The Search of Self Through the Discovery of the Shadow and the Unconscious
If you see a wallet on the ground and discover there is an enormous amount of money in it, what would you do? Do you think you'd return it, or possibly keep the money for yourself? How would you feel about it emotionally afterward? For the sake of an argument let us say you would keep the money. How would you then feel if someone you hate also had the same circumstance happen to them? Would you feel like them keeping the money would further prove why you dislike that person? Did you not also keep the money yourself? In the book Psychoanalysis Terry Eagleton states that "Lacan permits us to explore the relations between the unconscious and human society... the unconscious is not some kind of... private region 'inside' us, but an effect of our relations with one another"(Eagleton 150). The unconscious is part of your "self" and can be negative or positive; the negative side that we produce is part of our ego. Ego is defined as "the complex factor to which all conscious contents are related" the ego is only one half of a whole and that whole is the "self" (Jung 139). Our ego is broken into three sections and the section most apparent in this case is the shadow. The reason why your peer keeping the money creates resentment in you is because of the shadow, it is a part of you that you keep in your unconscious, a part you don't like and when it is revealed to you through someone else you exchange the inward hatred and replace it with outward disdain for the person that has committed the act.
Self is best described as the combination of your conscious and unconscious becoming one in a balanced state. In Coraline by Neil Gaimen and A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin the shadow becomes a physical thing, an actual entity. The genre itself, fantasy, has its own identity crisis which further adds to the lack of self in the novels. This should not make these stories any less real, the premise of both stories, of battling the shadow and overcoming the lack of identity to find the self is still a very real thing as explained by J.R.R. Tolkien "fairystories deal largely... with simple or fundamental things, untouched by fantasy, but these simplicities are made all the more luminous by their setting" (Tolkien 20). The self being fragmented by not knowing one’s unconscious is a recurring theme in both stories. The shadow becoming and entity in the stories further explains the concept of your conscious latching on to an outward vessel to express disdain for. The conscious and unconscious meld together to form one’s identity, the conscious mind uses one's life experiences and natural behavior as an identifier while the unconscious mind creates the ego and the shadow, both of which create the idea of self. In order to gain an identity you much overcome and accept your shadow as part of you, then and only then will you truly discover your “self”.
In Coraline a lonely and ignored little girl is an only child of two, negligent, parents. She has just moved into a new house and while exploring her new home she finds a door which sometimes, and progressively more while the story continues, leads her into an alternate world where her desire for excitement is fulfilled. While in this world the narrator states, "There were all sorts of remarkable things in there she'd never seen before... this is more like it, thought Coraline” (Gaimen 30). This is Coraline’s conscious self, her excitement, her explorer, the one that doesn’t mind a new world, a girl who accept the oddities just so that she can discover all of them herself. This world was created by the other mother, a witch, who at this point has not revealed herself to Coraline as a soul consuming entity. Her brand new home put up an image of perfection that clouded her judgment. These illusions created by the other mother make it harder for Coraline to discover herself because she is only seeing what the other...
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