Elements of Freudian Psychology in A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch

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In Iris Murdoch's A Severed Head, the novel's protagonist Martin Lynch-Gibbon sustains a series of revelations which force him to become more aware of the realities of his life. This essay will examine how Murdoch infuses the novel with elements of Freudian psychology to develop Martin's movement from the unconscious to reality. Shifting Relationships

With the novel's opening and rapid progression from one event to the next, the reader quickly comes to realize that its narrator, Martin Lynch-Gibbon, is not completely aware of the realities regarding himself or the people around him. Although he considers his marriage to be "perfectly happy and successful" (p14), he nevertheless has kept a young mistress, Georgie Hands, for
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Indeed, throughout the novel's progression we see more and more indications of the parent-child relationship between the two, with Anderson becoming a kind of Freudian father figure. It is only by moving through a sort of Oedipal complex that Martin can finally come to fully accept his true relationships with his wife and the other people in his life. The Freudian Mother and Father

In Freud's view, the development of a child's sense of self is advanced by movement through the Oedipal complex, the central Freudian childhood crisis. This crisis consists of sexual desire for the mother and a subsequent wish to do harm to the father: because the father has greater strength and power, however, the child fears being castrated for these inappropriate sexual desires and instead comes to identify with the father; development of the self then proceeds. Martin's eventual acceptance of the reality of his relationship with Antonia results from movement through a type of crisis not unlike the Oedipal complex (indeed, the novel, with Martin as its narrator, could be seen to be a variation on Freud's "talking cure", psychoanalysis). Anderson's affair with his wife makes him a father figure for Martin, who already respects

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