Living Death – A Study of Insane Personality in >Wonderland< in Light of Fromm’s Theory [虽生犹死 - 以弗洛姆的理论观照《奇境》中人物的不健全人格], Master thesis, English Language and Literature, Henan University, Kaifeng, Henan, China 2011, 58 pp. [application of Fromm's theories to art].

  • 美籍德裔学者艾里希•弗洛姆(Erich Fromm 1900-1980)终身致力于将马克思主义的社会分析与弗洛伊德的心理分析相结合,创造了>人本主义心理分析学<。其主要论点是:人的基本感情植根于人与社会的相互关系。乔伊斯•卡罗尔•欧茨(Joyce Carol Oates,1938- ),是一位关注个人生存与社会环境的冲突,善于刻画当代美国社会的不良现象给人类生存造成的混乱局面和心理问题的美国当代女作家。在代表作《奇境》中,欧茨深入人物内心最隐秘的地方,揭示他们的恐惧、压抑、绝望,探寻了人类的生存困境、人性的异化以及个体的孤独。本文运用艾里希•弗洛姆的社会性格理论剖析《奇境》人物的不健全人格,指出被动性格导致人类失去活力、陷入困境、虽生犹死,而其成因是现代化工业大生产所导致的人类劳动的异化。论文由五部分组成,包括引言,三章正文和结论部分。引言主要介绍了乔伊斯•卡罗•欧茨的创作背景,概述了小说《奇境》的主要内容,综述了国内外对《奇境》的研究情况。最后指出本论文的研究目的在于:运用弗洛姆关于社会性格的理论,剖析小说中三个典型人物的不健全人格,从而揭示小说中人物悲剧的根源。第一章详细阐述了弗洛姆的社会性格理论。弗洛姆的社会性格理论是以弗洛伊德的根本发现为基础进一步发展而来的。他批判了弗洛伊德的>力比多决定性格<的观点,提出人的性格是在社会的文化、经济、政治的影响下逐渐形成的;同时,社会性格作为联系经济基础与上层建筑的中介,具有改变社会的力量。本章首先通过比较弗洛姆与弗洛伊德的性格理论的异同,梳理了弗洛姆社会性格理论的来源与本质特点,同时指出弗洛姆的心理分析法是透过人的行为的表象,分析其背后的动机。接着,本文通过介绍性格的功能及分类,彰显了性格分析的重要性。第二章主要以弗洛姆关于>逃避机制<的理论为依据,集中讨论了主人公杰西的施虐人格与受虐人格的形成原因以及表现特征。弗洛姆认为,人出生后仍与世界保持着一种>原始联系<,它束缚了人的自由却给了人安全感。随着个体的成长,自我意识觉醒与发展导致>原始联系<破裂。人需要通过劳动和爱重建与世界的积极联系,但这是一个非常困难的过程。>原始联系<的突然断裂会使人因缺乏安全感而产生恐慌和焦虑,为了逃避不安全感,人们通常会选择依附权威或控制他者,这便是施虐与受虐性格形成的原因。杰西童年遭受的家庭与社会的变故摧毁了他与世界的联系,在他的成长过程中,他与养父、导师、妻子、女儿、病人的关系表现了他希望通过顺从和控制重获安全感的努力,但这番努力却将他变成了一个施虐受虐狂。第三章以杰西的妻子海伦和他的次女谢莉为代表,分析了《奇境》中女性的被动人格。不同于欧茨以往作品中的女性形象,《奇境》中的女性,面对男权社会,都具有相对清醒的自我意识与反抗精神,并进行了寻求自我、追求自由的实践。但是,由于这些女性并没有跳出传统角色的桎梏,正视自我的需求,积极地建立与世界的联系,所以她们的命运都以悲剧收场。论文最后推出结论:通过借用弗洛姆的社会性格理论分析《奇境》中的人物性格,我们可以有效解释小说中人物悲剧命运的原因。
  • German American Scholar Erich Fromm (Erich Fromm 1900-1980) is dedicated to combine Marxian social analysis with the method of Freud’s psychoanalysis, creating his own >Humanistic Psychoanalysis<. His main argument is that man’s basic emotion is rooted in the mutual relations between people and the society. Joyce Carol Oates is a contemporary American female author who is concerned about the conflict between the individual and his social environment and good at depicting individuals’ dislocation and extreme psychological turmoil which are caused by contemporary America’s philosophical contradiction and its colliding social and economic forces. In her masterpieces >Wonderland<, Oates goes deep into the very recesses of its characters’ brains to explore their fear, suppression and despair, and further investigate human beings ’living predicament, human nature’s alienation and individuals’ isolation. By analyzing characters’ insane personality with Erich Fromm’s theory of social character, the present thesis tries to indicate that predicaments and living death condition of modern people result from their passive personalities which are caused by the alienated labor of modern industrial world. The present thesis includes the introduction, the main body which consists of three parts, and the conclusion.– The introduction of the present thesis, first of all, mainly explicates the background of Joyce Carol Oates’s literary creation, outlines the plot of Wonderland, and views the researches on Wonderland both at home and abroad. Herein evolves the aim of the present thesis – the exploration of the springhead of characters’ tragic life in the Wonderland by investigating their insane personalities in light of Fromm’s social character theory.– Chapter One expounds Fromm’s theory on social character. Although his theory develops from the basic finding of Sigmund Freud, Fromm criticizes his libido determinism, and argues that an individual’s personality is molded by the cultural, economic and political condition in his society. At the same time, as an intermediary between economic base and superstructure, social character can modify the whole structure of the society. This chapter begins with the comparison of Fromm’s and Freud’s character theory and explains Fromm’s psychoanalytical method which focuses on the motivation of human behavior. Furthermore, by discussing character’s functions and classification, the analysis of personality is attached with great significance.– Chapter Two focuses on the formation and expressions of Jesse’s masochistic and sadistic personality with Fromm’s theory on >escape mechanism<. Fromm argues that >primitive ties< fasten an infant to the outside world and give him security. With the growth of the individual, he has to re-build positive relationship with the world to replace severed primitive ties by means of productive work and love. However, this is a tough process. An abrupt rupture of primitive ties will result in a strong sense of fear and anxiety. For avoiding feelings of insecurity, powerful tendencies will arise to escape from individuality into submission or domination, or, as Fromm puts it, masochistic and sadistic strivings. In Jesse’s case, social unrest and family calamity destroy his primitive ties with the world and throw him into an isolated world. His relationship with his foster father, mentors, wife, daughter and patients shows his strivings for regaining security. Unfortunately, however, these strivings turn him into both a sadist and a masochist.– Chapter Three analyzes passive personalities of Jesse’s wife Helene and his younger daughter Shelley, pointing out that it is passivity that prevents women from self-fulfilling. Different from female images in Oates’s earlier works, women in Wonderland, confronting with a male-dominated world, have fairly clear self-awareness and spirit of resistance. Moreover, nearly all of them take actions to achieve self-actualization and pursue freedom. However, their failures of transcending the ready-made roles of traditional women and of establishing active relations with the world prevent them from gaining authentic freedom and happiness.– The last part of the present thesis concludes that analyzing personality with Fromm’s theory provides a viable explanation to the springhead of characters’ tragedies in Wonderland. [Author's translation]

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Author:Xinyu Zhang
Document Type:Dissertations
Year of first Publication:2011
Release Date:2017/11/20
Format:no download and copy possible
Writings about Erich Fromm (Secondary Literature):Dissertations / Dissertationen
Erich Fromm's Library and Erich Fromm Archive:Dissertations / Dissertationen
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