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Title: The Oedipus and Electra Complex in Italian literature of the late 19th century
Authors: Borg Farrugia, Christine
Keywords: Oedipus complex in literature
Electra complex
Italian literature -- 19th century -- History and criticism
Psychoanalysis in literature
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: University of Malta. Junior College
Citation: Borg Farrugia, C. (2020). The Oedipus and Electra Complex in Italian literature of the late 19th century. Symposia Melitensia, 16, 63-70.
Abstract: As Ellen Key outlined in 1900, the 20th century centred on the child and literary theory started analysing texts from a Freudian and Jungian perspective. Italian narrative texts from various authors of the late 19th century assert the Oedipus complex theory where the child’s obsession with the mother deems the father a rival insofar as he exemplifies castration. Authors such as Luigi Capuana, Edmondo De Amicis and Carlo Dossi express this fear of losing the mother in autobiographical works which denote their seduction by the preferred parent. Certain literary characters such as Pinocchio or Rosso Malpelo lack this sense of security the mother provides; hence, they survive by substituting the biological mother with the fairy godmother or, as in Malpelo’s case, by exalting the father figure with whom he identifies. The Electra complex, the girl’s psychosexual competition with her mother for possession of the father, is prominent in Sibilla Aleramo’s confession of her childhood obsession for the father. This psychoanalytical approach developed later in the 20th century because, as Luce Irigaray states, the daughter has always occupied a marginal role in society. Sometimes the mother manifests ambiguous behaviour (Gli spostati and Tortura) given that she no longer feels obliged by nature to love her offspring. As a popular saying goes, “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world” and these literary works epitomise the sheer significance of the parent-figure with respect to the child’s psychological and social well-being.
Appears in Collections:Scholarly Works - JCIta
SymMel, 2019, Volume 16
SymMel, 2020, Volume 16

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