The Glass Jar Analysis

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Another one of Gwen Harwood’s poems where psychoanalytical criticism or a modernist reading is appropriate is The Glass Jar. This poem is about the transformation from childhood innocence into adulthood. The poem deals with an individual’s perception of the universe and the romantic notion of a child learning through experience. Gwen Harwood writes about a child’s fears of the darkness and loneliness and how through his experience he transforms. This poem has a major contrast between light and dark, good and evil. In the poem the sun is a symbol for security and plays the role of a saviour. The imagery of the “reeling sun” is used to remind us that darkness is fast approaching. Religious imagery such as “disciples” is used to express the child’s faith and belief in the “pulse of light beside his bed”. The words “bless” and “exorcise” are used to express the boys belief that the light will protect him from the “monsters that whispering would rise”. His believe in the lights “total power” to create a “holy commonplace of field and flower” represents his innocence and trust. Harwood uses a short sentence “he slept” to represent action and a change in the poem. “Pincer”, “claw”, and “trident” are words used to express the imagery of pain and terror the child feels. The metaphor “hope fell headlong from its eagle height,” is used to describe the child’s loss and realization that he is alone. This poem mocks traditional conventions of religion and family through the fact that the mother has her back turned when the boy needs her, creating a sense of betrayal. The rivalry between the boy and his father, and how this influences his image of his mother is significant "...his comforter lay in his rival's...... violence done to her". This alludes to the Oedipus complex, a concept central to the psychoanalytic theory that explains the unconscious desire of a child for a sexual relationship with the parent of the opposite sex and the rivalry with the same sex parent ensues...
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