Poe and Psychoanalytic Criticism Essay

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The School of Psychoanalytic Criticism “The Cask of Amontillado” and its author Edgar Allan Poe are excellent references for applying psychoanalytic interpretations to an author and his work. Psychoanalytic criticism uses a Freudian theory of a three level psyche, the ego, the super-ego, and the id to gain a better understanding of the deeper or hidden meaning within literature and an understanding of the psychological identity of the author, the characters or the reader. Freud theorized that our psyche has three levels. The ego is the rational part of our psyche known as the consciousness. The super-ego is the part of our psyche that is dictated by the values of first our parents and then later society known as the conscience. The…show more content…
Poe lost his mother at a young age and then was abandoned by his father. He then was adopted by a wealthy merchant with an iron fist. Taking this into account critics might theorize that his inner competition to please his father but also be a writer was repressed and then manifested itself in this short story, where his father is Fortunato, walled away leaving him free to pursue his literary career. This could also be a metaphor for when he broke all ties to his adopted father. Freudian theory deals with the premise that some of our desires, wishes, fears and memories may be hard to cope with and so we eliminate it from our conscious mind through repression. “But this doesn’t make it go away: it remains alive in the unconscious, like radioactive matter buried beneath the ocean” (Barry 96). Fortunato is buried alive deep in the catacombs beneath the river where poisonous nitre grows. This is a clever use of symbolism and metaphors to demonstrate the burying of our darkest human motives, walling them up to hide from our ego or conscious being, hence repression is born. “My heart grew sick-on account of the dampness of the catacombs. I hastened to make an end of my labour. I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up. Against the new masonry I reerected the old ramport of bones. For half a century no mortal has disturbed them” (Poe 62) Infantile sexuality is a Freudian concept
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