Roles and Positions of Women in Kinship Structures Levi Strauss and Freud

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  • Topic: Sigmund Freud, Penis envy, Incest taboo
  • Pages : 5 (1854 words )
  • Download(s) : 54
  • Published : May 28, 2013
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Question: Write an essay showing how Freud and Levi-Strauss’ explanations of the roles and positions of women in kinship structures can be used to examine how female characters (and their actions and relationships) are presented in texts we have studied this semester (Weeks 2- 14). You must discuss TWO or THREE texts and make clear what parts of Freud and Levi-Strauss’ theories you are using. Sigmund Freud and Claude Levi-Strauss explain the roles and positions of women in particular kinship structures and allow their theories to be presented in two apparent texts. This paper will explore the intention behind Freud’s idea of the ‘Oedipus Complex’ within his theory of ‘Infantile Sexuality’. This can be examined through circumstances in his personal life, and also with great relevance to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Following this, a theory, which is further researched by several anthropologists, is Levi-Strauss’s “Incest Taboo” within kinship structure. Through Sophocles’ Oedipus the King the significance is greatly seen through the incestuous marriage. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was the founder of psychoanalysis. From his reading of literature, among other sources, Freud developed a theory of “Infantile Sexuality” and within it, the idea of the ‘Oedipus Complex’. In Sophocles’ Greek tragedy Oedipus The King, the hero, who had grown up apart from his parents, unwittingly kills his father and marries his mother. Freud proposed that the potential psychological health of an adult man depended on whether or not he would be able to overcome, and to fully contain the subconscious of two very influential infant desires; to have sex with his mother, and to also to kill his father (Freud 374). According to Freud’s theory, mental health in an adult male depended on the ability to resolve the infantile jealousy, which the infant boy had felt for his father’s physical relationship with his mother (Freud 273). Freud’s development of the ‘Oedipus Complex’ can be supposed as coming from his own experiences. As a young male infant, he had witnessed his mother naked and had developed some sort of sexually stimulation. Additionally, when his father passed away it aroused recollections of the hatred he had for his father, and how he use to visualize his death. He mentioned, “I have found a love of the mother and a jealously of the father in my own case too, and now believe it to be a general phenomenon of early childhood, even if it does not occur so early as in children who have been made hysterics”(Berger 81). Each and every child is challenged with the duty of grasping the id’s urges for the incestual relations of the Oedipus, and failure to do so resulted in a basis for neurosis. However it could be argued that the feelings never leave but rather become repressed. Regardless, the ‘Oedipus Complex’ became the basis of many of his theories and helped to make astonishing developments in the area of dream analysis. Through William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Shakespeare depicts Hamlet with similar types of behaviors and characteristics that Freud discussed within the “Oedipus Complex”. Hamlet’s melancholy is a neurosis caused by his unsettled incestuous feelings towards his mother; furthermore, he can’t kill Claudius his uncle since he isolates with him, for Claudius has accomplished the exact things he would desire to do himself – that is kills his father, King Hamlet, and have sexual relations with Hamlet’s Mother, Gertrude. As Freud notes “the play is built up on Hamlet’s hesitations over fulfilling the task of revenge that is assigned to him, but its texts offers no reasons or motives for these hesitations’ (Freud 298). Within one of the most famous scenes in the play, the closest scene, the complete extent of Hamlet's feelings towards his mother are conveyed which allow Freud’s “Oedipus Complex” to be evident due to the fact that Hamlet makes several sexual insinuations. In this scene Hamlet speaks to his mother about her relationship with Claudius...
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