Never Lost, Never Found: A Psychoanalytic Study of Representations of the Child in Literature
Brophy, Rachel Anne
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This study is an inquiry into the emotional significance of representations of the child and begins from the assumption that the relationship between our perception of the child and the adult we have become, is filled with anxiety. The initial questions ask how a study of representations of the child offers something beyond our own experiences and observations of real children. This work draws upon psychoanalytic theories of constructions, childhood, and the problem of loss, along with Arendts concept of natality in order to initiate exploration within the complicated world of adult/child relations. Literature, the primary content for this investigation, welcomes us into an imaginary constellation of experiences where the problems of natality, loss and the construct of the child are uniquely explored. The emotional scenes of childhood and loss examined in the novels Annie John, Never Let Me Go and Frankenstein reflect the adults disoriented relationship with the past and the interminable problem of the relations between adult and child. Four central themes emerge from the conversation with the selected literary texts: 1) newness, fragility & the body; 2) dimensions of time; 3) the emotional relationship between the adult and the child; 4) knowing/not-knowing. These themes are used as starting points for analysis, recognizing the child as representative of something but also in need of representation. This project aims to reveal the forgotten emotional life existing between adult and child and assist in reconceptualizing a relationship to childhood that considers a re-imagined notion of natality along with the capacity of phantasy and our imaginative thinking.