Narrative, Point of View and Freudian Psychiatry in Roald Dahl's "Georgy Porgy"

Article excerpt


What would it feel like to be swallowed by a woman? How does it feel to live in a woman's stomach? George could tell you all about it. This bizarre main character created by Roald Dahl tells us his story in "Georgy Porgy". In this short story George, a 31-year old vicar, looks back on his life. George has a major problem: he is terrified of women. George is petrified of touching them--even with a handshake. Throughout his life, George becomes more and more obsessed with this fear. At the end of the story he claims to be swallowed by a woman and thinks he is living in her stomach. What has really happened?

This short study will argue that George is not living in a woman's stomach, but in a mental hospital. George is mentally confused. Since he is the one telling his story, the borders between reality and Action fade, and the reader has to infer reality from subtle stylistic and linguistic devices employed by Dahl. The following statement will be defended in this study: In the story "Georgy Porgy," Dahl uses stylistic elements to portray the main character's mental illness that can be classified as Freudian, characterised by an experience of a childhood drama, neuroticism, sexual rigidity and female domination. The topic investigated in this paper, by means of stylistic analysis, has not been investigated before. However, it has been hypothesized that Dahl has used Freudian elements in other writings (West, 1990).

A stylistic analysis of point of view--using the frameworks of Fowler and Simpson--was conducted, investigating to what extent Dahl's stylistic elements reflect a psychiatric illness that can be classified as Freudian. The Freudian paradigm of psychiatry emphasises childhood trauma, neuroticism and a fixation in a sexual childhood phase. A microanalysis was conducted showing evidence for each of the Freudian elements, by investigating schema-oriented language, tense, value-laden expressions, temporal, spatial and social deixis.

For clarity, the background and a short summary of the story will be given first. After this, the Freudian framework for psychological disorders will be concisely outlined. Then the main stylistic analysis will be described, followed by a brief conclusion.

Background of the Story

The story "Georgy Porgy" was published in 1960 in the book "Kiss Kiss" written by Roald Dahl. This book contains various short stories of Dahl. Main character is George, a 31-year old vicar. In the story he reflects on his life and on his major problem: his fear of women.

At the age of ten George experiences a dramatic event. In the middle of the night, he and his mother go to see their rabbit giving birth. His mother explains that the rabbit is like her, and that the babies are like George. George is quite intrigued by it all. Suddenly, though, the doe starts to eat her baby. George looks up at his mother, sees her mouth and is petrified that his mother will eat him too. He runs away, screaming and yelling. His mother runs after him, and gets killed in a car accident.

At the age of 31 George is working in a vicarage. At first, the women in his church are distant and pleasantly formal. However, within a few months more and more women start to make sexual advances on George. George gets more and more neurotic. He has tics, and is generally anxious and confused. To And out who is to blame for this situation, the women or him, he conducts a self-made experiment with mice. He separates the females from the males for three weeks and then puts them in the same cage--only separated by a thin highly electric fence. When the females die--trying to get to the males--he sees this as "proof" for the fact that women are sexually obsessed creatures, trying to chase men.

When George is invited to a tennis party, with mostly women, he tries to be very distant. However, without realising it, he drinks alcohol and gets more relaxed. …