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Mollinger, S. (1979). The Divided Self in Nathaniel Hawthorne and D. H. Lawrence. Psychoanal. Rev., 66(1):79-102.

(1979). Psychoanalytic Review, 66(1):79-102

The Divided Self in Nathaniel Hawthorne and D. H. Lawrence

Shernaz Mollinger, Ph.D.


In his essay on Nathaniel Hawthorne in Studies in Classic American Literature D. H. Lawrence declares:

Nowadays men do hate the idea of dualism. It's no good, dual we are. The cross. If we accept the symbol then virtually we accept the fact. We are divided against ourselves.24a

The statement characterizes both subject and author. The dualism that Lawrence sees in Hawthorne is quite as apparent in himself. If any element links the fiction of Hawthorne and Lawrence, it is not Hawthorne's influence on Lawrence or Lawrence's criticism of Hawthorne but the striking affinity of the two writers' imaginations. The most obvious characteristic of this similarity is the necessity of both to describe experience in terms of antitheses, of irreconcilable opposites that nevertheless must somehow be reconciled or transcended.

This tendency toward dualism, and the either-or, black-and-white attitude to the world it implies, although pursued by their literary admirers, is not often discussed by either writer's psychological critics. Psychological studies have tended to concentrate overwhelmingly on the Oedipal aspects of their lives and novels. For example, the title of Frederick Crews's book on Hawthorne, The Sins of the Fathers, is an immediate intimation of his thesis that Hawthorne's “plots depict with incredible fidelity the results of an unresolved Oedipal conflict.”5 Similarly, from its earliest publication (when, as Catherine Carswell said, Lawrence was “pounced upon by the psychoanalysts”), Sons and Lovers has been usually considered to depict the classic Oedipal conflict.2,17,40

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