Life

Exploring the Impact of Freud’s Oedipus Complex Theory on Eileen Chang and D.H. Lawrence’s Works through Their Biographies and Socio-Cultural Contexts

  Freud’s theory has had a huge impact on modern Western literature. His theory has been widely spread around the world and has profoundly influenced later literary creation and literary criticism. As the founder of the school of psychoanalysis, Freud proposed theories such as “unconscious”, “libido” and “dream interpretation”, which not only created a new field of psychological research and promoted the development of psychology, but also influenced the 20 century of literary creation. Eileen Chang and Lawrence were both Chinese and Western realist writers in the early 20th century. They had certain similarities in their growth experiences and family lives, and were influenced by Freud’s theory to varying degrees. Their works have made in-depth discussions on gender issues between men and women, and vividly described the relationship and psychology between the sexes.
“Oedipus Complex” and the connection between two writers

  ”Oedipus complex”, also known as “Oedipus complex”, is a term in psychoanalysis founded by Freud and is also one of its important theories. The term comes from the legend of the ancient Greek hero Oedipus, who accidentally killed his biological father and married his biological mother. Freud believed that this plot reflected the boy’s instinctive desire to love his mother and hate his father, and defined it as the “Oedipus complex.” Correspondingly, girls have the “Electra complex”, that is, the “Electra complex”. Freud believes that this instinctive desire has existed since ancient times and is inherited from the primitive. It is inevitable and irresistible. He mentioned: “A child’s choice between parents depends not only on his own sexual instinct, but also on the stimulation of the preferences presented by his parents.” The love mentioned here emphasizes the spiritual aspect of sexual impulses. content rather than physical and sensual needs. The “Oedipus complex” develops to different degrees in each person, and is closely related to family environment, personal factors, etc. In order to explore the abnormal love and abnormal psychology of the characters in Zhang Ailing and Lawrence’s novels, it is necessary to investigate the growth and creative experiences of the two writers.
  At the beginning of the 20th century, Freud’s psychoanalytic theory began to be introduced into China, and subsequently, works introducing and researching related theories appeared. After that, more and more literati and writers also applied Freudian psychoanalytic theory as a new literary technique in their works. Zhang Ailing was also influenced by Freud’s theory and applied it, “shown in the delicate psychological description and the use of metaphors to enrich the connotation of the story” (Xia Zhiqing). Lawrence is considered to be the faithful spokesperson of Freudian theory in the British literary world. Freud’s theories about human consciousness and unconsciousness, as well as spiritual phenomena involving sexual desire and sex such as “libido” and “Oedipus complex” are fully reflected in his novels.

DH Lawrence

  In addition to being influenced by Freudian theory, the two writers also have similarities in their growing environment and experiences. Zhang Ailing grew up in a deformed family. Her parents’ differences in personality, ideas, and educational concepts led to endless conflicts and quarrels after their marriage. Zhang Ailing’s father inherited the property of his ancestors, did not want to make progress, and had nothing to do all day long; while her mother was influenced by Western culture and had strong feminist pursuits. After being beaten and imprisoned by her father and stepmother, Zhang Ailing could not bear it and ran away from home to join her mother. Her parents’ unhappy marriage and traumatic childhood experiences set a desolate and pessimistic tone for Zhang Ailing’s creations. In her creations, many works show the abnormal psychology and abnormal love of characters in unhappy marriages.
  Contrary to Zhang Ailing’s childhood experience, Lawrence received extreme maternal love. His father was a miner who worked every day in an old mining area with roaring machines. His mother came from a middle-class family and had a completely different lifestyle from her husband. His mother liked to read and think about philosophy, literature and other issues. Although she lived in a mining area, she was always incompatible with the life of a miner. The differences in living habits and personalities between the two people caused discord between the couple, which caused Lawrence to live in the quarrels between his parents since he was a child. The disappointment in her husband and life made her mother pour her strong feelings into Lawrence. However, the excessive maternal love also affected his growth and the normal development of his feelings.

  According to Freud’s theory, the so-called “complex” is actually a tortuous manifestation of repressed desires, which will naturally be expressed in the field of art in some way. Freud believed that artists were “daydreamers” who vented their repressed impulses through creative work. The “Electra complex” and “Oedipus complex” in the works of Zhang Ailing and Lawrence also reflect the repressed emotions in their hearts to a certain extent. This emotion has been rooted in their subconscious minds since childhood. Zhang Ailing lacked the care of her mother in her childhood, and had a mixed love-hate relationship with her father. Although his father had many bad habits, he was still the one who depended on her. The deformed family made Zhang Ailing long for the love of her elders. It can also be seen from her later love affairs that she was specifically looking for men older than herself. This may have a lot to do with the lack of emotion and desire in her childhood. In contrast, Lawrence’s mother pinned her love and hope on Lawrence and had a strong possessive desire for her son. She hoped to keep her son firmly in her hands, and his love and marriage would also be the same. Being restrained by the mother. From this point of view, their creations on the themes of “Electra” and “Oedipus” are no coincidence. This may reflect their repressed psychology since childhood.
The reflection of “Oedipus complex” in works

  From the perspective of psychological criticism, Lawrence’s “Beautiful Woman”, “Sons and Lovers” and Zhang Ailing’s “The Golden Lock” and “Heart Sutra” and other works can be said to be good interpretations of Freud’s “Russian” in some places. Dipus complex” theory.
  Lawrence’s work explores a deformed “mother-son” relationship. These women who were disappointed with their husbands and unable to enjoy love poured all their emotions into their sons, trying to shape their sons into the image of their ideal husbands. Lawrence’s masterpiece “Sons and Lovers” has a strong autobiographical flavor, describing the abnormal love between Paul and his mother Mrs. Morel, as well as the emotional entanglement with Miriam and Clara. In the novel, Mrs. Morel’s marriage to her husband is a failure. She has a strong possessive desire for her son and hopes to keep her son firmly in her hands. This excessive love led Paul to also have a special attachment to his mother. The relationship between mother and son seems to hide some obscure emotions, and the mother subconsciously has a “love-child complex” that she herself cannot express. Freud believed that “if there is no deep love between husband and wife, then the child will be regarded as a substitute for the lost lover. This makes children more likely to develop this ‘Oedipus complex’.” Paul’s severe “Oedipus complex” and his mother’s long-term control of his feelings made it impossible for him to establish a normal love relationship with Miriam and others. Coerced by this love since childhood, he was unable to form an independent emotional world, nor could he devote himself to loving women other than his mother. The mother becomes the lover of the son, and the son is completely emotionally attached to the mother. The misalignment of family relationships and the vacancy of one party’s position contribute to the abnormal emotions among family members. The mother herself also hurt herself in the conflicting struggle with her son’s abnormal emotions, and finally died in depression. Lawrence’s other work “The Beautiful Lady” can be said to be a shortened version of “Sons and Lovers”. It tells the story of the “beautiful woman” Pauling who is good at maintaining her youth and the mental control of her son Robert. Robert was under the control of his mother, “like a weak flower facing the sun. He did not love his mother. He was bewitched by her, leaving only a lifelong confusion and inability to control himself.” Robert’s love instinct was suppressed and he could not stand on his own emotionally. Even if he fell in love with his cousin Cecilia, his mother’s control over Robert still prevented him from falling in love normally.

  In these two novels, the two mothers are unhappy in their marriages. When their lust and love cannot be satisfied, the mothers place their emotions on their sons. Due to the excessive expansion of mother-child love, a strong possessive mentality also appears. When the son is in a normal relationship, the mother will intervene, obstruct it in every possible way, and feel jealous of the relationship. The son has always had an inseparable spiritual connection with his mother, so much so that he has the desire to avoid love. Psychological defects.
  In novels similar to “Love Child Complex”, Eileen Chang and Lawrence have similar creations. The most representative theme of abnormal maternal love among Zhang Ailing’s works is “The Story of the Golden Lock”. The novel tells the story of the troubled life of Cao Qiqiao, a lower-class woman who was born in a sesame oil shop. When she was young, Cao Qiqiao was handsome and attracted many people to pursue her, and she was also full of longing for love. But then she married into a decadent feudal family. Her husband was a congestive man and unable to have a normal sex life. So she pursued her brother-in-law Jiang Jize, but due to feudal ethics, Jiang Jize rejected her. Unable to satisfy her love, she turned to pursuing money, but her irrepressible passion would always be vented in some way. This is first manifested in her subconscious possessiveness towards her son Changbai. As the only male in her life, she desperately wanted to keep her son. Her passion had been suppressed, and she kept inquiring about the privacy of her son and daughter-in-law after his marriage. She made their privacy known to the public without any cover-up, destroying their normal life. Life until the death of my daughter-in-law. A mother who is dissatisfied with her husband and marriage shows a strong and exclusive love for her son and wants to make up for the misfortune of her married life through her son’s love. This is a deformed maternal love. Secondly, Cao Qiqiao’s abnormality is also reflected in his strong opposition and destruction of his daughter’s marriage. When her daughter found her own happiness, she ruined her daughter’s happiness by fabricating the story of her daughter taking opium. Because of her own painful experience, she resented her daughter for having the love she had never gotten, so she tried every means to prevent her daughter from finding happiness. If Cao Qiqiao was more possessive of her son, then she was jealous of her daughter. As Freud said, this “complex” is a person’s instinctive heterosexual tendency. Boys conflict with their father when they are in love with their mother, and girls become their mother’s rival in love when they are in love with their father. This abnormal psychology finally made Cao Qiqiao bury his own misfortune with the happiness and life of his own children.
  In addition, Zhang Ailing’s “Heart Sutra” tells the story of the abnormal love between father and daughter, and is a work that expresses the “Electric Father Complex”. Xu Xiaohan, who is already in middle school, fell in love with his father Xu Fengyi, which caused a lot of emotional confusion and pain between father and daughter. Out of helplessness, his father fell in love with Lingqing, a classmate who looked similar to Xiaohan. Xu Xiaohan was in great pain and wanted to stop and destroy this relationship. However, in order to escape from the family, her father eventually eloped with Duan Lingqing, but her mother, who was once considered a love rival by Xiaohan, came to clean up the mess for her. In a sense, this work is an illustration of the “Oedipus complex.”
  From these novels, we can see that due to the inability to satisfy normal desires and the lack of normal parental love, when the “Oedipus complex” develops to the extreme, it will form a kind of abnormal psychology. Parental love, because of its dual existence, keeps children’s desire for love in a state of balance. The absence of one party will inevitably mean the strengthening of dependence on the other party. When this strengthening reaches a certain level, it forms a “complex” that is difficult to reverse, which in turn affects the normal development of the human body and mind.
Abnormal love in a abnormal society

  From the creations of the two writers, we can discover the writers’ personal psychological emotions contained in them, find the imprint of the writers’ personal childhood experiences in their works, and discover the subtle motivations deep in the writers’ creative psychology. Eileen Chang and Lawrence were influenced by Freud’s theory and would unconsciously conform to and apply Freud’s theory. However, their creations did not simply apply the theory, but dug into the underlying social issues on this basis, revealing their profound originality. social criticism.
  Most critics believe that Lawrence’s insights into psychological consciousness were clearly indebted to Freud. However, Freund’s theory can only help us analyze the psychological mechanism of the “Oedipus complex” from a psychological perspective. As for how it finally develops into a deformed and unsound personality emotion, we need to look at the social and family environment, etc. factors to think about. While Lawrence vividly depicts the ambivalence of the characters, he also profoundly reveals the social roots of the Morel couple’s marital crisis and Paul’s “Oedipus complex” – the deformed industrial civilization suppresses people’s normal emotions. In his works, Lawrence depicts the poverty in the mining areas of central England and the miserable and depressing lives of coal miners. Such an environment suppresses people’s spirits and binds their bodies and minds. In this mechanical civilization, the oppressed Morel can only escape the pain of life through alcoholism. Mrs. Morel, who has lost hope in life, places her hope on her son, hoping that his son will realize her dream of marriage for her. Social ambitions that are difficult to achieve in life. The author profoundly reveals the social roots of the protagonist’s emotional distortion, thus integrating the psychological exploration and social criticism of the work.
  In addition, there are obvious differences between Lawrence’s exploration of human nature and Freud’s theory. Lawrence believes that the root cause of gender problems is not the repression of desires in childhood, but that machine civilization has damaged human nature; as long as men and women achieve a physical and spiritual balance, they can be in a state of harmony and various problems will disappear. can be solved. In the creation of his novels, Lawrence always centered on the theme of “denial of modern rationality and industrial civilization” and “return to and yearning for natural instinct”. In the novel “The Beautiful Woman”, the “Beautiful Woman” Pauling attempts to control her son Robert through money and possess her son spiritually. Pauling’s niece Cecilia saw Pauling’s nature of sucking the lives of others as nourishment, so she began to resist and awaken Robert’s sleeping self. The novel exposes the oppression that modern industrial society has on people’s spirits and bodies, and criticizes the alienation of people by industrial civilization. Modern industrial civilization not only destroys the harmony between all things in nature, between people, and between people and nature, but also destroys people themselves. of integrity. In this rigid and mechanical modern civilization, people have never been able to enjoy the dual liberation of body and soul.
  On the other hand, Zhang Ailing’s creations reveal the oppression of women in the old society under the transition of new and old civilizations with the unique delicacy and sensitivity of a woman. In “The Story of the Golden Lock”, the reason why Cao Qiqiao changed from a poor woman to a terrible woman is precisely because the decadent feudal society led her to destruction step by step. She was first victimized by the marriage system and was forced to marry a disabled young man from a wealthy family. Her husband’s disability prevented her from obtaining normal sexual needs. Coming from a humble background, she was ostracized and discriminated against in this big family. Her paralyzed husband and disharmonious family gradually squeezed her soul. The long-term depression, suffering and the exaggeration of the feudal family atmosphere gradually distorted her humanity. In this repressed environment, she exerted her unsatisfied lust on her son, resented her daughter for finding happiness, and constantly tortured her children’s marriage. The root cause of all this, in addition to her own psychological distortion, is more due to the unfair feudal society and family. The “cannibal” environment eventually turns a normal person into a “cannibal” person. “Heart Sutra” also explores the suppressed subjective status and subjective consciousness of women in the feudal patriarchal society by describing the abnormal love between father and daughter. Mothers and daughters, including the daughter’s classmates, have all become victims of the patriarchal society. The three women fought with each other for one man, kept silent, and were hurt to varying degrees. However, the man chose to avoid and transfer his emotions, resulting in The tragedy of three women.

  Freud’s “Oedipus complex” theory can help us better analyze the character’s psychology from a psychological perspective and explore the physiological and psychological mechanisms of this “complex”. But we cannot attribute all the tragedies of character and fate to physiological and psychological factors, while ignoring the social significance behind a novel. The novels of Lawrence and Eileen Chang are based on the cloak of “Oedipus complex” and start from the social environment in which they live, and give a true description of the times and characters in which they lived. Through the abnormal love described in the work, the novel reveals how the abnormal society that alienates the relationship between people cruelly suppresses and distorts human nature, and criticizes the decadent social system and rigid marriage model at that time, which has profound social critical significance.

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