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By Carolyn Dever

Victorian tradition is legendary for its idealization of moms and households, but the preferred novels of this era usually function moms who're useless or another way absent. via an research of the paintings of Dickens, Collins, Eliot, Darwin and Woolf, Carolyn Dever discusses this obvious paradox. She exhibits how the idealized useless mom is key to the Victorians' thought of origins, and later turns into the imperative determine of Freudian psychoanalysis. Dever demonstrates that Victorian literature and psychoanalysis have a lot to coach us approximately one another.

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256) Lucilla's rank opportunism, as well as her impulse to redecorate, are the lessons of novels. 59 Q. D. Leavis makes explicit Lucilla's participation in the historical continuum of strong fictional heroines of the nineteenth century; perhaps not coincidentally, this tradition is populated by young women whose mothers have died. "60 Oliphant's Lucilla indeed shares many affinities with Emma and Dorothea, but most notably, Emma, Miss Marjoribanks, and Middlemarch are all texts that announce the death of the mother in their opening pages; in Middlemarch (1872), the first chapter describes Dorothea and Celia plundering their mother's "casket," her jewel-box, < previous page page_32 next page > < previous page page_33 next page > Page 33 dividing her treasures and anticipating, as Emma does, the imminent arrival of a lover.

One on the disagreeableness of childbirth and the other on the glory of motherhood, reflect Tertullian's observation about the duality of women templum aedificatum super cloacam, a temple built upon a sewer. 43 The mother, Miller argues, represents built-in conflict between an iconographic ideal the Madonna and the insistence of physicality the visceral spectacle of childbirth. Like the paradoxical figure of Queen Victoria at once fat, fecund, and unavoidably physical and regal, all-powerful, and untouchable the combination in the bourgeois mother of bodily excess and cultural ideal remains a representational paradox throughout this period.

Winnicott 1 As the site of each individual's physical and psychological origin, the mother is necessarily central to the analysis of infancy, development, and trauma. Paradoxically, however, the mother is most often represented within the conventions of Freudian psychoanalysis in terms of disappearance. In order for human development to occur in an orderly fashion, the infant's primal cathexis onto the mother must be ruptured, and the mother replaced by alternative physical, psychological, and erotic objects.

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