The Analysis of Characters, Characterizations, and Psychological Defense Mechanisms in Guy de Maupassant’s The Diamond Necklace




Psychological Defence Mechanisms


Mathilde Loisel –          Round and dynamic.

–          Has a desire to be envied.

–          Jealous.

–          Never satisfied.

–          Longs for a wealthy life style, which contrasts with her real life.

–          Selfish (beautiful, charming, middle class, spoiled, daydreamed).

–          Aged quickly.

–          Heavy rough.

–          Harsh.

–          Shrill voice.

–          Poor.

–          Snobby.

–       Substitution

–       Regression

–       Sublimation

–       Identification

–       Scapegoating

–       Aggression


Monsieur Loisel –          Optimistic.

–          Happy with his life.

–          Practical.

–          Manipulated by his wife.

–          Kind.

–          Generous.

–          Loyal hard-working.

–          Clerk for Ministry of Public Instruction.

–          Wants to please wife.

–          Middle class.

–       Repression

–       Rationalisation

–       Intellectualisation


Jeanne Forestier –          Kind.

–          Generous.

–          Wealthy.

–       Substitution

–       Repression


The Diamond Necklace

By Guy de Maupassant

The girl was one of those pretty and charming young creatures who sometimes are born, as if by a slip of fate, into a family of clerks. She had no dowry, no expectations, no way of being known, understood, loved, married by any rich and distinguished man; so she let herself be married to a little clerk of the Ministry of Public Instruction.

She dressed plainly because she could not dress well, but she was unhappy as if she had really fallen from a higher station; since with women there is neither caste nor rank, for beauty, grace and charm take the place of family and birth. Natural ingenuity, instinct for what is elegant, a supple mind are their sole hierarchy, and often make of women of the people the equals of the very greatest ladies.

Mathilde suffered ceaselessly, feeling herself born to enjoy all delicacies and all luxuries. She was distressed at the poverty of her dwelling, at the bareness of the walls, at the shabby chairs, the ugliness of the curtains. All those things, of which another woman of her rank would never even have been conscious, tortured her and made her angry. The sight of the little Breton peasant who did her humble housework aroused in her despairing regrets and bewildering dreams. She thought of silent antechambers hung with Oriental tapestry, illumined by tall bronze candelabra, and of two great footmen in knee breeches who sleep in the big armchairs, made drowsy by the oppressive heat of the stove. She thought of long reception halls hung with ancient silk, of the dainty cabinets containing priceless curiosities and of the little coquettish perfumed reception rooms made for chatting at five o’clock with intimate friends, with men famous and sought after, whom all women envy and whose attention they all desire.

When she sat down to dinner, before the round table covered with a tablecloth in use three days, opposite her husband, who uncovered the soup tureen and declared with a delighted air, “Ah, the good soup! I don’t know anything better than that,” she thought of dainty dinners, of shining silverware, of tapestry that peopled the walls with ancient personages and with strange birds flying in the midst of a fairy forest; and she thought of delicious dishes served on marvellous plates and of the whispered gallantries to which you listen with a sphinxlike smile while you are eating the pink meat of a trout or the wings of a quail.

She had no gowns, no jewels, nothing. And she loved nothing but that. She felt made for that. She would have liked so much to please, to be envied, to be charming, to be sought after.

She had a friend, a former schoolmate at the convent, who was rich, and whom she did not like to go to see any more because she felt so sad when she came home.

But one evening her husband reached home with a triumphant air and holding a large envelope in his hand.

“There,” said he, “there is something for you.”

She tore the paper quickly and drew out a printed card which bore these words:

The Minister of Public Instruction and Madame Georges Ramponneau request the honor of M. and Madame Loisel’s company at the palace of the Ministry on Monday evening, January 18th.

Instead of being delighted, as her husband had hoped, she threw the invitation on the table crossly, muttering:

“What do you wish me to do with that?”

“Why, my dear, I thought you would be glad. You never go out, and this is such a fine opportunity. I had great trouble to get it. Every one wants to go; it is very select, and they are not giving many invitations to clerks. The whole official world will be there.”

She looked at him with an irritated glance and said impatiently:

“And what do you wish me to put on my back?”

He had not thought of that. He stammered:

“Why, the gown you go to the theatre in. It looks very well to me.”

He stopped, distracted, seeing that his wife was weeping. Two great tears ran slowly from the corners of her eyes toward the corners of her mouth.

“What’s the matter? What’s the matter?” he answered.

By a violent effort she conquered her grief and replied in a calm voice, while she wiped her wet cheeks:

“Nothing. Only I have no gown, and, therefore, I can’t go to this ball. Give your card to some colleague whose wife is better equipped than I am.”

He was in despair. He resumed:

“Come, let us see, Mathilde. How much would it cost, a suitable gown, which you could use on other occasions–something very simple?”

She reflected several seconds, making her calculations and wondering also what sum she could ask without drawing on herself an immediate refusal and a frightened exclamation from the economical clerk.

Finally she replied hesitating:

“I don’t know exactly, but I think I could manage it with four hundred francs.”

He grew a little pale, because he was laying aside just that amount to buy a gun and treat himself to a little shooting next summer on the plain of Nanterre, with several friends who went to shoot larks there of a Sunday.

But he said:

“Very well. I will give you four hundred francs. And try to have a pretty gown.”

The day of the ball drew near and Madame Loisel seemed sad, uneasy, anxious. Her frock was ready, however. Her husband said to her one evening:

“What is the matter? Come, you have seemed very queer these last three days.”

And she answered:

“It annoys me not to have a single piece of jewelry, not a single ornament, nothing to put on. I shall look poverty-stricken. I would almost rather not go at all.”

“You might wear natural flowers,” said her husband. “They’re very stylish at this time of year. For ten francs you can get two or three magnificent roses.”

She was not convinced.

“No; there’s nothing more humiliating than to look poor among other women who are rich.”

“How stupid you are!” her husband cried. “Go look up your friend, Madame Forestier, and ask her to lend you some jewels. You’re intimate enough with her to do that.”

She uttered a cry of joy:

“True! I never thought of it.”

The next day she went to her friend and told her of her distress.

Madame Forestier went to a wardrobe with a mirror, took out a large jewel box, brought it back, opened it and said to Madame Loisel:

“Choose, my dear.”

She saw first some bracelets, then a pearl necklace, then a Venetian gold cross set with precious stones, of admirable workmanship. She tried on the ornaments before the mirror, hesitated and could not make up her mind to part with them, to give them back. She kept asking:

“Haven’t you any more?”

“Why, yes. Look further; I don’t know what you like.”

Suddenly she discovered, in a black satin box, a superb diamond necklace, and her heart throbbed with an immoderate desire. Her hands trembled as she took it. She fastened it round her throat, outside her high-necked waist, and was lost in ecstasy at her reflection in the mirror.

Then she asked, hesitating, filled with anxious doubt:

“Will you lend me this, only this?”

“Why, yes, certainly.”

She threw her arms round her friend’s neck, kissed her passionately, then fled with her treasure.

The night of the ball arrived. Madame Loisel was a great success. She was prettier than any other woman present, elegant, graceful, smiling and wild with joy. All the men looked at her, asked her name, sought to be introduced. All the attaches of the Cabinet wished to waltz with her. She was remarked by the minister himself.

She danced with rapture, with passion, intoxicated by pleasure, forgetting all in the triumph of her beauty, in the glory of her success, in a sort of cloud of happiness comprised of all this homage, admiration, these awakened desires and of that sense of triumph which is so sweet to woman’s heart.

She left the ball about four o’clock in the morning. Her husband had been sleeping since midnight in a little deserted anteroom with three other gentlemen whose wives were enjoying the ball.

He threw over her shoulders the wraps he had brought, the modest wraps of common life, the poverty of which contrasted with the elegance of the ball dress. She felt this and wished to escape so as not to be remarked by the other women, who were enveloping themselves in costly furs.

Loisel held her back, saying: “Wait a bit. You will catch cold outside. I will call a cab.”

But she did not listen to him and rapidly descended the stairs. When they reached the street they could not find a carriage and began to look for one, shouting after the cabmen passing at a distance.

They went toward the Seine in despair, shivering with cold. At last they found on the quay one of those ancient night cabs which, as though they were ashamed to show their shabbiness during the day, are never seen round Paris until after dark.

It took them to their dwelling in the Rue des Martyrs, and sadly they mounted the stairs to their flat. All was ended for her. As to him, he reflected that he must be at the ministry at ten o’clock that morning.

She removed her wraps before the glass so as to see herself once more in all her glory. But suddenly she uttered a cry. She no longer had the necklace around her neck!

“What is the matter with you?” demanded her husband, already half undressed.

She turned distractedly toward him.

“I have–I have–I’ve lost Madame Forestier’s necklace,” she cried.

He stood up, bewildered.

“What!–how? Impossible!”

They looked among the folds of her skirt, of her cloak, in her pockets, everywhere, but did not find it.

“You’re sure you had it on when you left the ball?” he asked.

“Yes, I felt it in the vestibule of the minister’s house.”

“But if you had lost it in the street we should have heard it fall. It must be in the cab.”

“Yes, probably. Did you take his number?”

“No. And you–didn’t you notice it?”


They looked, thunderstruck, at each other. At last Loisel put on his clothes.

“I shall go back on foot,” said he, “over the whole route, to see whether I can find it.”

He went out. She sat waiting on a chair in her ball dress, without strength to go to bed, overwhelmed, without any fire, without a thought.

Her husband returned about seven o’clock. He had found nothing.

He went to police headquarters, to the newspaper offices to offer a reward; he went to the cab companies–everywhere, in fact, whither he was urged by the least spark of hope.

She waited all day, in the same condition of mad fear before this terrible calamity.

Loisel returned at night with a hollow, pale face. He had discovered nothing.

“You must write to your friend,” said he, “that you have broken the clasp of her necklace and that you are having it mended. That will give us time to turn round.”

She wrote at his dictation.

At the end of a week they had lost all hope. Loisel, who had aged five years, declared:

“We must consider how to replace that ornament.”

The next day they took the box that had contained it and went to the jeweler whose name was found within. He consulted his books.

“It was not I, madame, who sold that necklace; I must simply have furnished the case.”

Then they went from jeweler to jeweler, searching for a necklace like the other, trying to recall it, both sick with chagrin and grief.

They found, in a shop at the Palais Royal, a string of diamonds that seemed to them exactly like the one they had lost. It was worth forty thousand francs. They could have it for thirty-six.

So they begged the jeweler not to sell it for three days yet. And they made a bargain that he should buy it back for thirty-four thousand francs, in case they should find the lost necklace before the end of February.

Loisel possessed eighteen thousand francs which his father had left him. He would borrow the rest.

He did borrow, asking a thousand francs of one, five hundred of another, five louis here, three louis there. He gave notes, took up ruinous obligations, dealt with usurers and all the race of lenders. He compromised all the rest of his life, risked signing a note without even knowing whether he could meet it; and, frightened by the trouble yet to come, by the black misery that was about to fall upon him, by the prospect of all the physical privations and moral tortures that he was to suffer, he went to get the new necklace, laying upon the jeweler’s counter thirty-six thousand francs.

When Madame Loisel took back the necklace Madame Forestier said to her with a chilly manner:

“You should have returned it sooner; I might have needed it.”

She did not open the case, as her friend had so much feared. If she had detected the substitution, what would she have thought, what would she have said? Would she not have taken Madame Loisel for a thief?

Thereafter Madame Loisel knew the horrible existence of the needy. She bore her part, however, with sudden heroism. That dreadful debt must be paid. She would pay it. They dismissed their servant; they changed their lodgings; they rented a garret under the roof.

She came to know what heavy housework meant and the odious cares of the kitchen. She washed the dishes, using her dainty fingers and rosy nails on greasy pots and pans. She washed the soiled linen, the shirts and the dishcloths, which she dried upon a line; she carried the slops down to the street every morning and carried up the water, stopping for breath at every landing. And dressed like a woman of the people, she went to the fruiterer, the grocer, the butcher, a basket on her arm, bargaining, meeting with impertinence, defending her miserable money, sou by sou.

Every month they had to meet some notes, renew others, obtain more time.

Her husband worked evenings, making up a tradesman’s accounts, and late at night he often copied manuscript for five sous a page.

This life lasted ten years.

At the end of ten years they had paid everything, everything, with the rates of usury and the accumulations of the compound interest.

Madame Loisel looked old now. She had become the woman of impoverished households–strong and hard and rough. With frowsy hair, skirts askew and red hands, she talked loud while washing the floor with great swishes of water. But sometimes, when her husband was at the office, she sat down near the window and she thought of that gay evening of long ago, of that ball where she had been so beautiful and so admired.

What would have happened if she had not lost that necklace? Who knows? Who knows? How strange and changeful is life! How small a thing is needed to make or ruin us!

But one Sunday, having gone to take a walk in the Champs Elysees to refresh herself after the labors of the week, she suddenly perceived a woman who was leading a child. It was Madame Forestier, still young, still beautiful, still charming.

Madame Loisel felt moved. Should she speak to her? Yes, certainly. And now that she had paid, she would tell her all about it. Why not?

She went up.

“Good-day, Jeanne.”

The other, astonished to be familiarly addressed by this plain good-wife, did not recognize her at all and stammered:

“But–madame!–I do not know—- You must have mistaken.”

“No. I am Mathilde Loisel.”

Her friend uttered a cry.

“Oh, my poor Mathilde! How you are changed!”

“Yes, I have had a pretty hard life, since I last saw you, and great poverty–and that because of you!”

“Of me! How so?”

“Do you remember that diamond necklace you lent me to wear at the ministerial ball?”

“Yes. Well?”

“Well, I lost it.”

“What do you mean? You brought it back.”

“I brought you back another exactly like it. And it has taken us ten years to pay for it. You can understand that it was not easy for us, for us who had nothing. At last it is ended, and I am very glad.”

Madame Forestier had stopped.

“You say that you bought a necklace of diamonds to replace mine?”

“Yes. You never noticed it, then! They were very similar.”

And she smiled with a joy that was at once proud and ingenuous.

Madame Forestier, deeply moved, took her hands.

“Oh, my poor Mathilde! Why, my necklace was paste! It was worth at most only five hundred francs!”



Electronic Source: (Taken on Monday, May 27, 2013 at. 19.01.)

Waduk Sermo, Sisi Lain Kulon Progo

24 Mei 2013

ALIF ALIF ALIF! Yap! Alhamdulillah It’s Friday! 🙂 So, what?

Mumpung kuliah di kota yang terkenal dengan sebutan Kota Pelajar. Mumpung masih semester 6. Mumpung masih muda. Daaaaaaaaannn, mumpung-mumpung lainnya. Aji mumpung! Waktunya jalan-jalaaaaaaaaannn!

Belajar di sebuah kota yang istimewa membuatku selalu ingin melakukan hal-hal yang istimewa pula. Kegemaranku traveling dan mencoba hal-hal baru pun seakan bermanfaat. Gunungkidul sudah cukup sering, Bantul sesekali, Sleman apalagi! Tanah kelahiranku itu! Jadi, kali ini, aku dan teman-temanku beranjak ke sebuah kabupaten di Yogyakarta yang terkenal dengan sebutan West Prog. Apalagi? Tentu saja Kulon Progo! 😀

Eits, bukannya aku ada kelas Micro Teaching setiap hari Jum’at pukul 15.15?

Tenaaaaaaaaannnggg, Bapak Muhammad Arief Nugroho, S.Pd., selaku dosenku mengatakan beliau akan absen selama 2 minggu karena beliau mendapat tugas mengikuti penataran di Semarang (kalau tidak salah). Jadilah aku memutuskan untuk jalan-jalan daripada cengok di rumah karena galau gagal pulang ke Jepara. Hiks! 😦

Pagi ini, sekitar pukul 09.00 aku dan kelima temanku berangkat ke Kulon Progo. Who are they? Ambar, Chandra, Hany, Lisa, dan Neva. Sekali lagi, jangan tanya padaku tentang rute yang harus dilewati untuk bisa sampai ke Waduk Sermo, the one and only place to spend the day. Jalan ke Kulon Progo-nya saja aku sudah lupa, apalagi belokan-belokan yang harus dilalui untuk sampai ke Waduk Sermo. Pokoknya, aku tahunya kami berhenti di depan Alfamart untuk menunggu satu teman kami yang rumahnya di Kulon Progo, Riza. 😀 Tahu-tahu, kami sudah di sini. 😀


The water smells bad.

Aku tidak tahu foto di atas itu bagian mananya Waduk Sermo. Yang pasti, kami berada di sini sebelum para lelaki menunaikan sholat Jum’at. Ketika hendak sholat Jum’at, kami naik ke atas untuk mencari masjid dan tidak kembali ke sini lagi. Entahlah. Aku sendiri bingung. Keterangan lebih lanjut hubungi Riza. 🙂

Sayang sekali, sebenarnya air yang mengalir seperti yang tergambar di foto di atas sebenarnya agak bau. Tetapi kami nekat untuk bermain air di sana, kan traveler! Masa takut? 😛 Toh, kedua kakiku tidak gatal meski aku berada di sana lumayan lama.

Dan, kami pun sampai di Waduk Sermo! 😀 It’s time for fishing (for others, not for me!)

Fishing time.

Kata Riza, Waduk Sermo ini dibangun pada masa pemerintahan Bapak Soeharto. Sesuai namanya, waduk ini dibangun di dusun Sermo.

Berjam-jam kami menunggu. Akhirnya…


Riza mendapat “ikan”.

Riza mendapat “ikan” pertamanya: plastik hitam. 😀 Kami menunggu lagi dan… voila!


Riza mendapat ikan yang sesungguhnya.

Akhirnya Riza mendapat ikan yang cukup besar. Kami tidak tahu ikan apa yang ia dapatkan. Si Ikan Buruk Rupa, menurutku. Karena ikan itu jelek. 😀

Neva juga mendapat ikan.

Neva juga mendapat ikan.

Neva juga tidak mau kalah. Dia mendapat ikan Red Devil (katanya). Red Devil yang berwarna oranye, seperti almamater kampus kami.

Hany juga mendapatkan Red Devil.

Hany juga mendapatkan Red Devil.

Hany tampak bahagia sekali bisa mendapatkan Red Devil. Mungkin ia terlalu senang karena ikan yang tersangkut di mata kail pancingnya berwarna oranye, warna kesukaannya.

Pukul 16.00. Aku segera menagih janji Riza untuk mengakhiri kegiatan memancing hari ini dan menaiki perahu untuk mengelilingi Waduk Sermo. Riza belum bergeming. Setengah jam kemudian, barulah kami bersiap-siap untuk naik perahu.


Pemandangan Waduk Sermo.

Kami pun naik perahu, cukup membayar Rp 5.000,- saja.

Aku, saat menaiki perahu.

Aku, saat menaiki perahu.

Perjalanan kami berakhir di Alun-Alun Wates, tempat kami menyantap makan malam dengan lahap. Maklum, meski di siang hari aku telah menyantap bakmi goreng dengan porsi yang cukup besar, kegiatan kami hari ini cukup melelahkan karena jarak yang lumayan jauh.

Waduk Sermo, sisi lain Kulon Progo. Aku teringat saat aku masih duduk di awal semester. Ketika dosen kami bertanya asal kami dan beberapa teman sekelasku menjawab bahwa mereka berasal dari Kulon Progo, tawa pun membuncah di ruangan kelas. Awalnya aku bingung. Semakin lama aku semakin paham, Kulon Progo dianggap pelosok. Ah, pelosok-pelosok begini Kulon Progo memiliki keindahan alam yang luar biasa. Dan, menurutku, Waduk Sermo tidak kalah bahkan lebih bagus dari Tanjung Bedugul di Bali.

So, what’s my next destination? Just wait and see! 😀

Muat Ulang(?)

20 Mei 2013

Lebih dari 2 minggu lamanya aku tidak menulis. Bukannya malas atau sibuk, tetapi blog-ku kemarin agak sedikit bermasalah. Pasalnya, setiap kali aku ingin menulis langsung di blog, si kursor tidak bisa digerakkan atau diletakkan di tempat dimana aku akan menulis. Awalnya, kupikir WordPress sedang error. Tapi semakin sering kucoba dan hasilnya tetap nihil, aku semakin ragu dengan dugaanku tersebut. Jengkel, aku pun tidak membuka blog-ku. Dan, pagi ini, seperti biasa aku membawa laptop ke kampus. Ada mata kuliah Instructional Technology. Setelah UTS memang tidak ada kewajiban untuk membawa laptop, tetapi aku tetap membawanya. Siang ini aku akan mengerjakan tugas kelompok mata kuliah Sertifikasi IV.

Dan, keajaiban itu pun datang. Aku iseng membuka blog dan akan menulis–sebetulnya belum tahu akan menulis apa. Ketika membuka blog, daaaaaaaaannn… tampilan blog masih sama dengan ke-error-annya. Aku menghela napas. Sampai kapan blog-ku begini? Aku pun bertanya kepada Rismawan yang duduk di belakangku.

“Ini gimana? Kok nggak mau?” tanyaku.

“Coba dimuat ulang,” jawabnya.

Hah? Muat ulang?” Otakku berputar.

Reload, maksudnya?” tanyaku lagi.


Aku pun meng-klik icon reload dan Alhamdulillah aku bisa menulis lagi. Yeay! Merci beaucoup, Rismawan! 🙂

MUAT ULANG. Dua kata ini kini berputar-putar di kepalaku. Aku menyadari bahwa aku semakin jauh dari tatanan bahasa Indonesia yang baik dan benar. Aku lebih mengerti reload daripada muat ulang. Ya, aku mahasiswa Pendidikan Bahasa Inggris. Keseharianku dihadapkan dengan bahasa Inggris. Terlebih aku sedang belajar bahasa Prancis (lagi) sekarang. Pernah suatu ketika laptop-ku di-install ulang dan aplikasi Mozilla Firefox yang ada berubah menggunakan bahasa Indonesia. Aku kaget bukan kepalang! Aku tidak memahaminya!  But, no excuse, please! Mempelajari dua bahasa asing bukan berarti tidak mau mempelajari bahasa ibuku, bahasa Indonesia. Mempelajari dua bahasa internasional bukan berarti membuatku lupa terhadap tatanan bahasa Indonesia yang baik dan benar. Tidak! TIDAK BOLEH! Yuk, belajar bahasa Indonesia lagi! 😀

A Psychological Approach

Psychological Criticism: This approach reflects the effect that modern psychology has had upon both literature and literary criticism. Fundamental figures in psychological criticism include Sigmund Freud, whose “psychoanalytic theories changed our notions of human behavior by exploring new or controversial areas like wish-fulfillment, sexuality, the unconscious, and repression” as well as expanding our understanding of how “language and symbols operate by demonstrating their ability to reflect unconscious fears or desires”; and Carl Jung, whose theories about the unconscious are also a key foundation of Mythological Criticism. Psychological criticism has a number of approaches, but in general, it usually employs one (or more) of three approaches:

  1. An investigation of “the creative process of the artist: what is the nature of literary genius and how does it relate to normal mental functions?”
  2. The psychological study of a particular artist, usually noting how an author’s biographical circumstances affect or influence their motivations and/or behavior.
  3. The analysis of fictional characters using the language and methods of psychology.



The aim of psychological study folds in three natures. Foremost, the objective of understanding behavior, that is by defining factors that combine the development and expression of behavior. Secondly, the psychologist striving to develop procedure for the accurate prediction of behavior. Thirdly, psychology aims at developing techniques that will permit the control of behavior that is, way of “ shaping”  or course of psychological development through manipulating those basic factors to the growth and the expression of behavior.

The psychological approach leads most directly to a substantial amplification of the meaning of a literary work. When we discuss psychology and its place in a literary work, we are primarily studying the author’s imagination. As all literary works are based on some kind of experience, and as all authors are human, we are necessarily caught up in the wide spectrum of emotional problems (caused by experience). Not all recourse of psychology in the analysis of literary work is undertaken to arrive at the understanding of the literary work, to a certain extent, we must be willing to use psychology to discuss probability.



The psychological approach is a unique form of criticism in that it draws upon psychological theories in its interpretation of a text. Linking the psychological and literary worlds bring a kind of scientific aspect into literary criticism. The three branches of psychological criticism that we have discussed in class are psychoanalytic criticism, trauma and cognitive criticism.

The first approach that we have discussed was psychoanalytic criticism. According to our Dictionary of Critical Theory, psychoanalysis is, “1) a discipline founded on a procedure for the investigation of mental processes that are otherwise inaccessible because they are unconscious; 2) a therapeutic method for the treatment of neurotic disorders; and 3) a body of psychological data evolving into a new scientific discipline.” Freud believes that society sublimates, or channels its unconscious through the creative process. This is where literature comes into play. When criticizing Emily Dickinson’s poetry a psychoanalytic approach can be utilized. Take for example Dickinson’s poem There’s a Certain Slant of Light:

There’s a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.

Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings are.

None may teach it anything,
‘Til the seal, despair,-
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.

When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, ‘t is like the distance
On the look of death.

The psychoanalytic critic would look of the unconscious desires sublimated by Dickinson in her poem. In the psychoanalyst’s mind everyone’s actions are governed by sexual/pleasure seeking motives. Dickinson would have these desires and since they cannot be expressed in society, she must sublimate them in her creative outlet, poetry. For example, with Freud’s theories in mind, we might draw the conclusion that Dickinson got a sexual pleasure from pain.

The second approach of psychological criticism discussed in class is trauma. According to Caruth’s article Trauma and Experience: Introduction”, “…in trauma the greatest confrontation with reality may also occur as an absolute numbing to it, that immediacy, paradoxically enough, may take the form of belatedness.” The affects of trauma on an author can manifest itself in their writing. Say for instance we learned that Emily Dickinson’s mother had killed herself in front of her, this traumatic experience would be influential on her writing and we could interpret her poems with this in mind. (Trauma does not stand so much on its own as it is linked to psychoanalysis. The unconscious desires, perhaps influenced by trauma, of an author are the true meanings underlying all of their work.)

The third approach of psychological criticism discussed in class is the cognitive approach. Whereas the psychoanalytic approach focused on the author and why they wrote what they wrote, the cognitive approach focuses on the reader and how their mind works while reading literature. This approach explains why humans associate certain mindsets with situations. The process is scientific in nature and draws evidence such as evolutionary findings to support its claim. The cognitive critic would read Dickinson’s poem, There’s a Certain Slant of Light, and focus on what mindsets the reader associates with each line and why they do so. Through an understanding of a cognitive approach on literary works such as Dickinson’s poetry the reader can reach a better understanding of the poem’s intellectual complexity and the logic behind how easily they can follow what is going on in the poems.

Resources: Dickinson’s poem:…

Dictionary of Literary Theory by David Macey

Trauma and Experience: Introduction by Cathy Caruth



Life and Career:

When he was young, Sigmund Freud’s family moved from Frieberg, Moravia to Vienna where he would spend most of his life. His parents taught him at home before entering him in Spurling Gymnasium, where he was first in his class and graduated Summa cum Laude.

After studying medicine at the University of Vienna, Freud worked and gained respect as a physician. Through his work with respected French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, Freud became fascinated with the emotional disorder known as hysteria. Later, Freud and his friend and mentor Dr. Josef Breuer introduced him to the case study of a patient known as Anna O., who was really a woman named Bertha Pappenheim. Her symptoms included a nervous cough, tactile anesthesia and paralysis. Over the course of her treatment, the woman recalled several traumatic experiences, which Freud and Breuer believed contributed to her illness.

The two physicians concluded that there was no organic cause for Anna O’s difficulties, but that having her talk about her experiences had a calming effect on the symptoms. Freud and Breuer published the work Studies in Hysteria in 1895. It was Bertha Pappenheim herself who referred to the treatment as “the talking cure.”

Later works include The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) and Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905). These works became world famous, but Freud’s theory of psychosexual stages has long been a subject of criticism and debate. While his theories are often viewed with skepticism, Freud’s work continues to influence psychology and many other disciplines to this day.



Freud also influenced many other prominent psychologists, including his daughter Anna Freud, Melanie Klein, Karen Horney, Alfred Alder, Erik Erikson, and Carl Jung.


Contributions to Psychology:

Regardless of the perception of Sigmund Freud’s theories, there is no question that he had an enormous impact on the field of psychology. His work supported the belief that not all mental illnesses have physiological causes and he also offered evidence that cultural differences have an impact on psychology and behavior. His work and writings contributed to our understanding of personality, clinical psychology, human development and abnormal psychology.


Selected Publications by Sigmund Freud:

  • (1895) Studies in Hysteria
  • (1900) The Interpretation of Dreams
  • (1901) The Psychopathology of Everyday Life
  • (1905) Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality
  • (1905) Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria
  • (1923) The Ego and the Id
  • (1930) Civilization and its Discontents
  • (1939) Moses and Monotheism
  • Breger, Louis (2000). Freud: Darkness in the Midst of Vision–An Analytical Biography
  • Ferris, Paul (1999). Dr. Freud: A Life
  • Gay, Peter (1998). Freud : A Life for Our Time
  • Roazen, Paul (1992). Freud and His Followers


Biographies of Sigmund Freud:

During the twentieth century there was a shift away from the “who done it “genre to the “why did he do it”. Major writers have included Hermann Hess., Franz Kafka, James Joyce and Virginia Woolf.

In literary criticism some critics have abandoned the formalistic/aesthetic approach because of their limitations and inadequacies in coming to terms with the major concerns of modern literature. Rather than being “Art for Arts sake”, modern literature tends to be more exploratory and didactic. The emphasis is more on character and motivation than on form and structure.

The psychological approach to literary criticism is very controversial and is easily  abused.

Some critics argue that it was already used by Aristotle in his Poetics in the 4th century B.C.,  when he defined tragedy as combining the emotions of pity and terror to produce “catharsis”. These critics argue that this is merely a sub—conscious emotional response to literature.



  1. Core theory — the unconscious aspects of the human psyche.

Most of our actions (mental processes) are motivated by psychic forces over which we have little control.

Mind is like an iceberg — its greatest weight and density lies below the surface.

Two kinds of unconsciousness:

  1. pre—conscious — latent not directly aware of something, however with effort. It can be retrieved.
  2. unconcious — something very difficult to revivte mocceesfully blocked or repressed. Comes out in perverse ways.

e.g. Novel/Movie — “Marnie”

2.   Second theory (now rejected by most psychologists including Carl Jung, his disciple).

“All human behaviour is ultimately motivated  by sexuality.”

3.   Freud’s Three Psychic Zones

a.   The  Id

— reservoir of libido

— primary source of all psychic energy

— functions to fulfil the primordial life principle

— our basic drives (S)

— pleasure principle

— no rational order/organisation/will

— impulse to obtain gratification of instinctual needs

— no regard for social conventions — asocial

— no values — good/evil amorphous/amoral

— source of all aggression desires

— lawless, self—destructive

— pre—Freudians called it the “devil” in man

b.     Ego

— regulating agency to curb the Id

— protects the individual and society

— rational, reasoning, logical

— partially conscious

— aware of reality

c.      Super Ego

— largely unconscious

— moral censoring agent

— conscience, self—image, pride

— moral restrictions or repression of Id

— blocks off or represses those drives which society regards as unacceptable

— operates on rewards and punishments

— an overactive Super Ego creates unconscious guilt (complex).

Healthy person has a well balanced Pyche, while an imbalance of any one force causes mental stress — neurosis — today of called a syndrome or a disorder.

Id                     pleasure principle  animals

Ego                  reality mankind

Super Ego      morality “angels”


Applications of Frued’s Theories

1.   Symbolism — most images interpreted in terms of sexuality.

a.   concave images (ponds, flowers, cups, vases, caves, hollows, tunnels)

— female or womb symbols

b.   long  (erect) images (towers, snakes, knives, swords, trees, poles, sky scrapers, missiles)

— male or phallic symbols

c.   activities (dancing riding, flying) symbols of sexual pleasure.

— Of ten pushed too far — Little Red Riding Hood

2.   Child Psychology

Infant and childhood are formative years a period of intense sexual development and awareness.

First five years children pass through several phases in erotic development.

1)     Oral

2)     Anal

3)     Genital

Frustration in the gratification of any of these: eating, elimination, or reproduction may result in an adult personality that is warped.

If a child’s development is arrested in any one of these phases, he may develop a “fixation”.


1)     Oral — premature weaning may result in cigarette smoking.

2)     Anal — overly strict toilet training — fastidious, fussy.

3)     Genital — close attachment to parent — may develop either an Oedipus or Electra Complex.


Psychological  Defence Mechanisms

Our ego is very delicate and fragile and so we often use ways and means to try to protect it.  In the face of confusion, disappointment, failure, conflict and frustration, our psyche needs help to cope. Without “psychological crutches” we become stressed or anxious. We can have three reactions to Anxiety or stress:

  1. Attack problem and develop solutions.
  2. Ignore the problem, hope it will go away.
  3. Defend ourselves (our ego, self esteem, image).

The fight or flight reaction.


Psychological Mechanisms

 I           SUBSTITUTIONCompensating

·        Overdoing one thing to cover up deficiencies in other areas.

·        Conversationalist — good talker — not a doer.

II          REPRESSION – Blocking

·        Try to forget failures or unfortunate incident.

·        We forget to perform unpleasant duties.

III        RATIONALISATION – Justifications

·        We substitute a “good reason” for an action rather than the real one.

·        Wishful thinking — not reasoning.

IV         REGRESSION – Reverting to former states.

·        Reverting to childish behaviour or habits.

·        Often covers up fact that we can not cope with problem.


·        Basic drives become expressed in socially accepted forms.

·        Hostility expressed in competitive sports.

·        A blood thirsty individual becomes a butcher.


·       Role-playing — we take on characteristics of a person we admire. A Hero—worship or modelling (apeing).


·        Protective shell.

·        Being aloof, distant, unconcerned, cold, “don’t  care”.

·        Self-sufficient, detached “cool”.

VIII      SCAPEGOATING – Justification

·        Blaming our own faults, deficiencies, inadequacies on others.


·        Trying to remain objective, analytical, untouched in an emotionally threatening event.

X          MALINGERING – A Psycho-somatic disorder.

·        Adjusting through injury.

·        Taking to your bed.

·        Having a headache.

·        Feeling sick to the stomach.

XI         AGGRESSION Reacting rather than responding to a situation.

·        You become overwhelmed by frustration and a sense of powerlessness or impotence to the extent that you react in a violent, vindictive and destructive manner.


In 1974 US newspaper heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army. Over the course of the next three months she warmed to their cause and embraced it; she slung an M1 carbine over her shoulder and pulled a bank robbery for them.

Hearst may be the classic example of the Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological phenomenon in which hostages eventually identify with their captors.


A family member suggests that they all drive 53 miles to Abilene that night for dinner. One by one they agree. Great idea. They drive to Abilene; the meal sucks. And on the way home they all confide they actually didn’t want to go to Abilene in the first place.


Merits of Psychological Approach: 

In the right hands, this approach can be useful in understanding motivation and causality.  Psychoanalysis has helped us to understand human behaviour and many writers have explored this field to great advantage.

Freud’s contribution to the formative and impressionable childhood years has also assisted us in providing conditions to maximise children’s potential. 


Limitations of Psychological Approach:

While beneficial, we have to realise that Psychoanalysis alone will not lead to a full understanding of a work of art.  There are many other valid interpretations.



Electronic Sources: (Taken on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 15.10.) (Taken on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 15.15.) (Taken on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 15.05.) (Taken on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 08.19.)

Goodbye, Mid-term Test! Hello, Baru Beach!

3 Mei 2013

Tak terasa, tahun 2013 sudah menginjak bulan kelima. Alhamdulillah, aku masih bisa menghirup udara segar di pagi hari dan polusi di siang hingga malam hari.

Dan, Alhamdulillah, hari ini adalah hari terakhir Ujian Tengah Semester a.k.a UTS. Sudah ujian terakhir, hanya tanda tangan pula! Kok bisa? Tentu saja! Trending topic tentang “kentang panas” telah berakhir kemarin. Penasaran dengan “kentang panas”? Silakan masuk ke kelas IT (Instructional Technology)-ku 😀

Sekitar pukul 12an aku iseng-iseng membuka WhatsApp. Dan, aku baru tahu kalau teman-teman sekelas akan refresh ke Pantai Baru pukul 14.30. Otakku langsung berputar. Ikut? Tidak? Ikut? Tidak? Ikut saja lah! FYI, ini untuk pertama kalinya aku jalan-jalan dengan teman-teman kelas F 2010. Padahal, sudah berapa lama, ya, kita bersama? 😛

Sesuai kesepakatan, pukul 14.30 harus sudah berkumpul di kampus. Sayang sekali, aku baru menemukan Hany “teronggok” di depan kampus entah dengan siapa 😛 Ini yang lain mana? Ah, mungkin sekalian sholat Ashar. Tak lama kemudian, Riza dan Chandra datang. Ah ya! Tentunya aku tidak datang sendirian. Seperti biasa, aku mengajak Mba Nisa untuk menemaniku. Bukan apa-apa, aku malas saja kalau harus naik motor sendirian tanpa boncengan. Tidak ada yang bisa diajak bicara. Cengok!

5 tahun kemudian…

Kami masih menunggu. Riza mulai ngomel.

Huah, setelah hampir satu jam (atau sudah satu jam, ya?) kami menunggu, datanglah teman-teman yang kami tunggu-tunggu.

The trip is begun

Butuh waktu yang agak lama untuk bisa sampai di Pantai Baru. Selain jarak yang kami tempuh lumayan jauh, kami tidak boleh mengebut sebab takut ada yang ketinggalan. Nyatanya, Amel, Karia dan Luthfi tetap ketinggalan 😀 Tetapi mereka justru sampai di jembatan terlebih dulu (aku tidak tahu nama jembatannya)–menunggu kami.

Sesi pemotretan pun dimulai…

Alin in Action

Alin in Action

Terima kasih banyak untuk Mba Nisa yang sudah mau menjadi fotografer-ku 😀

Fotografer-ku justru enggan difoto.

Fotografer-ku justru enggan difoto.

Nggg… Tidak banyak yang bisa aku ceritakan dari perjalanan kali ini. Yang pasti, pantai adalah pilihan terbaik ketika suntuk menyerang!

Dan, untuk teman-teman sekelas yang tidak bisa kusebutkan satu per satu, hari ini benar-benar menjadi hari yang menyenangkan. Thank you, guys! Amazing! 😀 Yuk, lagi! 😀

PBI-F 2010 di Pantai Baru.

PBI-F 2010 di Pantai Baru.