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Lacanian Psychoanalytical Analysis Of “Young Goodman Brown”

890 words - 4 pages

Psychoanalytic criticism is a literary interpretation founded by Sigmund Freud with significant contributions being made by Carl Jung and Jacques Lacan. Freud places importance on the reality vs. pleasure principles, often resulting in repression and denial which then leads to the subconscious projecting our repressed pleasures (often sexual) in our dreams. Jung takes a more analytical approach asserting that our dreams include more than just sexual imagery, that mythological images (which he refers to as archetypes) are expressed as well. Lacan suggests that we have an innate need to feel “whole” yet the reality is that we are fractured beings. This fracture causes feelings of “lack” which ...view middle of the document...

He lived in a quiet Salem village with authority figures he respected and admired “the good old minister,” and an “excellent old Christian [lady].” Yet in spite of all these things Young Goodman Brown was fractured, feeling a lack and somehow desiring more. Whether it was simply further knowledge he sought, we know not. However, one thing remains certain; it was his quest for wholeness that led him into the woods that fateful evening.
His desire became a driving force that propelled him into the woods of uncertainty and out of the safe, comforting arms of his young wife, which causes him to enter the “mirror stage.” Almost immediately he comes across a man who joins him for a good length of his journey. The question we are left asking is whether this “fellow-traveler” is a friend or foe? I would suggest friend as he is merely a projection of Browns mirrored self. This companion is described as “bearing a considerable resemblance to him [Brown]” and that “they might have been taken for father and son.” While Brown represents all things good and innocent, coming from “a race of honest men and good Christians,” the fellow-traveler “had an indescribable air of one who knew the world,” symbolizing all that Brown is not. The two seemingly binary opposites quite nicely fit together making the ideal, whole, completed being.
As the two journey down the path Brown’s companion provides him with a series of thought provoking encounters with figures of parental authority who Brown comes to realize are already well acquainted and indeed appear to be friends with “the devil.” His first being with Goody Cloyse a “very pious and exemplary dame” for “she had...

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