Patriarchy and Incest from Shakespeare to Joyce

By Jane M. Ford | Go to book overview

1 Some Literary Variations on the Incest Theme

Yung and easily freudened James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

"Novelists, playwrights, poets and literary critic/essayists have made a greater contribution to the understanding of incest than have scientists and scholars" (4). Masters's conclusion, echoing Freud's, no longer has the validity it once had, but creative artists will always be recognized as the precursors of subsequent explorers of the subject. However, many of these novelists, playwrights, and poets veiled and obscured the theme. Freud, writing about father/daughter incest in Ibsen's Rosmersholm, corroborated Rank's earlier observation when he stated that "everything that refers to it in the play is, so to speak, subterranean and has to be pieced together from hints." 1

Freud contended that readers failed to acknowledge the pervasiveness of the incest theme in literature because of "the distaste which human beings feel for their early incestuous wishes, now overtaken by repression" ( SE, 13:17). As will be seen in the case of Joseph Conrad, sometimes the artists themselves ignored or denied the presence of the theme in a given

-17-

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Patriarchy and Incest from Shakespeare to Joyce
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • For Barbara, Bill, Brian, and Ann v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction - Fatherl/Daughter Incest 1
  • 1 - Some Literary Variations on the Incest Theme 17
  • 2 - The Triangle in William Shakespeare 36
  • 3 - The Triangle in Charles Dickens 54
  • 4 - The Triangle in Henry James 80
  • 5 - The Triangle in Joseph Conrad 100
  • 6 - The Triangle in James Joyce 120
  • 7 - Incest and Death 146
  • Notes 171
  • Bibliography 184
  • Index 199
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