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Psychoanalytical Tensions and Conflicts of Characters’ Interactions in Ian McEwan's The Cement Garden

By Roohollah Reesi Sistani, Ruzy Suliza Hashim and Shahizah Ismail Hamdan


AbstractThe Cement Garden, first published in 1978, is mainly centred on four traumatized siblings whose parents die suddenly, first the father, then the mother. Encountering this bitter emotional deprivation in their relationships with their primary loved objects, their parents (particularly the mother), the children struggle with their surroundings they reside in in order to survive both physically and emotionally. The novel goes beyond the normal limits in investigating the impact of abnormal situations on human relationships. In this paper, we present a close reading of The Cement Garden by elucidating some of the psychoanalytical reflections of Jack, the narrator, and his siblings concentrating on the mother- child theory and interactions between them. Earlier psychoanalytical studies have acknowledged the conflicts in McEwan's works. Nevertheless, in this study, we trace the psychoanalytical origins of the psychic anxieties and tensions into childhood and also highlight a much earlier female (mother) influence. This research aims to explore these psychic anxieties and the influence of this early female figure on the siblings’ relationship in the light of object relations theory of the psychoanalysis attributable to the Fairbairnian, Kleinnian, and Winnicottian analytic traditions. We will show how deprivation from the establishment of an unsatisfying contact with this primary love object (mother) can wreak havoc in the characters’ psyche and cause their ego to move towards establishing relations with their internal objects instead of natural, real objects in their external world

Publisher: The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Year: 2014
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.02.061
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