Thursday, May 14, 2009

"Basic Instinct" and the Patriarchal Society

Women have been considered the subordinate gender for many centuries in society. Men have always had dominance, strength, power, and control contributed to their gender. Female oppression has been embedded and accepted as normal in a patriarchal community; even “the term ‘female’ is derogatory not because it emphasises woman’s animality, but because it imprisons her in her sex” (Beauvoir Ch.1). Being trapped within strictly constructed gender boundaries has been the reality of many women throughout history. In today’s society a woman can enter the work force, live independently, chose not to have children, vote, and can reject the domestic housewife regime. The 1992 film “Basic Instinct” presented to the viewing audience a powerful and independent woman, who could get away with anything she desired. Catherine Tramell, the leading lady, represents the “monster” female image constructed by feminists Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar. This movie is a warning to the dangers of a demise of the patriarchal way of life, by showing the ultimate female villain. In a society where women are on the rise of the social, economic, and power ladder, men want to do anything in their power to keep their dominant control. “Basic Instinct” is an attempt to rile the male community to hold on to their superior status that has been in effect for thousands of years.

The traditional image of an ideal woman is presented in “eighteenth century… conduct books for ladies [which taught]…young girls to submissiveness, modesty, selflessness; reminding all women that they should be angelic” (Gilbert and Gubar 816). Catherine, being an extremely educated woman with two bachelor degrees from UC Berkley, does not adhere to those outdated literary pieces. Receiving degrees in English Literature and Psychology, Catherine is familiar with all the conventional stereotypes and inner workings of individuals. She is a popular published author, but her books deal with murder, blood, and violence. The subject matter of her novels is anything but innocent, angelic, happy, nurturing, full of love, or virtuous. Catherine is intentionally reshaping the definition of what it means to be a woman, and simultaneously taking on the characteristics of the female “monster.” “Men have presumed to create a feminine domain – the kingdom of life, of immanence – only in order to lock up women therein” (Beauvoir “On the Master-Slave Relation”). Gender is socially constructed and since men have the power they create the acceptable behaviors for both sexes. In today’s society females have more choices in developing their personal appropriate behavioral boundaries, and this movie is a warning to the possible detrimental consequences of such freedoms.

The symbols of the female “monster” include “witches, evil eye, menstrual pollution, castrating mothers” (Gilbert and Gubar 814). The villain woman is also incredibly sexually appealing, has strong manipulation skills, and educationally knowledgeable. Catherine uses her body as a sexual weapon to lure men into submissiveness, including the police detective Nick Curran. She is not interested in long term relationships, but openly states her enjoyment in sexual experimentation. Catherine takes her dominant personality to bed and takes control over her sexual partners. She acquires the top position and at times even ties the hands of the men to the bed, rendering them completely powerless. One of the contemporary fears of the average working man is the “"beauty power" that allows women to get certain things based on their physical assets” (Gomez “Women in The Workplace”). The movie shows that the sexual power a woman can have over a man is so dangerous that they become mere puppets in her directed theatrical performance.

“Women are made to feel total failures if they don’t marry and have children” (Anzaldua 1018). Catherine has meaningless relationships with men and women, but is considered successful due to the fact that she has millions in her bank account and has published numerous well selling novels. Financial security is traditionally the male household duty, but Catherine constantly shows how men are good only to be used as characters for a novel. Women equality and further infiltration of the work force, brings up the “question how much further increases in women's participation can be had without more reallocation of household work” (Porter “Stretched to Limit, Women Stall to March to Work”). That implies that men have to help out with chores around the house, which has always been considered feminine and if that happens it completely redefines masculinity. The movie shows that a woman can lead a satisfying and content life without bearing children, which means that gender boundaries are breaking. The reconstruction of acceptable roles would then allow men to participate in feminine activities, including household chores, and the writer of the movie shows how treacherous unconventional gender traits can be.

Images of female “monsters” in literature are “emblems of filthy, materiality, committed only to their own private ends, these women are accidents of nature, deformities meant to repel, but in their very freakishness they possess unhealthy energies, powerful and dangerous arts” (Gilbert and Gubar 820). Catherine uses men as subjects for her novels, uses them for sexual satisfaction, and then murders them in cold blood with an ice pick. She has such power and control over a situation, that she kills the men exactly like she writes in her books and is not intimidated by police investigations. Catherine refuses to see legal protection from a lawyer and independently, aggressively defends her own false innocence. She challenges the dominant male ability to take control of the situation, see the truth, and do their job properly under pressure and sexual distraction. Sexual power is blinding and forces grown intellectual men to allow a murder to roam free. In the world today females know the potential power of sexuality and like “the 'cunny' Caribbean woman whether educated or not uses much anancy tactics to succeed, to compete, to equalise the terrain of gender relations. Sexuality is definitely one of those tactics whether or not we wish to acknowledge it for whatever religious or moral standing” (Grant “Give Women Sexual Power”). This realization overturns the power balance and essentially places the men in the inferior position. “Basic Instinct” opens male eyes to the dangerous power women can possess, and instills the idea of the necessity to control sexual urges in their minds.

Catherine demonstrates her masculine personality traits, by driving recklessly and being able to outmaneuver Nick. Her high speeds, running red lights, illegal lane changes, and utter reckless behavior, reveals her fearlessness and confidence in herself. She breaks down heterosexual boundaries by being sexually involved on numerous occasions with women. “The contention of sex, gender, and heterosexuality are historical products which become conjoined and reified as natural over time” (Butler 905). Catherine does not care about historical tradition, it seems she might be retaliating against years of female oppression, by murdering and manipulating men. Catherine is a menace to society and outside of providing entertaining literature to read and many headaches to the detectives, she offers nothing to her fellow community members. She is selfish, vengeful, and sees human beings as a commodity for her fictional, yet truthful in reality, novel characters. Those qualities make her a “monster” and a figure to stand in opposition to the conventional female persona.

The written word has always gotten respect and the author granted prestige. Books are the foreground of the educational system and for many years women were never allowed to publish. Literature is often connected with truth, intelligence, and sophistication, so naturally for a long time it was a strictly male dominated field. Regarding the realm of writing Gilbert and Gubar state that “becoming an author meant sexed female, then it meant becoming a monster or a freak” (Gilbert and Gubar 823). If women did get the opportunity to publish their work it was usually poetic, lyrical, and virtuous. Catherine, on the other hand, writes about killing people and brings an entirely new light to truth coming out of the written word. She challenges the male authoritative writing world by making a profit, and then by making her sick twisted stories come to life. Women coming into the typically male dominant work forces is an occurrence that is being more frequent in today’s society. “Girls get better grades at school than boys, and in most developed countries more women than men go to university. Women will thus be better equipped for the new jobs of the 21st century, in which brains count a lot more than brawn” (“The Importance of Sex”). Women are showing a lot of determination to gain equal job status with the men, and by focusing so strongly on education they could take over many prestigious positions. “It used to be said that women must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily that is not so difficult” (“The Importance of Sex”). Women making a difference in the economical growth of a company and nation as a whole is jeopardizing the power-hold of men that a patriarchal society demands. “Basic Instinct” proves that if a strong-minded woman is determined to achieve a goal, nothing can stand in her way, including socially admired powerful men.

The traditional image of a woman is one of weakness, gentleness, and morally virtuous. Feminist Judith Butler writes about gender constitution and states “discrete genders are part of what “humanizes” individuals within contemporary culture; indeed, those who fail to do their gender right are regularly punished” (Butler 903). Catherine lives a luxurious lifestyle with a big mansion and a separate beach house, drives a nice sports car, and dresses in nice high fashion clothes. She is not ostracized from society, on the contrary men are intrigued by her and she has female friends. Catherine breaks down the weak stereotype that usually gets associated with the female gender, by killing men in cold blood. She does not use a gun, a bomb, or anything that can be used from a far off distance, which means she has strength and confidence. Catherine murders her victims with an ice pick with her bare hands, without a moment of hesitation or remorse afterwards. Women are often seen as overly emotion and nurturing, since they are in charge of child rearing, but Catherine does not reproduce and shows no weakness of emotion. She is not intimidated by men, she looks them straight in the eye, and plays mind games with them at their weaknesses. Catherine is an example of how physically dangerous women can be, and in the contemporary world today females are showing a more aggressive nature. “Since 1980 the number of women in prison has increased at nearly double the rate of men, [and] the number of women in state and federal prisons has increased eight-fold from 12,300 in 1980 to 107,500 in 2005” (“Factsheet: Women in Prison”). Even though more men sit in prison for violent crimes than women, the numbers can easily shift as more women are unleashing their aggressive nature. Women now are demanding rights, fighting for equality, and not allowing men to dominate their lives as they did in past centuries. “Basic Instinct” presents an example of a woman who has taken her freedoms and turned them into retaliation on the male community. As a patriarchal society dwindles, women have the potential to become a dangerous powerhouse of a force to be reckoned with.

Catherine makes a mockery of the entire police investigative force with not only getting away with multiple murders, but successfully putting the blame on an innocent victim. A woman’s mind is dangerous, even the image of “the angel-woman manipulates her domestic/mystical sphere in order to ensure the well-being of those entrusted to her care reveals that she can manipulate; she can scheme; she can plot- stories as well as strategies” (Gilbert and Gubar 818). If the ideal woman is known to have those qualities, the “monster” character will surely use those abilities for her own good and satisfaction. Catherine uses her dynamic plots to sell books, while more importantly setting up the psychiatrist Dr. Beth Garner. Her manipulative and cold emotionless interior allow her to flawlessly pass the polygraph, which is an incredibly difficult task. Catherine demonstrates that she can think logically and outwit an entire staff of professional men, who are on the payroll to protect the citizens of their community. She illuminates their incapability to fulfill their job requirements with her mental abilities, implying that women can do a better job, since males are so easily fooled. Housewives, secretaries, teachers, and child-care faculty members have been appropriate gender careers for women, because they are deemed feminine, subordinate, or nurturing. In today’s society there are more career opportunities for women, and “approximately 25% of doctors and lawyers are female while many more are on the way, with 43% of all medical students being female and women making up half of the law school student body” (Gomez “Women in the Workplace”). Doctors and lawyers are not only prestigious careers, but also very influential within the larger community. Doctors have their patients lives in their hands and lawyers deal with the legal system and also hold their clients lives in their hands. The fact that more women are becoming doctors and lawyers, means that they hold justice, health, and a mastery of manipulation within their hands. Women are finding more power within the work force, which means that the balance might shift that men become the underrepresented in high influential professions.

Catherine’s ability to always place herself as the party in control of a situation, clearly represents her strong leadership abilities. She has people believing her alibis, publishing her books, and she beats them mentally on an intellectual level. Catherine’s states once to Nick, that she only allows information to slip out that she intends for him to know, which means she is always in control of her emotional state and thoughts. Traditionally “the category of woman is socially constructed in such a way that to be a woman is, by definition, to be in an oppressed situation” (Butler 904). Catherine turns the tables around and makes the men around her feel oppressed, because she keeps them at a distance, plays at their weaknesses, only demands information, and uses her sexuality as a weapon against them. In correlation to contemporary society, women today are proving that they are not afraid of major responsibilities and power positions in the community. This past presidential election a woman candidate was on the ballot to become the Democratic representative for the presidency. A woman has never come this close to the most influential political position of the entire nation, and now the floor has opened for more women to attempt this previously unachievable goal. In society today there are thoughts circulating that “more women in government could also boost economic growth: studies show that women are more likely to spend money on improving health, education, infrastructure and poverty and less likely to waste it on tanks and bombs” (“The Importance of Sex”). Politics has been dominated by men since the notion of government has been invented, so the infiltration of women undermines the presence of a patriarchal society. “Basic Instinct” shows that too much power can corrupt a woman to the extent where it brings moral and physical harm to her male counterparts.

In the final scene of “Basic Instinct” Catherine is once again portrayed having sexual intercourse, but more importantly the last image is the ice pick lying under the bed waiting to murder its next victim, Nick. Catherine does not have an emotional breakthrough in the movie and continues being manipulative, cold, heartless, and dominant until the credits cover the screen. Her actions show that once a woman tastes power, control, and dominance there is no turning back. The movie is a warning to the male community that women are beginning to infiltrate the power structure and break down the traditional patriarchal society. This change can be ruthless, dangerous, and disastrous, because a woman on a mission is a powerful force to be reckoned with.

Works Cited
Anzaldua, Gloria. Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. 2nd ed. Malden: Blackwell, 2004. p.1017-1030
Beauvoir, Simone De. "The Second Sex." 12 May 2009 .
Ch.1 and "On the Master-Slave Relation"
Butler, Judith. Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. 2nd ed. Malden: Blackwell, 2004. p.900-911
"Factsheet: Women in Prison." The Sentencing Project. 12 May 2009 .
Gilbert, Sandra, and Susan Gubar. Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. 2nd ed. Malden: Blackwell, 2004. p.812-825
Gomez, Armando. "Women in The Workplace." 12 May 2009 .
Grant, K. N. "Give Women Sexual Power." 12 May 2009 .
"The Importance of Sex." Economist 12 Apr. 2006. 12 Apr. 2006. 12 May 2009 .
Porter, Eduardo. "Stretched to Limit, Women Stall March to Work." The New York Times [New York] 2 Mar. 2006: 1-2. 2 Mar. 2006. 12 May 2009 .

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cinderella and Feminism

Fairy tales are a way for literature to uphold the patriarchal conventions of society. These “harmless” stories are presented to children at a young age, which then establish the normality of the domination of men in their minds. Social conventions are instituted to children through fairy tale characters that they can relate to in order to embed the “proper” gender behaviors in their brains. “American literature is male. To read the canon of what is currently considered classic American literature is perforce to identify as male” (Fetterley), but fairy tales come before school years, therefore it is necessary to have main female characters. Little girls must learn their place in society before they start their education, because then they will be less likely to question tradition if it has been presented to them so early on. If girls identify with characters like Cinderella, then they will not need female literature in canon, since they already have their gender identification set up. Cinderella is the perfect example of a beautiful, quiet, nurturing, and subordinate woman that little girls relate to.
Cinderella is the image of the ideal angelic female, while the stepmother and stepsisters represent the opposite “monster” images (Gilbert and Gubar 812). Starting with the physical appearance, Cinderella is beautiful and the others are dark and unattractive. Cinderella has a magical connection with the animals, which reinforces the deep connection to nature that a proper woman should have. That quality also reveals her nurturing nature, because she clothes, feeds, and defends the living creatures she has such a close bond to. Those actions mirror what kind of mother, wife, and caretaker she would make in the future. The stepmother is the scheming, outspoken, dominant, and essentially evil character that forces Cinderella into servitude in her own house. The evil stepmother represents “the subversive feminine symbols (witches, evil eye)” (Gilbert and Gubar 814). Cinderella, on the other hand, follows the “conduct books for ladies [that] proliferated, enjoining young girls to submissiveness, modesty selflessness; reminding all women that they should be angelic” (Gilbet and Gubar 816). Regardless of how badly the stepmother treated Cinderella, she went on doing her household duties and taking care of the whole family, which justifies the idea that “a woman of right feeling should devote herself to the good of others” (Gilbert and Gubar 816). Cinderella falls in love with the handsome prince, who will complete her life, and in the end with the help of her animal friends and her goodness she wins the day. Cinderella’s triumph over the wicked stepmother and stepsisters, displays to the audience that her female qualities are the ones to be repeated and grained into the unconscious. The “angel” female defeats the “monster” and in a fairy tale always has a happy ending, which send the wrong sense of reality to the young girl identifying with that innocent, holy character.
“For every glowing portrait of submissive women enshrined in domesticity, there exists an equally important negative image that embodies the sacrilegious fiendishness” (Gilbert and Gubar 819) of the monster. Cinderella is a fairy tale that underlines the patriarchal gender roles, and makes the woman with a dominant personality to be the villain. Cinderella “a sweet heroine inside the house… is opposed to a vicious [monster] outside” (Gilbert and Gubar 819), which is the stepmother. Little girls who identify with Cinderella will wait for their prince charming to fulfill their life and accept subordination and domesticity as their nature role.

Works Cited
Gilbert, Sandra, and Susan Gubar. Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael
Ryan. 2nd ed. Malden: Blackwell, 2004. pg. 812-825 and Ch.3 "On the Politics of
Literature" by Judith Fetterley

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"The Virgin Suicides" and Foucault

Society has rules for appropriate behavior that its citizens must follow or consequences will emerge. From the time children are born they are being molded into becoming a specimen of their environment, and the parents take on the first role of government. The parents are the authority and they impose their values and beliefs on the offspring. In the movie “The Virgin Suicides,” the household rules align with the strict guidelines of the religious institution. The five daughters, in the film, have “anxiety over behaving well” (Foucault, “Class of 1968”) from fear of punishment. As Foucault says, “we become our own prison guards” (“Class of 1968”), which is what the girls have to do in order to keep some form of freedom in their own home. However, after the youngest daughter, age 13, commits suicide and Lux (another daughter) misses curfew, the parents take it upon themselves to completely isolate the girls. The teenage girls are taken out of school, disallowed from outside contact, and on indefinite house-arrest. The parents believe in Foucault’s idea that “power and knowledge directly imply one another” (Foucault 550), which means since they are the parents and are religiously pious, they have the right to ultimate control over their children. They believe that if the children can not willing subscribe to their moral values, it will be imposed on them through strict restrictions and punishment.
The total isolation from society could be compared to the quarantine example that Foucault explained in his piece “Discipline and Punish.” However, in the film instead of the girls suffering from the plague, they have the disease of wanting independence and freedom. The type of discipline the parents took into action could be classified as “the discipline-blockade, the enclosed institution,… turned inwards towards negative functions: arresting evil, breaking communications, suspending time” (Foucault 557). The isolation was meant to bring the girls on the right track towards religion and purity, while simultaneously constructing their identity in the image of the parents. This enclosure could also be paralleled with Bentham’s Panopticon, with the parents being the central tower and the girls being under constant surveillance. The girls, however, acting as the inmates are not secluded from each other, but only the outside world. As Foucault states about the Panopticon system as not being effective “for the immediate salvation of a threatened society” (Foucault 556), neither does the isolation work for the teenage girls. Lux still finds ways to act promiscuous with boys (she just does it on the roof), and the girls ultimately gain their freedom from the firm grasp of their parents. All four remaining sisters commit suicide in order to shape their own destiny and escape the unmerciful power of their creators.
These movie sends a message that every individual should have the right to have personal freedom and the people in power should be more understanding. The individual being its own prison guard benefits a capitalist society, like Foucault says, and this movie shows that if there is no understanding and no give and take relationship, than the society with its citizens will ultimately lead to destruction.

Works Cited
Foucault, Michael. Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. 2nd ed. Malden: Blackwell, 2004. p. 549-566, Ch.1 "The Class of 1968"

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hollywood and Marx

“Swing Shift” was a movie made in 1984, starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, which presented America in a time of war, and women had to take on the factory responsibility for the men. Prior to the war women were not allowed to work in the factories, and when the war ended the capitalist industry businessmen wanted to kick them out of the workforce again. This is a clear example of Marx’s theory that “labor power, therefore, is a commodity, neither more nor less than sugar” (Marx 659). The capitalist factory owners used the “free labor” market to make their profits of the women, because they did not have enough men to keep up production. The women’s “wage labor” have no “exchange value” before the men went of to war, because it was not acceptable in societies underlying rules for gender categories. Marx had a theory that “we are all situated historically and socially, and our social and historical contexts “determine” or shape our lives” (Marx 644). That completely holds true for the women portrayed in this movie, because the war happened at the time they were alive and allowed for the gender roles to be lifted due to necessity. However, their historical time gave them an insight into freedoms that women before them had no opportunity to witness, so with their new found experience the women were able to fight for more rights. The era they lived in and the society they found themselves apart of, shaped their lives, outlooks on social norms, and determined their course of action.
The movie really showed how much power the capitalist has, but at the same time it revealed the interdependent relationship with the wage worker. As Marx put it, “capital presupposes labor; wage labor presupposes capital. They reciprocally condition the existence of each other; they reciprocally bring forth each other” (Marx 664). The capitalist has the authority to fire an employee at any given point in time, which is apparent when the women are let go after the end of the war. The labor however is extremely necessary for the capitalist and without other people working the factories the business would collapse. The worker have a lot more power than they realize, but the necessity to bring income into the household can hold them back from exercising their power. The worker are being manipulated and exploited by the capitalist, and this movie shows that in its bare truth with the women issue of labor. In the Manifesto of the Communist party, Marx wrote, “for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation” (Marx Ch.5). In the movie the capitalist employed the women to work due to patriotism and that their work would not only keep their households alive with income, but that they would be helping the cause of the war. The capitalist, however, just needed people working in the factories in order to keep the products coming and the profits rolling. As long as the work was being done they were happy, but as soon as the men came home the capitalist was ready to drop the women workers, because men were stronger and had a larger “exchange value” for their labor.

Works Cited
Marx, Karl. Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. 2nd ed. Malden: Blackwell, 2004. p. 643-646, 650-672, Ch.6

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Group Presentation

In my psychoanalysis group, we presented information on Freud's and Lucan's theories. I aided the group in developing the Dating game, including: the questions, the profiles for the women, and the reason why it connects to Freudian concepts. We worked together to pose questions to the class, and discuss which topics were important to touch on. Together we viewed the clips that were presented and split up the information to be covered in the presentation. I think we worked well together and made the activities interesting to our fellow classmates (and teacher), while at the same time making the information we read in the textbook come to life. Also as a group we discussed the possible answers our classmates would give for our questions, or questions they might themselves have. That enabled us to be prepared for anything that came our way, and also guided us in understanding the material on a higher level. This presentation was a group effort, and I was there from beginning to end working with my group mates.

Monday, March 2, 2009

"Last Resort" and Freud

Freud was an extremely important man in the psychoanalysis field and his theories could be applied to many various aspects of life. Even a rock song heard frequently on the radio could be analyzed in terms of Freudian concepts and ideas. The song “Last Resort” by Papa Roach is a perfect example of how a song can fit into the boundaries of the Freudian theory of the Oedipus Complex.
The singer of the song is a male and the song is sung in the first person, so it can be assumed that the persona being presented is of the masculine gender. The man is completely distraught about life and is “contemplating suicide” (Papa Roach). The life of the man is pure turmoil and he admits that “It all started when I lost my mother /No love for myself/ And no love for another” (Papa Roach). That statement clearly shows that he never passed the Oedipal stage of his life and was not able to form the healthy “identification with the father” (Freud 439). Freud believed that when a child was in the Oedipal stage, the boy would associate himself with the mother (mirroring), receive comfort from her, and desire her love and affection. The persona in the song could not handle the death of his mother, so all of his ability to cope with life and desires were buried with her. The man does say that “Im losing my sight/ Losing my mind /Wish somebody would tell me Im fine” (Papa Roach). He is inside searching for support, but because he was never able to pass the Oedipal stage, he does not know how to formulate healthy loving relationships outside of his connection with his dead mother. Freud gave an example of “someone who feels great animosity toward a cold and distant mother may convert that feeling into its opposite, a fantasy that all women are themselves hostile and therefore unworthy of love” (Freud 390). In this case the mother does not appear to have been cold, but her death made the man shut out the rest of the world. The persona lost all capability to function in society to the point where he wants to end his own life. This song shows how Freud’s idea of the importance of the mother and son relationship is relevant, and how truly vital it is to be able to move past the Oedipal stage.
The Oedipal stage might have been escaped, but the death of the mother made it stagnant in time. All the desire the man had for the mother, only escalates due to the fact that he could never have her. The mother gets even more idolized and no human being could compare to the emotional attachment the man had with his dead parent. “Nothing’s alright” (Papa Roach) for the man and that is because he does not have the skills to formulate relationships with people around him. This is a sad song and it shows how terrible life can turn out if a child does not develop good, healthy relations with both parents.

Works Cited
Freud, Sigmund. Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. 2nd ed.
Malden: Blackwell, 2004. p.389-396, 431-446

"Papa Roach/ Last Resort." Lyrics Freak. 28 Feb. 2009

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Little Boy and His Mother

A little three year old boy, who was already distant from the father, was incredibly distressed by the birth of his new baby brother. As soon as the baby brother was brought home from the hospital, the three year old boy reached his boiling point. In all seriousness he took his baby brother and placed him on a serving tray and put the tray on the table. He got a fork and ran to get his mother a different part of the house. Bringing the mother to the table, he offered to eat the baby brother to make himself the only child of the family again..

This is a perfect case for Freud’s theory of “tie of affection, which binds the child as a rule to the parent of the opposite sex, succumbs to disappointment… or jealousy over the birth of a new baby” ( Freud 435). The three year old boy had the father figure to deal with, in terms of competing for the full affection of the mother, so a new baby brother would be too overwhelming. Another male in the family to vile for the love of the mother is something a little boy, who has not completed the separation process yet, can’t handle. The boy was not ready to identity with the father yet, because he was still in the phase of wanting to take the fathers place, the “Oedipus Complex”. I do not think that the desire to be with the mother was sexual though at three years old, it just had the aspects of the emotional attachment to the nurturer. A new child in the family means less time with the mother, which means less pleasure for the older sibling. Also the situation of becoming an older sibling, forces one to grow up faster and to reach the stage of more socially acceptable identification with the mother quicker.

Works Cited
Freud, Sigmund. Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan.
2nd ed.Malden: Blackwell, 2004. p.389-396, 431-440