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The interlocking domains of desire and language: A Lacanian reading of D. H. Lawrence's major novels

Seung Hyun Hong, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

The psychoanalytic criticism of Lawrence has been a familiar one, relying on Freudian interpretation and Kleinian theory, but in my dissertation I hope to cast fresh fight on D. H. Lawrence's works by borrowing Lacanian perspectives. Jacques Lacan's approach to refashioning Freudian theory can be applied to Lawrence's novels, which are an apt subject for reinterpretation due to their complexity and vitality. Whereas desire, for Lacan, is an illusion, a lack that can never be fulfilled, for Lawrence, desire offers the most real, life-giving depth to being. Despite their differences, Lawrence's unconscious desires are revealed through language, because, in Lacan's view, the unconscious is structured like a language. ^ In my first chapter, on Sons and Lovers, I will look at Paul Morel's frustration and desire in terms of Lacan's “mirror-stage” by analyzing his relationship with his mother. The inordinate love between mother and son produces the son's nagging confusion concerning who he is and what he does. Chapter 2, on Women in Love, shows how Rupert Birkin's desire is continuously deferred in terms of Lacan's concept of “metonymy” and “metaphor.” Due to Birkin's contradictory chains of thought and his inconsistencies, his desire, like metonymy, is constantly delayed, defying definition. In chapter 3, by posing a challenge to Western phallogocentrism similar to that posed by Luce Irigaray, a post-Lacanian feminist, I will attempt to elucidate Kate Leslie's own desire in The Plumed Serpent. While I will draw on Irigaray's theory of the “divine,” “jouissance,” and “sexual difference,” this chapter reveals that Irigaray transcends Lacan's limitation in understanding women's “other jouissance” and unique sexuality. In the final chapter, I hope to explore Lady Chatterley's Lover in the light of Lacan's concept, “women's other jouissance” as well as “the Real order,” the domain of the previously unspoken, unwritten. Throughout my discussion, I attempt to explore Lacan's basic premises and organizing concepts, which can be the critical tools for a new reading of Lawrence's fictions. ^

Subject Area

Literature, English

Recommended Citation

Hong, Seung Hyun, "The interlocking domains of desire and language: A Lacanian reading of D. H. Lawrence's major novels" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9991992.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI9991992

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