Incest Theory

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One of the most influential studies about incest is found in Claude Lévi-Strauss’ The Elementary Structures of Kinship, where the anthropological aspect of incest is discussed. Although this paper’s analysis is focused on Lacan’s psychoanalytical theory of desire, Lévi-Strauss theory of the structures of kinship has been used in almost every discussion about incest; therefore it should be explained before moving farther with this paper. Lévi-Strauss establishes the structures of kinship, which he considers as a marriage exchange system regulated by the prohibition of incest (43). That is to say, the prohibition of incest assures that women are exchanged between families. In particular, Lévi-Strauss establishes a theory of the prohibition of …show more content…
Forker discusses the topic in his essay “A Little More than Kin, and Less than Kind: Incest, Intimacy, Narcissism, and Identity in Elizabethan and Stuart Drama”. In particular, Forker relates the existence of incest to the problems of Renaissance society in England. Actually, Forker claims that the use of incest “reflect[s] a deep insecurity in upper-class families of the period about genetic origin and lineage” (19). According to Forker, during that period bloodline and honour were highly relevant for the social and political order (19). That is why, society felt threatened by the existence of incestuous desires. Furthermore, Forker claims that dramatists’ portrayal of incest is in some cases positive, which they achieve by opposing it to the possibility of an even worse scenario (21). This scenario creates ambivalence and transforms the idea of incest to something even desirable (Forker 21). In particular, Forker claims that this happens with Middleton and Ford’s female characters, Isabella and Annabella, who are victims of enforced marriages …show more content…
Bueler makes in her essay “The Structural Uses of Incest in English Renaissance Drama”, where she analyzes incest as a literary motif. According to Bueler, there are two ways in which incest influences a play; first, incest has the task of “complicating and unravelling plots” (116), and, second, it proves “the moral relationship between individual passions and social well-being” (116). Thus Bueler establishes a great number of variations in the portrayal of incest, with two distinctions as the most relevant for the dramatic and structural features of the play: fictional/actual and witting/unwitting incest (118). She claims that the former distinction has influence on the structure of the plot, while the latter has it upon the portrayal of characters (119). These distinctions, she claims, are to be found by “identifying the differences in tone and effect among [the] plays” (119). Furthermore, Bueler claims that the consummation of the incestuous desire is also a relevant influence for plotting, since it symbolizes the evil act which is irreversible (119). In fact, Bueler herself claims “its presence is a signal ... for the ethically significant destruction of the incestuous character”

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