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Application of Psychological Lens to Novels to Understand Love

The theme of love has been vastly explored in literal works. Owing to the complexity of love as a theme, novels best represent love with some degree of realism, thereby enhancing our understanding of the concept. In novels, love is explored both in the romantic and platonic sense. Love can be between a woman and a man or a boy and a girl. It can also be between parents and their children or one friend and another. Despite the best efforts of most novels to delve into and expound on the concept, a comprehensive understanding and definition of love still need to be discovered today. Literal lenses provide a specific vantage point from which readers can zero in on elements presented in the text. Reading a text from a particular literal lens allows the reader to hone in on patterns that develop across the text. There are several literal lenses that a reader can wear. One of the most extensive literal lenses used in analyzing novels is the psychological lens. The psychological lens considers how the human mind and personality influence thoughts, actions, and behaviour. The psychological lens considers the role of the unconscious and parts of the mind such as the id, the ego, and the superego affects feelings and behavior. Given that love involves emotions and feelings, the psychological lens provides a mechanism through which the concept can be analyzed. Psychological theories such as psychoanalysis and attachment theory agree that love is eternal and an eternal state. In addition, psychological theories suggest that love has both positive and negative effects. The application of the psychological lens to novels depicts love as an eternal, unconditional state fostered by two or more individuals, resulting in negative and positive consequences.

Khalid Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns best depicts love as an eternal, unconditional state with both positive and negative effects. In the novel, several characters confess and prove their love for others despite the extensive pain they receive as a result. Love is presented as a personal choice offered freely without considering what the other party is offering back. This is set early in the novel when Mariam continues to love Jalil, her illegitimate father, despite the sorrow that he has put her through. Despite only seeing her father once a week and against her mother’s advice, Mariam grows fond of her father and chooses to travel to Herat by herself to see her father. Mariam even forgives her father when her mother commits suicide. Mariam also shows unconditional love to Laila, her platonic friend and co-wife. Mariam puts aside the fact that Laila chose to become her co-wife after she had been nursed back to life by Mariam following her injuries. In the end, Mariam’s unconditional love towards others results in her death. She is executed after confessing to killing her husband to enable Laila and Tariq to escape. Psychological theories can be used to explain Mariam’s unconditional love towards others and her eventual demise as a result. Freud’s psychoanalysis theory explains that parts of the mind, id, ego, and superego, dictate our choices (Frosh, 20). Based on the theory, the id is concerned with the pleasure principle. Despite his unavailability, Mariam’s love for her father arises from her need for fatherly parental love. In addition, Freud’s Oedipus Complex, where a child forms an attraction to a parent of the opposite sex as a form of rebellion against a parent of similar sex can be used in explaining occurrences in the novel (Levinson et al., 11). This explains why Mariam chooses to ignore her mother’s advice and travel to seek her father. Mariam’s love for Laila is driven by the superego (Susanti, 1). As explained in Freud’s psychoanalysis theory, the superego represents an individual’s sense of morality (Niaz et al., 36). Despite Laila’s betraying Mariam by agreeing to be married by Rasheed., Mariam sets aside the hard feelings and chooses to be kind to Laila.

Gabriel Garcia’s Love in Time of Cholera delves on the theme of love as a conscious choice and eternity of true love. In some sense, Ariza and Fermina’s love can be an eternal one as it stands the test of time. Despite the resistance from Fermina’s father and Daza’s eventual marriage to a wealthy scientist, her love with Ariza eventually finds a way as they navigate towards each other in old age. The theme of love being unconditional is evident in the novel. At the beginning of the novel, Ariza and Fermina demonstrate love towards each other despite the distance (Márquez, 18). The occurrences in the novel demonstrate that once a choice has been made, a strong relationship will bind people together. The concept of id as defined by Freud in his psychoanalytical theory can be used in explaining the love that Fermina and Ariza shared during their youth. The id part of the mind is principally driven by pleasure (Barry, 85). Ariza and Dana derive pleasure from the letters that they share with each other and the secrecy of their love. It is the desire for this pleasure that pushes the two to continue exchanging letters and getting engaged despite Fermina’s father disapproval of their relationship. It is no surprise that Fermina chooses to end her engagement to Ariza when she realizes that her relationship only serves the purposes of pleasure. As Freud’s psychoanalysis theory suggests, the superego serves to control the impulses of the id (Fainstein, 171). The superego results forces individuals to face the reality and act in a rational manner. When the reality hits Fermina, she chooses to end her engagement to Ariza (Krass, 814). It is the same reality that pushes Fermina to eventually begin genuinely loving Dr. Urbino. Initially, Fermina rejected Dr. Urbino’s advances (Márquez, 55). The initial years of their marriage was characterized by a lackluster love. However, as they share thoughts and the hardships of life together, their bond strengthens. This is a demonstration that love is more than a feeling. It depicts love as a conscious choice fostered by a commitment from two people.

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is, perhaps, the most famous love novel that captures the theme of love as unconditional state that if not controlled can result in tragedy. The love between Romeo and Juliet faced significant odds and was doomed to be a failure from the onset. The two were from warring families and were supposed to be sworn enemies. The Capulet and the Montague family had not seen eye to eye for years. Even servants from the two families were expected to be enemies (Shakespeare, 304). Despite this, Romeo and Juliet meet at a ball and fall in love with each other. They know that their love is illegitimate, but this does not stop them from marrying. A psychoanalysis of the love demonstrated by Romeo and Juliet highlight the role of the mind and free will in matters love. Both Romeo and Juliet had suitors or potential partners that would be considered worthy by their respective families. In addition, both were aware of the potential consequences of their love but still chose to pursue their love. The id part of the mind plays a significant role in pushing Romeo and Juliet to pursue the love that they had for each other. As a part of the mind that controls pleasure and pushes individuals to make decisions that are pleasurably, the id can result in individuals making irrational decisions (de Certeau, 37). For instance, when Romeo finds Juliet laying in a tomb, presumably dead, he decided to kill himself (Shakespeare, 366). When Juliet wakes up from her coma and finds Romeo dead besides her, she also decided to take her life. Romeo and Juliet’s unconditional love towards each other and their desire to continue deriving pleasure from their relationship is responsible for their eventual demise (Hooke, 303).

The concept of love is intricate that must be looked at from various lenses to be completely understood. Throughout history, novels have touched on the theme of love from various perspective. Some have presented love from the angle of dedicated friendships while others explore love from a romantic point of view. In all, love always presents both positive and negative consequences. Analyzing love as presented in novels from a psychological lens can help improve our understanding of love. The psychological lens considers how the human mind and personality control or influence decisions pertaining to love. From a psychoanalysis of the three novels, it is evident that love is an eternal unconditional state that can result in both negative and positive consequences.

Works Cited

Barry, Peter. “Psychoanalytic criticism.” Beginning theory (fourth edition). Manchester University Press, 2020. 97-122.

de Certeau, Michael. “Psychoanalysis and its History.” Grasping the World. Routledge, 2019. 36-50.

Fainstein, Abel. “On “The question of lay analysis” by Sigmund Freud.” On Freud’s “The Question of Lay Analysis”. Routledge, 2019. 168-191.

Frosh, Stephen. “Sigmund freud.” Routledge Handbook of Psychoanalytic Political Theory. Routledge, 2019. 19-30.

Hooke, Maria Teresa Savio. “Love, maternal love, romantic love, depressive love: a psychoanalytic perspective.” Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in China 3.2 (2020): 297-306.

Krass, Michael. “Love in the Time of Cholera.” (2021): 812-818.

Levinson, Nadine, et al. “Sigmund Freud and the psychology of women.” Female psychology: An Annotated Psychoanalytic Bibliography (2020): 3-21.

Márquez, Gabriel García. Love in the Time of Cholera. Vol. 235. Everyman’s Library, 1997.

Niaz, Azadkhan, Sultn Mohammad Stanikzai, and Javed Sahibzada. “Review of Freud’s psychoanalysis approach to literary studies.” American International Journal of Social Science Research 4.2 (2019): 35-44.

Hosseini, Khaled. A thousand splendid suns. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2009.

Shakespeare, William. “Romeo and juliet.” One-Hour Shakespeare. Routledge, 2019. 304-368.

Susanti, Nila. “Freud’s Defense Mechanism on Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns and Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.”


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