Short notes on manner and general contents of psychoanalytical criticism


Psychoanalytic critics follow a general scheme in their analysis of literary texts. The focus is primarily the individual consciousness – of the author or the character – rather than social conditions.

They assume that all texts have an explicit content and a hidden one. These correspond to the author’s conscious and unconscious respectively. They locate in texts images of the libidinal evolution (oral, anal, genital). They locate the Oedipal figures of authority and oppression in the work.

Slips, words games, unguarded sexual symbols (phallic ones such as the gun or the tower, or images of the womb such as caves and hollows) are seen as symptomatic of the author’s or character’s psychic fantasies/fears. Neurosis and sublimation, repression and dream-states are all read into a text’s imagery. Sleep, vampirism, symbols of penetration and conquest, feminization are frequently analyzed as masking deeper anxieties of sexuality, rape and trauma and mother-fixation in texts.

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