Sunday, April 25, 2010

Working Final Paper on Freud's unconscious in Nightwood by Djuna Barnes

Robin Vote, in Nightwood by Djuna Barnes, represents the bazaar unconscious that remains misunderstood in a separate language of images. She appears mostly at night where she wanders through the streets in search of no one, while Nora is trying to catch or connect with her. However, like the unconscious, she is unattainable and only an image of one’s mind. She is not filled with words, like the Doctor, Mathew O’Connor, but filled with deeper meaning of her actions. She does not use valuable words of comfort, like the Doctor, but she reveals alarming secrets or shocking truths. Robin attracts people with her primitive innocence and her horrid strangeness. The last scene of Nightwood sets up the unconscious to communicate with Nora’s dog. Through sounds and movements the goal of communication is won from Robin to Nora. With Robin’s openness to lesbian relationships of her own, and her willingness to abandon her son, as well as her cross-dressing to abandon gender lines, she rejects all norms set to society. Not only does she reject the norms, but she also rejects the day, the rituals that are planned and structured. She rejects language and communication with others and above all she rejects the will to love any other than herself. Therefore, the last scene of the novel is able to conclude Robin Vote as the unconscious, her actions, her lack of speech, her presence only at night and her primitive innocence to share communication with Nora’s dog.
I am going to explore Robin’s minimal relationships with others that grow in love and attached to her by her strangeness and innocence that she projects. Then I will begin to explore her sleepwalking and her interactions with the night and the people that are awake as well. After, I will make a connection with the night in which the unconscious appears and the savages in people are revealed or feared, which Robin represents. When I have made this connection between the night and the darkness that unravels, I will use the last scene to show how all aspects of the Freudian unconscious are present. Robin’s behavior, her attire, the setting and time, as well as the uncertain meaning of the novels ending all lead to the equation to how the unconscious is revealed and identified. The unconscious mind, as well as Robin, is bazaar, dark, indescribable, and unwilling to be constrained or confounded by the world. My ending point of this paper will be that Robin, as the unconscious, cannot love because it sets limitations to herself. Even Nora looses capability to love Robin, because she is incapable of loving the ambiguous. Since she cannot see Robin, only images of her, the love is lost or never attained. Love then becomes a narcissist event, in which the lover creates images of the beloved and beauty is no longer a miracle to the mind, but its own creation.

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