By: Cara, Kelly and Maddy
 “Psychological critics view works through the lens of psychology. They
look either at the psychological motivations of the characters or of the
authors themselves, although the former is generally considered a more
respectable approach. Most frequently, psychological critics apply
Freudian psychology to works, but other approaches (such as a Jungian
approach) also exist.”
 Freudian approach: Involves pinpointing the influence’s of the
character’s ego, superego, and id, as well as pointing out the sexual
implications in the symbols and imagery, since Freudians believe that
all human nature is motivated by sexuality.
 Jungian approach: The Jungian theory is concerned with the process of
what makes a person different form everyone else, called
individualism. Jung focuses on three parts of the human mind; the
shadow (villain in literature,) the persona, (hero,) and the anima
(heroine.) Jung is also very influential in archetypal literary criticism.
 Modern psychoanalytic criticism was created by Sigmund
 Before this idea became popular in the 1950’s,
psychoanalytical critics focused more on the author’s
psyche than the readers. “Literary works were read—
sometimes unconvincingly—as fantasies that allowed
authors to indulge repressed wishes, to protect themselves
from deep-seated anxieties, or both.”
 Freud felt that psychoanalytical critics should instead focus
on the way that author’s create literary works to appeal to
the reader’s repressed wishes and fantasies.
Advantages to the psychological
 This is a very useful tool for understanding literary
works in which the characters have obvious
psychological issues.
 Having insight into a writers psychological state can
give readers a greater understanding of their work.
 Psychological literary criticism is easily applied to
works that are highly symbolic.
Disadvantages to the psychological
 With all the focus on the psychological aspect, the
actual piece can end up being ignored.
 Critics can try to diagnose dead authors writing and
end up as not the best evidence for psychology.
 The art in the piece can end up being completely
overlooked with all the other analysis.
Psychological Approach to
Memorial Day for the War Dead
 In the poem Memorial Day for the War Dead, the author, Yehuda
Amichai discusses how death, the fear of it, its unavoidability, can act
as a common unifier between people. He writes, “And everything is in
three languages: Hebrew, Arabic, and Death. Although Hebrew and
Arabic have worked as both cultural and language barriers in Israel,
death is a common bond that unites all people, everywhere. Although
Amichai was an Israeli citizen who fought against the Palestinians in
the Arab-Israeli war, he was able to see the unifying factor of death
amongst these two rival ethnic groups. He viewed the situation fairly
objectively, unlike many other people living in Israel who are so caught
up in the violence and hate that surrounds them that they are unable to
see any shades of grey. Because of this, it can be said that Amichai is
higher up on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, transcending beyond the
need to belong and possibly even esteem needs, leaving him a selfactualized person, capable of viewing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
from every angle, and therefore wanting peace.
Works Cited