligent reader knows that Lolita is no dime-novel, no tawdry paperback. Rather, it is a masterful work of literature that delves into the human psyche and leaves its readers shuddering in the mind long after the last page is turned. Setting aside, however, the brilliant prose, middle-American landscape, French sensibilities and depiction of adolescent whimsy that create the text’s world, the fact remains that Lolita is still largely concerned with pedophilia, so an examination of Humbert perversions is in order. Pedophilia is not the only concern, however; pedophilia is a secondary concern, as it is only one form of what should be the primary concern—Humbert’s raging psychosis, which manifests itself primarily in pedophilia, but also in narcissism and schizophrenia.

Let us, then, begin our psychoanalytic exploration with Humbert’s most obvious problem—the aforementioned pedophilia. Margarette Gullette writes asserts that “pedophilia represents in an extreme form a normal problem of human development, the transition from latency to accepting adult sexuality and therefore aging” (Gullette 215). In her article, “The Exile of Adulthood: Pedophilia in the Midlife Novel,” Gullette paints the pedophile of literature as a sort of Peter Pan figure, bent on possessing youth in whatever way they can. Gullette writes that “behind every story of pedophilia is a drama of […] human regret at growing older in the body, distorted by the protagonist's illusory attempt to circumvent his aging in this particular way, by trying to possess youth vicariously through the bodies of the young” (215). In particular evidence of this, Gullette points to the “value-laden tones of longing and nostalgia” characters like Humbert use in their discussion of “pre-adult” stages (216). And indeed, Humbert is certainly guilty of this. One need look no further than the first four chapters to locate Humbert’s fond, obsessive ruminations of the past, his eagerness to relay to the jury his love affair (during his own incipient adolescence) with young Annabel—Lolita’s precursor, to Humbert’s mind. Humbert poetically narrates: “The days of my youth, as I look back on them, seem to fly away from me in a flurry of pale repetitive scraps like those morning snow storms of used tissue paper that a train passenger sees whirling in the wake of the observation of a car” (Nabokov, 16). It is not hard to imagine his soft sigh upon putting down his pen.

“I leaf again and again through these miserable memories, and keep asking myself, was it then, in the glitter of that remote summer, that the rift in my life began; or was my excessive desire for that child only the first evidence of an inherent singularity?” (Nabokov 14). Here one must pause; certainly, a crush or even bout of puppy love is no matter of psychosis or neurosis, but rather a normal, healthy expression of burgeoning sexual desire. But “puppy love” is not the picture Humbert paints. Humbert describes his love for Annabel (both only thirteen) as mad, frenzied, clumsy, shameless, wild and agonizing (12) and takes pains to impress upon the reader the obsession and desperation which marked their affair—clawing at each other in the sea, attempted intercourse on the sand, and Humbert’s desire to “actually [imbibe and assimilate] every particle of [Annabel’s] soul and flesh” (12). Herein, it becomes clear that young Humbert’s tryst with Annabel is, in fact, evidence of a singularity, but not, however, an inherent one.

To call it inherent, of course, implies that Humbert’s longstanding psychosis was built-in, so to speak—present, upon birth. If we turn to Freud and his developmental theories, we discover that Humbert’s psychosis more likely rooted in the pre-Oedipal stage, wherein a glitch occurred; I argue that Humbert’s psychosis is a product of his ego’s failure to ever be established. Freud’s famous “Oedipus complex” centers around the assertion that every child longs to sleep with his or her mother—“only the father’s intervention, separating mother from child, prevents incest […] All civilization is founded on the prohibition expressed in the father’s intervention” (Rivkin and Ryan, 391)

The intervention occurs during the phallic phase of Freudian psychosexual development, when the child becomes aware of his or her possession or lack of a penis. The male child realizes the potential for castration at the hands of his father should he cross the father by sleeping with the father’s mate, his mother:

“The trauma connected with this phase is that of castration, which makes this phase especially important for the resolution of the
Oedipus complex. Over this time, you began to deal with your separation anxieties (and your all-encompassing egoism) by finding symbolic ways of representing and thus controlling the separation from (not to mention your desire for) your mother. You also learned to defer bodily gratification when necessary. In other words, your ego became trained to follow the reality-principle and to control the pleasure-principle, although this ability would not be fully attained until you passed through the latency period. [..] [There is] an internalization of the parental function (which Freud usually associated with the father) that eventually manifested itself in your conscience (and sense of guilt)” (Felluga).

I hold that, for Humbert, this never happened. To begin with, Humbert’s father is painted as a jovial, gallant, womanizing, and preposterous figure (“a gentle, easy-going person” [9] with a “delightfully debonair manner” [11]), who is more absent than present during Humbert’s childhood. Furthermore, Humbert’s mother died when he was a toddler; Humbert narrates: “My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three, and, save for a pocket of warmth in the darkest past, nothing of her subsists within the hollows and dells of memory, over which […] the sun of my infancy had set” (10). Humbert’s mother lived long enough for Humbert to develop a sexual attachment to her, but passed before it was ever necessary for his father to have to intervene. Because of this, adult Humbert can be seen as stuck in the pre-Oedipal stage, wherein the pleasure-principle (the pursuit of pleasure and/or gratification at the potential expense of propriety and/or reason) reigns supreme and no attention is paid to the reality-principle.

In the pre-Oedipal stage, a child is driven by his id, that is, “the biological, inherited, unconscious source of sexual drives, instincts, and irrational impulses” as opposed to the ego, which “develops out of the id's interaction with the external world. It [the ego] is produced from the non-biological (social and familial) forces brought to bear on one's biological development and functions as an intermediary between the demands of the id and the external world.” (Quigley) For Humbert, this development was thwarted. Humbert can be seen as never having passed through the castration complex.

Jacques Lacan theorizes that the Law of the Father, realized through the castration complex, is what ushers in a child’s understanding of externality, or Freud’s reality-principle. Essentially, “when the child accedes to castration, it accedes to the impossibility of it directly satisfying its incestuous wish” (Sharpe).

For Humbert, incest with his mother is an impossibility, but only because she is dead. The fact remains, however, that he stagnates in a pre-Oedipal, id-driven state. Lacan explains that, ideally, when an ego is formed (in response to the id, coinciding with the introduction of the Law of the Father, an “identification with and within something that cannot be seen, touched, devoured, or mastered [occurs]: namely, the words, norms and directives of its given cultural collective” (Sharpe). Thus, Humbert never passes through latency or the genital phase, wherein he would have learned to suppress and sublimate his desires, move beyond childhood egoism, and develop a drive to procreate (Felluga). He remains ruled by the pleasure-principle.

Herein lies the basis of his psychological turmoil. To begin with, he never established a sound ego. But why psychosis? Furthermore, why psychosis in the eventual form of pedophilia? To answer this question, we must look to Carl Jung. Earlier in this blog, I referenced Jung’s article, “Anima and the Animus” in relation to Dick Diver’s romantic liaisons in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night. Once again, a discussion of anima proves profitable. I wrote:

“Jung explains that in every individual there exists anima and animus; anima refers to the unconscious feminine principle and animus refers to its masculine principle. A man’s anima, in this framework, constitutes the man’s ideal female partner; Jung writes that the man, ‘in his love-choice, is strongly tempted to win the woman who best corresponds to his own unconscious femininity—a woman, in short, who can unhesitatingly receive the projection of his soul’ [Jung 159]” (Kiara).

In this manner, Jung provides a psychological explanation for individual’s attractions. This psychology is undeniably Oedipal, moreover, when we note that “the anima of a man will have many characteristics of his mother” (Von Franz 188). Just as Humbert’s ego was malformed, so was this basic anima. With no memory of a mother, save for her beauty, young Humbert was forced to create his anima from something or someone else—Annabel, his first love. Though they were together but a few summer months before she died of typhoid, that brief time was long enough for her to leave a lasting imprint on Humbert's fragile psyche. The thirteen-year-old girl, and all that she represented, became the constitution of characteristics that would forever make up Humbert’s anima. “The ache remained with me,” Humbert narrates, “and that little girl with her seaside limbs and ardent tongue haunted me ever since, until at last, twenty-four years later, I broker her spell by incarnating her in another” (Nabokov 15-6).

So despite what Humbert refers to as a “happy, healthy childhood in a bright would of illustrated books, clean sand, orange trees, friendly dogs, sea vistas and smiling faces” and a “cher petit papa” whom he “adored and respected” (10), Humbert’s psyche was delicate from the very start, and, moreover, doomed to begin with.

As an adult, full-fledged psychosis emerged, limited not only to pedophilia, but to narcissism and violence, as well. He murders Clare Quilty, of course, and entertains the thought of killing his second wife Charlotte Haze. In his introduction to Lolita, Martin Amis points out that Humbert is also “something of a bourgeois sadist with his first wife, Valeria. He fantasized about ‘slapping her breasts out of alignment’ or ‘putting on [his] mountain boots and taking a running kick at her rump’ but in reality confined himself to ‘twisting fat Valechka’s brittle wrist’” (viii).

Then there is the narcissism (Freudian narcissism, that is, rather than Lacanian); Humbert refers to himself as “a great big handsome hunk of movieland manhood” (41). He peppers his narrative with polite reminders to his readers of how handsome he is throughout the entire text, and states, quite simply that “despite his malheurs, I am an exceptionally handsome male; slow-moving, gall, with soft dark hair and a gloomy but all the more seductive cast of demeanor. Exceptional virility often reflects in the subject’s displayable features a sullen and congested something that pertain to what he was to conceal. And this was my case. Well did I know, alas, that I could obtain at the snap of my fingers any adult female I chose; in fact, it had become quite a habit with me of not being too attentive to women lest they come toppling, bloodripe, into my cold lap” (26). Humbert’s self-love and self-indulgence abounds, and his view of himself is nothing short of megalomania.

Freud writes that “in
neurosis the ego suppresses part of the id out of allegiance to reality, whereas in psychosis it lets itself be carried away by the id and detached from a part of reality”; that readiness to allow the desires free reign and to detach oneself from reality is made manifest in all of Humbert’s actions—his pedophilic affair with Lolita, his wild murder of Quilty, and his extreme narcissism.

In fact, the entirety of Lolita can be seen as yet another of Humbert’s indulgences, as he devotes thirty-six chapters to his own story, which the perceived audience (the members of the jury) will be forced to read through.

With all his evils and eccentricities, examining Humbert with a psychoanalytic lens becomes highly profitable. Humbert writes: “When I try to analyze my own cravings, motives, actions and so forth, I surrender to a sort of retrospective imagination which feeds the analytic faculty with boundless alternatives and which causes each visualized route to fork and re-fork without end in the maddeningly complex prospect of my past” (Nabokov 14); though Humbert gets lost in the sea of his own psychosis, a careful Freudian analysis allows for a clearer picture—horrific, still, but clearer.

In an interview with Nabokov from 1967, Alfred Appel, Jr., says the following: “You have often expressed your hostility to Freud, most noticeably in the forewords to your translated novels. Some readers have wondered which of Freud's works or theories you were most offended by and why […] Would you comment on this?” Nabokov responds thus: “Oh, I am not up to discussing again that figure of fun. He is not worthy of more attention […] Let the credulous and the vulgar continue to believe that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths to their private parts. I really do not care” (Nabokov, Wisconsin Studies).

While Nabokov claims not to care about Freud, he nonetheless creates in Humbert a character rife with possibilities for Freudian psychoanalysis. Freud’s theories, one must remember, are first and foremost a text (Nabokov’s reminder that they are, at a foundational level, “old Greek myths” is spot on) with which to compare other texts. And though Nabokov does not care, that, by no means, means that we should not; Freudian analysis reveals a rich complexity to Humbert that fosters far more concern that summarily writing him off as a pedophile. Humbert is first a madman—second, a pedophile.

Works Cited

Amis, Martin. Introduction. By Vladimir Nabokov. London: Everyman’s Library, 1955. vii-xxv.

Felluga, Dino. "Modules on Freud: On Psychosexual Development." Introductory Guide to
Critical Theory. 28 Nov. 2003. Purdue U. Web. 14 May 2010.

Freud, Sigmund. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud.
Trans. James Strachey. 24 vols. London: Hogarth, 1953-74.

Gullette, Margaret. "The Exile of Adulthood: Pedophilia in the Midlife Novel." Novel: A Forum
on Fiction (Providence, RI), Spring 1984, 17:3, p. 215-32.

Janeway, Elizabeth. "The Tragedy of Man Driven by Desire: Lolita, By Vladimir Nabokov.”
New York Times (1923-Current file) 17 Aug. 1958, ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006), ProQuest. Web. 15 May. 2010.

Jung, Carl. “Anima and the Animus.” Psychoanalysis and Woman: A Reader. Ed. Shelley
Saguaro. New York: New York University Press, 2000. 158-75. Print.

Kiara, Kristi Ann. “Anima Women and Oedipal Fulfillment in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night.” The Dancing Scholar.19 March 2010. 14 May 2010. Web.

Kunhardt, Jessie. “The Forgettable and Overlooked in Lit Prizes.” Huffington Post. 20 October
2009. Web. 10 May 2010.

Nabokov, Vladimir. Lolita. London: Everyman’s Library, 1955. Print.

---. Interview by Alfred Appel, Jr. Wisconsin Studies. 1967. Web. 12 May 2010.

Quigley, T. R. “A Brief Outline of Psychosis.” 16 Feb 1998. Web. 12 May 2010.

Rivkin, Julie and Michael Ryan. Literary Theory: An Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1998. Print.

Sharpe, Matthew. “The Law and Symbolic Identification.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
27 June 2005. Web. 11 May 2010.

Von Franz, Mary-Louise.“The Feminine in Fairy Tales.” Psychoanalysis and Woman: A Reader. Ed. Shelley Saguaro. New York: New York University Press, 2000. 187-201. Print.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Forget Prince Charming; I'm rescuing myself!

In The Madwoman in the Attic, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar hold up Vanity Fair's Amelia Sedley and Becky Sharp as 19th century examples of the age-old female archetypes of angel and "monster." In the passage Gilbert and Gubar quote, Becky is seen as "writhing and twirling, diabolically hideous and slimy, flapping amongst bones, or curling around corpses." She is, in short, not only a a proverbial monster, but an actual one as well (though she is "proper, agreeable, and decorous"on the surface.

I balked at this denouncement of Becky. Becky is one of the most sparkling and fearless heroines in all of literature; one whom I, personally, would be proud to relate to. She is sharp, like her last name, with beauty and to match her wit and cunning. She is ambitious and resourceful, and fights for everything; her arsenal is full of tools, and she is not afraid to use men's lust against them.

Gilbert and Gubar hold, however, that she is being depicted as "an emblem of filthy materiality, committed only to [her] private ends," and thus "an accident of nature." The very same behavior, assertion and aggressiveness, would be lauded in a man, of course, but not in little Becky Sharp.

The patriarchal hegemony would have her be more like her counterpart, Amelia: eternally calm and quiet and "good," and furthermore, in the words of Abbe d'Ancourt, cognizant of the fact that she "owes her Being to the Comfort and the Profit of man." This is not Becky, however, with her "demoniac" longing to escape into a reality where she sustains herself, free from the anima projections (as Carl Jung called them) of a man.

I am not (nor is Becky) waiting for Prince Charming. We'll rescue ourselves, thank you.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Into "The Jungle"

Prior to reading Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle," all that I knew of it was that it dealt with the evils of the meat industry--and that, at some point, someone will fall into a meat grinder and meet his death (which I nervously awaited throughout the majority of my read, fearing for poor Jurgis, in fact, only to find this was only a passing remark, which didn't hold a candle to the death of young Stanislovas by rats).

So, with a modest amount of fervor, I opened up "The Jungle," expecting a somewhat tedious and perhaps sickening read, centering on horror and solemnity. But instead, to my surprise, I found a wedding! And hollering Marija! In short, I was intrigued at once. The reality of immigrant life in fin-de-siecle Chicago trickled in shortly, of course, as the narrator reminds the readers of his "friends' " staggering poverty, the debt incurred by this traditional veselija feast, the rampant drinking, and the awful but necessary eventuality of plodding through the snow to work the next morning--there will be no days off.

And so, at the close of chapter one, with Ona open his shoulders, Jurgis utters the phrase that is to set the stage for the entire novel: "I will work harder." This is his solution--the only one he knows, and he purposes to work harder and harder still, with all his heaving might, for nearly two thirds of the novel, as one by one his father, wife and child die off -- hapless victims of the struggle for survival within Capitalist society.

For the final third, I was less invested (still interested though); after Ona's death, one could still hope for Antenas, but after his drowning, I, with Jurgis, anticipated only and endless series of strife and malice. Jurgis turns to crime, and achieves luck for a time, but what is the point if there is no wife, no baby, to share this fortune with? And then even when socialism manages to stir Jurgis' soul, everything still seems lost; for is the once-effervescent, ebullient, hardy Marija not a weak, sickly, mamed whore, addicted to drugs? Is not Elzebieta going to die, along with the children, in the same way that the rest of the family has?

Sinclair did a masterful job of bringing to light the hideous evils of greedy Packingtown, and the Rudkus family is the perfect channel through which to draw his readers in. The text was amazing, until all but the last chapter, when Sinclair launched into a veritable pamphlet on Socialism, with not even the pretense of the "story" in the final pages.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Off With Their Heads!

While watching Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" last Sunday, I couldn't help but thinking of Marxist ideology. All throughout the film, tenants of socialism burst through the screen.

First of all, there's that evil red queen, offing everyone's head. She, the opressor, represents the hegemony. Her court, just a step below her, effectively represents the bourgeoisie. The hatter and his ilk are the oppressed proletariat; it is at the expense of the proletariat the that the queen and the court maintain their status. These were the more obvious Marxist renderings within the film, but there were more interesting and subtle Marxist moments, as well.

Take for example the hatter--"mad," is he, now that he cannot work. In a discussion with Alice, he mourns for the days when he was a hatter to the white queen, and Alice agrees that it is too bad he cannot "hat." And then, when the red queen orders him to make her hats (notably, while he is still in chains), the hatter, with a lofty look in his eye, sighs and opines that it is good to be back at his trade. Herein, the Marxist notion of the laborer having his worth determined by his labor is reified. This is so true that the hatter is mad, and hence of no "value," when separated from his trade.

Fortunately for the hatter, he and the rest of the proletariat, as well as the bourgeoisie court and army, come to consciousness by the end of the film. When Alice, who comes to her own consciousness when returning to England, slays the enemy and consequentally robs the red queen of her crown, the proletariat no longer falls at the feet of the red queen. This is an imperfect Marxist model, though, because now they are just under the power of a different queen. The movie makes it feel like a coming-to-consciousness as soldiers throw their speers to the ground and deny the red queen any power, but are the really consious? I argue no, as, undoubtedly, were the credits not to roll, they would just continue to labor, only under a "nice" hegemony instead.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Anima Women and Oedipal Fulfillment in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night

“Am I going to go through the rest of my life flinching at the word ‘father’?”
– Tender is the Night, 209

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night is rife with fodder that begs to be looked at through a psychoanalytic lens. In creating this novel, Fitzgerald creates a world that reifies Jungian and Freudian thought, specifically in terms of Jung’s concept of anima women and Freud’s Oedipal stage (ubiquitous in the first half of the twentieth century).
Published in 1934, Tender is the Night is Fitzgerald’s fourth novel. Protagonist Dick Diver is a troubled psychoanalyst, and, like Fitzgerald himself, he is plagued with alcoholism, brilliance, and a mentally unstable wife. Tender is the Night chronicles thirty-four year old Dick’s life circa 1925, as he enters into a romantic relationship with a seventeen-year-old, very childlike actress. Through flashbacks, readers learn that his relationship with his wife, Nicole, started when she was only sixteen and he was ten years her senior. The world of Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night is constructed in such a way that the question of Oedipal desire (and fulfillment) cannot be avoided.
Notions of Oedipal desire are not the only psychoanalytic concerns of this text; present, too, are notion of anima. Tender is the Night cannot be separated from anima women, as they provide the female presence of the novel. In his article, “Anima and the Animus,” Carl Jung explains that in every individual exists anima and animus; anima refers to the unconscious feminine principle and animus refers to its masculine principle. A man’s anima, in this framework, constitutes the man’s ideal female partner; Jung writes that the man, “in his love-choice, is strongly tempted to win the woman who best corresponds to his own unconscious femininity—a woman, in short, who can unhesitatingly receive the projection of his soul” (159). Anima women, then, are the women who recognize these projections and step into them, in order to gain recognition from the man. Marie-Louise von Franz writes:
Women are influenced by the men’s anima projections. For instance, they behave in a certain way (…) Even small girls find out that if they play the part of the father’s anima, put their arms round his neck, etc., they can get a lot out of their father. Father’s daughters push aside the mother who insists on clean fingernails and going to school. They say ‘Daddy’ in a charming way and he falls for the trick; thus they learn to use the man’s anima by adapting to it. Women who behave in this way we call ‘anima women’. Such women simply play the role intimated to them by the man in whom they are most interested [my italics]. They are conscious of themselves only as mirrors of the man’s reaction. Their love will tell them they are wonderful, but if there is no man around, they feel as if they were nobody. (188)

The women in Tender is the Night are very much the women that Von Franz writes about here. Both Rosemary and Nicole’s existences are predicated, largely, on Dick’s desires; they live to serve his needs, and in doing so, fulfill their own need to be recognized. They have their own agendas and concerns, of course, but their main concern is always Dick’s attention and how to hold sway over it—Fitzgerald makes this clear from the start of the novel, writing of Tender is the Night’s women that: “Their [Rosemary, Nicole, and Nicole’s friend Mary North] point of resemblance to each other and their difference from so many American women, lay in the fact that they were all happy to exist in a man’s world—they preserved their individuality through men and not by opposition to them” (53).
This idea is first introduced earlier in on in Fitzgerald’s depiction of Rosemary—“She saw him look her over from head to foot, a gesture she recognized and that made her feel slightly superior to whoever made it. If her person was property she could exercise whatever advantage was inherent in its ownership [my italics]” (23). When a man projects his anima onto a woman, I argue that he is making her an object of his own desire (this objectification, however, is not to be confused with sexual objectification); therefore, any woman who is, in fact, an “anima woman,” must be cognizant, on some level, of this objectification. Rosemary, clearly, is highly cognizant of this reality, and deals with in a pragmatic fashion, using it to her own advantage, as evidenced in this quote.
In Tender is the Night, what Dick seems to want from his women is chiefly youth and beauty. As with Rosemary, Nicole’s identity is wrapped up in her physical beauty. At a dinner surrounded by her and Dick’s friends (as well as Rosemary herself), Fitzgerald writes that Nicole, “[saw] from their eyes how beautiful she was, she thanked them with a smile of radiant appreciation” (52-3); herein we learn that Nicole’s beauty is not inherent, but, rather, constituted by its recognition. Toward the end of the text, a man named Tommy Barban pursues Nicole while she is still married; Fitzgerald writes: She was happy; she did not want anything to happen, but only for the situation to remain in suspension as the two men tossed her from one mind to another; she had not existed for a long time, even as a ball” (276). Later, having engaged in affair with Tommy, he writes: “For the first time in ten years she was under the sway of a personality other than her husband’s . Everything Tommy said to her became part of her forever” (293). Both of these quotes demonstrate again the nature of women in this text—their very existence depends on the men who seem to design them. And the man, of course, who is chiefly responsible for both Nicole and Rosemary is Dick, through whom they continually seek recognition, reifying their identity as anima women.
The reality of anima women is evidenced not only in Dick and his ladies, but in women such as Mary North, as well. That is not to say that Mary wants to fulfill Dick’s anima, but her own husband, Abe’s, anima. Fitzgerald writes of Mary in passing, and even there reader’s witness even a peripheral character’s identification as an anima woman: “She was following her husband somewhere, changing herself to this kind of person or that, without being able to lead him a step out of his path” (62). In inclusion of women such as Mary in addition to Rosemary and Nicole, the anima women becomes the paradigm of Tender is the Night.
An important note to remember is that the “the anima of a man will have many characteristics of his mother” (Von Franz 188), which brings us to the other major psychoanalytic concern of this novel—the Oedipal desire. Tender is the Night teems with depictions of Rosemary and Nicole as children and girls rather than women, and furthermore positions Dick as their father figure. But, chronologically, before there love triangle has ever been realized, the Oedipal desire has already been fulfilled between Nicole and her real father.
In Freud Revisited, psychotherapist Roger Horrocks posits that “loss, prohibition, threats of violence, [and] rivalry” make up the “language of the Oedipal triangles,” (120), and indeed, they do. Horrocks also points out that “for the girl, matters seem even worse” (120). For the girl, passing through the Oedipal stage represents a loss of of her ideal lover (her father) before she can ever possess him, violence in her perceived castration, prohibition of her incestuous desires by society, and rivalry with her own mother. This cannot be an easy transition. These conflicts, stemming from the even the pre-Oedipal years, are the very issues that can disturb the child long after childhood is over.
So what of Rosemary and Nicole? Rosemary’s own father is dead and Nicole’s father, Devereaux Warren, sleeps with his daughter. The text isn’t clear how old she was when this happened, but readers can ascertain it is before she is sixteen, in the care of an asylum in Switzerland (this, of course, is where Dick works and falls in love with her). While there, her father Devereaux Warren, admits he engaged in a sexual relationship with his daughter; Deveraux confesses that after the death of Nicole’s mother, they became very close, and then, in a characteristically Fitzgeraldian euphism, he says that “We were just like lovers—and then all at once we were lovers” (129). Deveraux is instructed to stay away from his neurotic (or, has Dick himself puts it “a schizzoid—a permanent eccentric” [349]) daughter after that point, and Nicole quickly gains a new father/lover figure: Dick.
Like a father, Dick reminds her to “be a good girl” (130) during her treatments, but like a lover, he marries her. Of his incipient infatuation with Nicole, Fitzgerald writes: “The impression of her youth and beauty grew on Dick until it welled up inside him in a compact paroxysm of emotion. She smiled, a moving childish smile that was like all the lost youth in the world” (328). It is Nicole’s youth, just as it is Rosemary’s, that attracts him. Both women are depicted as childlike, especially Rosemary, who Mary Burton, author of “The Counter-Transference of Dr. Diver,” argues is simply a new, younger version of Nicole, who is already twenty-four at the start of the novel, and twenty-nine by the end. Her inevitable womanhood leads Dick to look for a new woman-girl, which brings us to Rosemary.
Fitzgerald makes a point of constantly associating Rosemary with notions of childhood. Dick says of Rosemary: “She’s an infant (…) there’s a persistent aroma of the nursery” (167). Later on the novel, he also remarks that “Rosemary didn’t grow up (…) It’s probably better that way” (299). Time and again, Roesmary is portrayed in this fashion. Likewise, Dick is strongly positioned as her father figure, just as he was with young Nicole. In their first private conversation, Rosemary asks Dick about his profession:
‘Are you a scientist?’
‘I’m a doctor of medicine.’
‘Oh-h!’ she smiled delightedly. ‘My father was a doctor too.’ (63)

Moments later, he calls her a “lovely child” (63) and tells her “‘When you smile— ’ He had recovered his paternal attitude, perhaps because of Nicole’s silent proximity, ‘I always think I’ll see a gap where you’ve lost some baby teeth’” (64).
So, in this way, Rosemary (the new Nicole) and father-figure Dick begin their romance. But perhaps Rosemary’s relationship with Dick has more to do with her overbearing mother than her absent father. In her essay, “ ‘Acting Out the Oedipal Wish,” Rachel Devlin conducts a study of incest among adolescent girls in the U.S. from 1941-1965. She examines incest alongside Freudian psychiatry, and points out that “a girl’s re-discovered affection for her father at puberty was believed to be an avenue of escape from her preoedipal attachment to her mother—an attachement that was increasingly perceived to be overly intense, emotionally threatening, and potentially dangerous and girls entered adolescence” (611) and that during adolescence, it becomes necessary for a girl to “shift her attachement from her mother to her father” (618). Looked at in this way, in the fulfillment of Oedipal fantasies, the father figure is secondary to the that of the mother.
In the aforementioned scene where Rosemary is represented as Dick’s “lovely child” with missing baby teeth, Rosemary illumines the position of her mother in their Oedipal affair; Dick reminds her of the reasons it would be wrong to sleep with her, and mentions chiefly his love for Nicole, to which Rosemary responds: “But you can love more than just one person, can’t you? Like I love Mother and I love you—more. I love you more now” (65). It is painfully clear that she is trying to love him more than her mother; Elsie Speers, Rosemary’s mother, is always with Rosemary, watching over and guiding her every move. Rosemary is a bit of a puppet. Of their relationship, Fitzgerald writes that Rosemary “tried to think with her mother’s mind” (39) and, furthermore, “Rosemary had never done much thinking, save about the illimitability of her mother’s perfections” (40). Rosemary and her mother are tied-up to such a degree that Rosemary is desperate to find something to break the bond, for someone to achieve greater significance in her life than Elsie. This is why she is so intent on sleeping with Dick; it is all an effort to sever the umbilical cord and gain independence.
As Rosemary attempts this division with her mother and Nicole deals with her own “daddy” issues, the psychology of Freud cannot be avoided, nor can the psychology of Jung as the women readily assume the Dick’s anima projection. Burton points out that Fitzgerald was studying Jung at the time he was writing Tender is the Night; Fitzgerald was clearly cognizant of both Freud and Jung as he composed his fourth novel, and it would be a disservice to ignore their presence in the text.

Annotated Bibliography

Burton, Mary. "The Counter-Transference of Dr. Diver." ELH, 38.3 (1971): 459-471.
As the title suggests, Burton takes a critical look at the counter-transference of Dick Diver in Tender is the Night. Burton posits that Dick suffers from a classic case of counter-transference after taking Nicole as a patient. Burton discusses Dick’s path of self-destruction as he falls in love with and marries Nicole. Burton argues that Dick’s adultery with Rosemary is, in fact, a product of the counter-transference. To fully assume the role of Devereaux Warren (the role that Nicole has transferred upon him), he must commit incest, which he does with Rosemary, who is, figuratively, America’s daughter and Daddy’s Girl. Additionally, Burton analyzes Dick the therapist in light of Fitzgerald’s own interaction with the work of Jung and Freud.

Horrocks, Roger. Freud Revisited: Psychoanalytic Themes in the Postmodern Age. Hampshire: Palgrave, 2001.
In this 21st century novel (ironically dedicated to the author’s mother), Horrocks positions Freud in the realm of modernism and postmodernism, and delves into the more savory of this theories. Horrocks successfully addresses criticism of Freud, and, moreover, analyzes the place of Freud in psychology today. I focused mainly on chapters nine and ten, “Contradictions in Sexuality,” and “Femininity, Feminism and Psychoanalysis” respectively. Herein, Horrocks writes that: “Freud’s out-and-out sexual etiology seems quite inadequate today, his stress on the instincts and on sex remains an important strand in the therapeutic armoury” (118). This quote speaks to the novel as a whole, and Horrocks attempt to reify Freud’s relevance today.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. Tender is the Night. New York: Scribner, 1933.
This novel is, of course, my primary text and what I would argue is the strongest of Fitzgerald’s five novels. Utmost of its concerns are the elusiveness of beauty and the shallowness of everything. This novel represents modernism at its finest; we learn through Dick and that all hope is dashed, and yet the world still turns, left with a man who is desperate, to the very last page, to make some sort of meaning out of the rubble around him. Narcissism and masks rule the day in this novel, just as they do in reality.

Jung, Carl. “Anima and the Animus.” Psychoanalysis and Woman: A Reader. Ed. Shelley Saguaro. New York: New York University Press, 2000. 158-75. Print.
In this article, originally published in 1917, Jung argues the existence of two inner principles that govern humans—the anima and the animus. The former is the inner feminine principle and the latter is, correspondingly, the masculine. Jung discusses the man’s suppression of the anima through the persona, which is, contrastingly, the mask the subject assumes for society.

Von Franz, Mary-Louise.“The Feminine in Fairy Tales.” Psychoanalysis and Woman: A Reader. Ed. Shelley Saguaro. New York: New York University Press, 2000. 187-201. Print.
The focus of this article is dissecting the nature of “woman” as evidenced in fairy tales, primarily that of Sleeping Beauty. Within this discussion, Von Franz brings up Jung’s anima, and, critical to my own argument, anima women. She also discusses those women who do not mold themselves to the anima projections of man.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Brief Jungian Look at Schaffer's Equus

In Peter Schaffer's "Equus," things get Jungian almost immdediately. In act 5, Dr. Dysart delivers a monologue describing a dream where he is the chief priest in a ritual sacrifice of 500 children. In it, he is wearing a Mycenaean mask, as are the other priests. Dysart is becoming nauseous, which is a problem, as he perceives that he will be the next sacrifice if his cohorts catch on to his discomfiture. Underneath his mask, Dysart explains, he is going green (and not in the recyclical sense). Unfortunately for Dysart, the mask begins to slide down, revealing his verdant sweat; blood lust swims in the others' eyes, and "they tear the knife out of [his] hand ... and [he wakes] up" (18).

Surely, Freud would have had much to say about this nightmare, but I think that Jung would have had his own ideas about Schaffer's initial dream scene. In 1917, Jung posited the existence of two inner principles: the anima and the animus. The anima is the feminine principle (as seen in males) and the animus in the masculine principle (as seen in females). Both of these are opposed to the persona, which is the outer "personality," adopted, necessarily, for survival in society; this persona is likened to a mask.

The dream of Dysart seems to align perfectly with this idea; if his persona falls away, there will be dire consequences. If his anima is revealed, his masculinity will be questioned (he is the patriarchal figure of the dream) and Dysart says that if the others even glimpse what is behind the mask, he will be next on the stone. This dream reifies Jung's assertion that the persona is critical to survival, and also illuminates the dangerous nature of the anima.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Deconstructing Dance

Anything can be a text; it is important, then, to apply the principles of theory not only to written texts, but to those that move and sway--namely, to dance. Tango is the perfect fodder for Gender Theory; ballet is rife with material for the New Critics; salsa could be successfully viewed in terms of Postcolonialism or Orientalism, etc. But what of poststructuralism? How do dance and theory align herein?

Modern dance, alongside modern literature, sought to bend the rules that had so long been cast over the field of dance. The balletic hegemony was turned on its head as rigidity and tradition were joined by freedom and play in movement; lines, literally, became bent.

If perhaps not the civilian, any dancer, at least, can recognize modern dance. But what of postmodern dance? Does such a thing even exist? Indeed it does.

Jacques Derrida writes of différance, exploding Plato's notions of the metaphysical. The cave is rendered meaningless, and the notion of a transcendental signified is obliterated. There is, it seems, no more truth in the outside of the cave then on the inside, as to even make such a distinction between the two necessitates the preceding of spatial differentiation before metaphysics. Derrida robs modernists of truths and structuralists of firsts and originals. Thoughts and ideas, just like language, are governed by laws of signs.

The text known as dance was not exempt from Derrida's discovery. As the "internal" became as suspect as the "external," the "trained" dancer became as worthy as the "untrained." What, asks the postmodernist, is not dance? Steve Paxton, a postmodern dancer, presented the eating of a sandwich as a dance. Notions of stage were questioned as impromptu performances on lawns and in churches became the thing to do. Music was replaced with silence or white noise, movement with stasis. There are instances of actual fornication, too, being presented as dance. Modernists would balk, asking perhaps, is nothing sacred anymore?

In the poststructuralist ideology, the answer is no. Nothing is sacred any longer. All is an endless series of signs. I (the poststructuralist) only know that this is first position because it is not second position. I only know that this is ballet because it is not jazz. I can only know that this subject is Isadora Duncan because she is not Margot Fonteyn, and in either case, I (the poststructuralist) cannot classify either as dancer or non-dancer because that would assume there are inherent, "inner," unsubstantiated, assumed, Platonistic qualities in perhaps one and not the other.

Just as you dance any step on any count, you can analyze any text with any theory.