Lucy Sigmund Freud (1856-1949)

Sigmund Freud is commonly known as "the father of psychoanalysis." This theory and technique was at the forefront of psychology around 1900, and psychoanalysis continues to be employed in clinical contexts to relieve ills and cure neuroses. Without being trained by psychoanalysts, many literary critics have imported psychoanalytic theory to interpret literature, culture, and society, on the premise that authors consciously or unconsciously encode elements that can be uncovered by the theory. Some commonly imported aspects of the theory include Freudian slips (unintentional but meaningful word choices), the Oedipus complex (unresolved sexual and family issues from childhood, such as when a child rivals the same-sex parent for the other parent's affection), and the id-ego-superego division of the mind.

In his major work The Interpretation of Dreams (1899), Freud uses self-analysis of his own dreams after his father's death as the basis for much of his theory. Identifying dreams as unconscious representations of unfulfilled desires, Freud asserts that the mind encodes dreams in a way that can be decoded. A psychoanalytic reading of Lucy's dream at the end of "Poor Visitor," for example, might reveal an unconscious sexual desire for Lewis, who doubles as a missing father figure.