Grotesques Essay by Prosephina

Uses Sherwood Anderson's theory of the grotesque and Freud's theory of repression to discuss two stories in "Winesburg, Ohio":- "Hands" and "Godliness Part III".
# 46031 | 1,914 words | 0 sources | 2003 | US
Published on Dec 09, 2003 in Literature (American)

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Because the characters in Anderson's "Winesberg, Ohio" have difficulty communicating or even understanding their innermost feelings, it seems safe to say that the characters are psychologically repressed, as Freud explains the term. This paper asks what we gain and what we lose from thinking about inner life in the way that Anderson and Freud suggest. Are these theories of repression and the grotesque useful theories for thinking about inner life?

From the Paper:

"In Winesburg, Ohio Sherwood Anderson creates an outwardly quaint midwestern town whose inhabitants all seem to harbor some deep personal sadness. Anderson refers to these characters as "grotesques," a term he introduces in the book's prologue. The old writer from the prologue, who possibly represents Anderson himself, believes that hundreds of beautiful man-made truths exist in the world, and that these truth have a way of distorting and warping people when seized with a certain single-mindedness: "the moment one of the people took one of the truths to himself, called it his truth, and tried to live his life by it, he became a grotesque and the truth he embraced became a false-hood" (26). Each story that follows brings the reader into the inner life of one of these characters at that crucial moment. The resulting disillusionment and sadness seems to come from the character's inability to fully grasp his or her situation. Certain thoughts and feelings are repressed, leaving Anderson's characters isolated and emotionally disfigured. In delving into these dark inner lives, Anderson relies heavily on the ideas of Sigmund Freud, particularly Freud's concept of repression the ego ridding itself of unacceptable ideas and desires by "dumping" them into the unconscious. This repression, according to Freud, has a tendency to resurface in many negative ways, resulting in various forms of neurosis. From what Anderson and Freud suggest, we learn that when a person is repressed, they become a figure of the grotesque. We can use these theories to avoid being a part of the grotesque ourselves."

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