The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Unconscious Image of the Conscious Mind

The Unconscious Image of the Conscious Mind

“Psychology helps us to talk about what the novelist knows” (Fish and Perkins), as through the meticulous analysis of a literary work, its major themes or symbolism, one can theoretically reach at the personality and mind-frame of the author. It is via the use of literary psychoanalysis that The Picture of Dorian Gray can be read as the unconscious image of Oscar Wilde, whose major characters reflect, in fact, the internal conflicts of his own, struggling mind. The main trio that emerges from this arrangement: Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian Gray, and Basil Hallward, represents the human mind described by the Austrian psychologist, Sigmund Freud: made up of the id, ego, and superego.

Freud believed that no man is ever in his full mental capacity, or health, for that matter; likewise, the artist, “like the neurotic, is oppressed by unusually powerful instinctual needs which lead him to turn away from reality to fantasy” (Eagleton 179). Only in the safety of such an illusion, can the irrational, unconscious id surface in a character like Lord Henry, the symbol of those dark and mischievous forces, or men, who find ill pleasures in tormenting the weak and deceiving the inexperienced. Watching...

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