Psychological Approach to Writings

These genres can be interpreted from a psychological approach method.

In the Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature by Michael Meyer, Sigmund Freud introduces psychological theories and interpretations of the human behavior, nearly inevitable that most people have some familiarity with his ideas concerning dreams, unconscious desires, and sexual repression, as well as terms used for different aspects of psycho-the-id, ego, and superego. The psychological approaches are used to describe and analyze the reader’s personal responses to a text. Critics use such approaches to explore the motivations of characters and the symbolic meanings of events, while biographers speculate about writer’s own motivations conscious or unconscious in literary work. Freud also develops a concept of what he called the Oedipus complex which is a complex predicated on a boy’s unconscious rivalry with his father for his mother’s love and his desire to eliminate the father in order to take his father’s place with his mother. Also, there is a female version known as the Electra complex, a term used to describe a daughter’s unconscious rivalry for her father instead of the mother (Meyer 1510). One of the approaches which I will discuss is psychological criticism found in these short stories and poems that I have read.

In the short fictional story, Killings, by Andre Dubus, the author uses an approach of psychological criticism with great amount of some compelling and dramatic scenes. It appears as if Dubus strategy to developing the characters and settings are from a similar background of his family and home or how he uses his mind by extending itself to draft up some unusual scenes. Although the author is so careful with his themes and plot, his approach to developing the story is not chronological, but is of an order that plays with one’s mind psychologically. The author forces the critic to stay with the story until the end. His style of Oedipus complex is overwhelming that even I myself was trapped reading it. At first, I started assuming who was the killer or killers, and the more I read the short compelling story, the more I ended up changing my mind and then assuming another character. It is not until I reached the end when all the pieces of the puzzle fit together and I made sense of what he is doing to my mind. The author did a good job holding me to the end. I consider this story frightening and could be a reality and it is possible that something of this sort may have taken place in the author’s hometown.

Another example with an approach of psychological criticism is Faulkner’s short fiction, Barn Burning. Both this story and the Killings share some similar straits in which the characters suffer from deep emotional problems. In the Barn Burning, the father of the boy possesses some hidden straits of child’s brute force and ignorance who seeks shelter from his son. Even though the father is the man, it turns out that he is actually the child and the son is the man. The possessive attitude of the father is a sign of weakness and not wanting his son to speak by driving fear into his son with an amazing stare made him the father a very poor character. It is evident as to the culture the father grew up was a little different than his son and any hope of sinking the father would have come from the son and not from the father’s generation.

The poem, After Making Love We Hear Footsteps, by Galway Kinnell is one of home and family. Since this poem is a condensed form of literature, it does not give much of a clue about the character. Yet, it is written in an informal style with well put together diction. It is also a simple reading which is very easy to understand but only in the poet’s eyes can the poem be interpreted. This poem also follows the psychological approach. A critic will assume that a married couple is making love during the night and the young child is bothered by the movements and sounds coming from them in his dream. The child being afraid leaves his room to be with his parents where he could find comfort. As a critic, I am moved not so much of the couple making love but the child needing attention and wanted to be protected. My understanding is that everyone desires to be loved even as a child and everyone needs someone to comfort them as protection.

Finally, the last poem on my list is the Rite of Passage by Sharon Olds written by Sharon Olds in 1983. In this poem, the character transforms the young boys as young adults because they carry the same attitude even at an early age. They are aggressive, mucho, and wanting to be in control. From a psychological standpoint, the tendency to kill can be found in any one if it gets a chance to reveal itself and it will show up as early as possible in childhood. In spite of boys are going to be boys, Olds made it clear when putting a small group of boys together, and listening to their stories, one can get a real understanding of what the mind is capable of doing. The attitude will continue the same way in adults also. Some may say it does not mean anything when a child uses the phrase, “I can kill a two year old”. In Olds’ mind, that kind of behavior is no joke. The potential for a seven year old with that kind of mind set is very dangerous.

From all these short stories and poems, which are classified as psychological criticism, they do share some deep emotional social problems. The Rite of Passage gave us an example of what is in the mind of a young child and the Killings demonstrate the same attitude as adult. Society must take a good look as to how young people are raised because all these writings that I have read seem to portray the evils of society. From anger, murder, and the will for survival are all part of human behaviors. Again, how these authors play out some amazing characters also makes on wonders where their minds are coming from. Barn Burning and After Making Love We Hear Footsteps, are more subtle but they leave me in suspicion. In fact, all these home and family category of poems or short stories were very interesting, after you finished reading the., It left a lasting impact on your thoughts and feeling mental and physical that you will never forget.

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