Term Paper: Psychoanalysis and Literature Narrative

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[. . .] She explores ideas including love and death, and examines cultural impacts on self-discovery. There are many feminist aspects prevalent in her works. The extent to which she utilizes a confessional technique, where she seeks to analyze the drives and needs that motivate characters by having them tell personal stories and confess strong feelings in which the characters sometimes aspire to atone for their ways, will also be explored in this work.

Understanding mother daughter relationships is important to understanding the interdependent association many young women have with their mothers as they grow older. The idea that a daughter is searching for autonomy yet facing inhibition of her own identity is prevalent in many works.

Many novelists attempt to solve what is considered a complex problem related to mother daughter relationships. Carol Boyd discusses mothers and daughters in a similar fashion. In an article entitled: "Mothers and Daughters: A Discussion of Theory and Research" Ms. Boyd focuses on the uniqueness of mother daughter relationships, and claims that many young daughters feel inhibited by their mothers yet intimately bound to them, suggesting deep psychological binds (Jishka, 2004).

Boyd (1989) also admits that at some point daughters inevitably attempt to break away from the mother daughter relationships in order to create their own identity. This sociological and psychoanalytic approach to mother daughter relationships is also evidenced by Nancy Chodorow as Boyd points out in her work, who states that "the mother is the early care giver and primary source of identification for all children" (Boyd, 1989, p.292, from Jishka, 2004).

Boyd also cites Fischer who conducted research that maintains that mothers and daughters continue to identify with each other yet struggle to separate themselves from one another throughout the course of time (Boyd, 1989; from Jishka, 2004).

This idea is commonly examined by psychoanalytic theorists and sociologists. Part of the aim of this research is to uncover the extent to which Mansfield and Kincaid expand upon these ideas regarding the mother-daughter bond in their works.


The methodology I intend to employ will include qualitative analysis of literary works and psychoanalytic theories combined as part of an exploratory research project. A purely experimental methodology is impossible in this type of investigation because of the nature of historical works of literature. The study is primarily exploratory in nature, thus quantitative analysis is not feasible.

To establish a relationship between psychoanalytic perspective and narrative form, I must examine in detail the effects and employment of various narrative techniques on psychoanalytic character development.

Study Parameters/Population

To do this, a close examination and reading of the short stories of Katherine Mansfield, particularly "Prelude" and "At the Bay" and examination of Kincaid's works "Lucy" and "Annie John" will be conducted.

The aim of the study is to examine the extent to which narrative techniques and methods including use of accretion and autobiographical forms among others are used in the works selected. A close examination of psychoanalytic aspects of mother daughter bonds in relation to narrative forms including the concept of the search for identity and femininity will be examined. Particularly, close examination of the theories of Montrelay and Lacan will be examined, so that a theory may be formulated regarding psychoanalytic perspective and narrative form.

The author proposes that strong feminist idealisms and the psychoanalytic concept of a search for a unique identity are employed by the authors selected in their attempt to define and describe mother daughter relationships. Psychoanalytic theory and examination of narrative form will be employed to this extent.


Body, C.J. (1989). "Mothers and Daughters: A Discussion of Theory and Research." Journal of Marriage and the Family, (May) pp. 291-301

Bonheim, H. (1982) "The Narrative Modes: Techniques of the Short Story." Cambridge University Press.

Jiska. (2004). "Mother-Daughter Fictions." [Online] Available:


Kincaid, J. (1986). "Annie John." New York: New American Library

Kincaid, J. (1990). "Lucy." New York: Farra, Strause, Giroux

N.A. (March, 2003). "On Katherine Mansfield's Stylistic Maturation." [Online] Available:


O'Sullivan, V. (1975). "The Magnetic Chain: Notes and Approaches to K.M." In Landfall, V 29:2 (June). 114: pp. 95-131

Literature/Psychoanalysis [END OF PREVIEW]

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