'The Psychoanalytic Approach is an excellent tool for reading between the lines'. Discuss with reference to one or more literary texts.
The Psychoanalytic theory refers to appeared during the Victorian era as a result of many scientists branching off into different areas of research, specifically into that of the brain and mind. Coined by Sigmund Freud, who developed this idea further than anyone, the approach mainly concerns ways in which we can treat psychopathology using methods such as free association, transference and recognition of influential childhood events.
The approach questions whether we can understand certain actions, feelings and thoughts from looking into the subconscious mind, which holds the unabashed desires our conscious mind seeks to suppress. In relation to literature, this approach can be applied in a similar way by reading beyond what is written on the page, and seeking to understand whether the author may or may not have intended a hidden, alternative meaning. With literature being considered a convergence between the subconscious and the conscious, and that 'words are destined to ambiguity', in the eyes of Freud, it is no wonder that this theory has sought to analyse what an author may be thinking while writing the text, and how their experiences have shaped it.
All texts, whether intentional or not, having the potential to be analysed in this way, with the author's own life taken into consideration, and their subconscious mind and how it might of shaped the text, and also the effects of the text on the reader, and what kind of thoughts and feeling it brings to mind, with influence from the subconscious. We are able to see how we can apply the Psychoanalytic Approach to a text clearly in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein because it explores many areas that Freud sought to understand, despite the novel being written before Freud's time. The novel explores morality, childhood, sexuality and the idea of what makes a human being, and these are all things Psychoanalysis explores while delving into the subconscious mind by making connections with external experiences, and in this respect, using the external experiences, which are the words written on the page, we can infer what really is written 'between the lines', or in the subconscious mind of the text.
According to Psycholgical theories, the mind and body converts unwanted subconscious thoughts and feelings to ones less extreme, in order to suppress them, and therefore we don't speak them directly from the subconscious mind; thus the passage from the subconscious mind to speech and writing is a rocky one. In comparing to modes of speech- Ordinary, which is what we use in everyday life to communicate with one another, and Literary, which is more directly attuned to the thoughts and feelings of the character (even more so in first person), it is logical to think that through literary text we can gain a better understanding of the subconscious mind. However, the difficulty lies in the fact that literary text is more pronounced and deliberate, whereas Ordinary speech has the potential for Freudian slips to occur, letting us in on snippets of the mind. Although literary texts frequently explore a character's mind, it is sometimes more difficult to relate this directly to the author's meaning, and the subconscious mind of the text. Yet in Frankenstein, Victor's mind is rampant with underlying meanings, put there by Shelley, and his character is a very useful one to use in exploring how we can use Pschoanalysic to read between the lines of a novel.
Victor's struggles with the creature's existence is what dominates the novel,and manifests itself…