A Lacanian Study of Motherhood in the Poems of William Wordsworth

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William Wordsworth was a prolific poet of the Romantic movement, perhaps best known for publishing Lyrical Ballads with friend and fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1798. These poems were written in what Wordsworth described as a ‘common tongue’ with a focus on themes often found in Romantic poetry, such as the pastoral, the mythical, fragmentation, heroism and satire. In Lyrical Ballads one recurring subject almost unique to Wordsworth in its passion and persistence is that of motherhood. The connection between womanhood and nature make it a frequently explored theme for many poets, such as Blake in his Songs of Innocence. However, I have chosen to focus on Wordsworth since motherhood is not only examined at great length in…show more content…
It takes place when the infant, between the ages of six and eighteen months, looks into a mirror and recognises its reflection. This may be traumatic for the child, since viewing a ‘whole’ image provokes the notion of the fragmented body, its own undeveloped form not yet fully under its control. However, ultimately this stage is one of liberation. The infant, for all its physical incapability is able to identify itself and yet it is free from its functions as a ‘subject’ that it will later undergo as it is indoctrinated into the world of language. This primary sense of ego in its own reality is later destroyed by social determination and the constructs of normality, putting the ‘I’ in a place of permanent discordance with reality. This disturbance is similar to Freud’s concept of the uncanny, described by Bennett and Royle as ‘...not just a matter of what’s weird and spooky, but has more to do specifically with a disturbance of the familiar’ . Instances of the uncanny emphasis this discrepancy between the world that our ego has constructed and the harsh truths we are faced with in the Real. At this point, the relationship between the child and its surroundings has changed. Where once the omnipotent mother served as its entire world, the infant now finds its mind and body (the motherless, ‘non-extended’ self) fused perilously at the mercy of a new world. However, our relation to the nature of this new world is distorted

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