Comparison of the Literature and Movie: Lust, Caution

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In the novel Lust, Caution by Eileen Chang, there are debates of the reason why Wang Jiazhi made the decision to warn Yi and to let him go, which is not only a betrayal to her mission but also a suicidal action which eventually led to her death. This action of hers involves multiple psychological origins from Wang’s childhood memory and family structure through out her experience of being a student with her peers to her subtle relationship with Yi during her spying mission. Such experiences formed significant psychological defenses within her according to the psychoanalysis of Freud.

The movie Lust, Caution provides a much fuller explanation and details about what the author of book did not offer thoroughly, which is the family background of Wang Jiazhi. There is a scene in the movie that Wang is sitting in a shabby room and trying to organize her word for the wedding greetings to her father who moved oversea years ago with her little brother when she was a child. The experience of her father’s leaving at her young age leads to her fear of abandonment after she grows up, the unshakable belief that her friends and loved ones cannot be trusted. The fact that her father brought her little brother with him but left her at home creates a further belief that she is less worthy than other people and, therefore, does not deserve attention, love, or any other life’s rewards, which is called low self-esteem in the psychoanalysis. Her fear of abandonment and low self-esteem add together and form her most essential mental defense: fear of intimacy, the chronic and overpowering feeling that emotional closeness will seriously hurt or destroy her and that she can remain emotionally safe only remaining at an emotional distance from others at all times. These mental defenses of Wang appear in different areas in her personal and social life, and largely affect Wang in her processes of decision making.

In Wang’s social life, the main part of the cause of her solitude does...
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