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FRAZER WILLIAMSON.

PSYCHOLOGY AND CREATIVE WRITING.

195

CHAPTER EIGHT.

If the universe has been around forever, and will be around forever, as Aristotle and other Greek philosophers believed, why haven’t human beings developed a more utopian society in which there are no minority groups, and wherein, liberty, equality, and fraternity, co-operation, and preservation and respect for life are the keynotes? The Greek philosophers did not allow this question to go unanswered. Human progress, they said, was retarded by periodic floods and other natural disasters which repeatedly returned the human race back to square one. Now we have other theories concerning the universe, and know that it has not been around forever, and will not be around forever. The prevalent view at the moment is that the universe came into being at a time when there was a singularity known as the “Big Bang” and has been expanding ever since, until it will come to a point where it may or may not collapse in a “Big Crunch”. So, Homo Sapiens has not created a utopian society because it has not been around long enough to do so.


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According to Bishop Ussher, the universe and the world was created by God in 4004BC, which is approximately the date of the last ice age which is when human beings as we know them appeared. In the course of time, Homo Sapiens developed not only speech, but written language, which enabled progress to the point where they began to ask about the nature of the world, the universe, and everything. Human kind evolved and evolutionary theory had a great influence upon writers, and Shaw referred to it when he had Don Juan in MAN AND SUPERMAN say that woman “knows by instinct that far back in the evolutionary process” she invented man, “differentiated him, created him in order to produce something better than the single-sexed process can produce.” Modern western society has its foundations firmly planted in the Judeo-Christian writings of the Old and New Testaments, just as the Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations had their roots in the literature of Homer’s ILIAD and ODYSSEY. The sixty-six books of the Christian Bible have male authors. In the first chapter of GENESIS we read:


FRAZER WILLIAMSON.

PSYCHOLOGY AND CREATIVE WRITING.

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And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female, created he them. And God blessed them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth (vs 27-28). Does this mean that both male and female were created separately in God’s image, and held in equal esteem in his eyes, and that one was not superior to the other? If it does, then why are we reading in the second chapter that God created a man called Adam, to whom he gave dominion of the earth, and then created a woman called Eve, from one of Adam’s ribs? And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of man.”


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Was this written to ensure the dominance of men in the Judeo tradition and place women in an inferior or subordinate position? Does it not contradict the spirit of the words in Genesis 1:27-28 which makes men and woman equal but different in function, so that, in order to be fruitful and multiply there needs to be complementarity and equilibrium. Equally, MATTHEW, the first book presented in the New Testament devotes the whole of the first chapter to the genealogy of Joseph, saying that: Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the birth of Christ. But if Joseph had nothing to do physically or spiritually with the birth of Christ, then what is this long list of fathers and sons doing here if not to reinforce the dominance of men which had been established with the Jewish scriptures? One would have thought a genealogy of Mary who “was found with child through the Holy Spirit would have been more germane. When it say in the first chapter of GENESIS that “the Spirit of God moved over the face of the water’s” the word for the Holy Spirit is in the feminine gender, and yet I have never heard from any pulpit in any Christian church or Jewish synagogue the Holy Spirit being referred to as “she”; always “he”.


FRAZER WILLIAMSON.

PSYCHOLOGY AND CREATIVE WRITING.

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Taking the second chapter of GENESIS literally and wholly inspired by the Holy Spirit with no input from the men who penned the words, leads to the production of such books as OMPHALOS by Philip Henry Gosse. Omphalos is the Greek word for navel, and in this book, Gosse, who battled with the conflict of being a natural scientist and a Plymouth Brethren fundamentalist, argued that Adam, the first man, had indeed had a navel which was prochronic. According to Gosse, all natural processes move in a cycle from fertilized egg to organism, to fertilized egg. This cycle was in the mind of God before he created, and he broke in on this ideal cycle, physically, when he created Adam as a fully fledged adult. Adam, of course, was born with a navel because he must of necessity bear the traces of the previous stages in this cycle, even if these stages had no existence in real time. Adam’s navel was, therefore, before time: prochronic. Such arguments do little to promote the real metaphysics of Faith in Christ.


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A struggle for power later emerged within the Christian church between the Apostolic Traditionalists and the Gnostic Christians. It was a clash of two very different patterns of sexual attitudes. The Gnostic Christians co-related their description of God in both masculine and feminine terms with a complementary description of human nature. The Apostolic Christians described God and the Holy Spirit in masculine terms with a complementary description of human interaction. This orthodox view, translated into social action meant the dominance of males over females as the divinely ordained order, not only for family life, but for church life as well. The Gnostic view, translated into social and political structures meant equality between men and women, and this doctrine to the Orthodox leaders, who claimed descent from the Apostles, constituted a threat to their power. Tertullian had this to say: These heretical women, how audacious they are. They have no modesty. They are bold enough to teach, to engage in argument, to enact exorcisms, to undertake cures, and it may be, even to baptize. It is not permitted for a woman to speak in church nor is it permitted for her to teach or baptize, nor to offer the Eucharist, nor to claim for herself a share in any masculine function - not to mention any priestly office.


FRAZER WILLIAMSON.

PSYCHOLOGY AND CREATIVE WRITING.

201

At the beginning of the Christian era, the hierarchical forms of Roman marriage were giving way to a legalized form in which man and woman contracted to one another with voluntary and mutual vows. Women of the upper classes often insisted upon living their own lives and became involved in business and social life without their husbands. Recognizing change, Clement, while identifying himself as Orthodox, eclectically included the Gnostic pattern of thought concerning women into his writing. Characterizing God in feminine as well as masculine terms, he said: Men and women share equally in perfection and are to receive the same instruction and the same discipline. For the name “humanity� is common to both men and women, and for us in Christ, there is neither male nor female. There was a persuasive power in Gnostic thinking, but it was stamped out in the fourth century A.D. when, with the conversion of Constantine, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. The Orthodox priests, now in command of the police, seized the Gnostics, and burned their literature.


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A woman in today’s western society must recognize certain facts. That she lives in a culture which, in essence, is masculine. That a society which is devoted to masculine values despises and rejects women. That a society in which women no longer exercise any influence will order itself increasingly in accordance with masculine values. That women have been ascribed a subordinate role which involves performing services for the dominant male that he does not want to perform for himself. That the functions preferred by the males are guarded and closed to women, and that these are the most highly valued functions in the culture.


FRAZER WILLIAMSON.

PSYCHOLOGY AND CREATIVE WRITING.

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A woman will have a hard time convincing the males that she is capable of performing these preferred activities. She may also find it difficult to believe in her own ability to do so because of her socialization. She will find that men will usually impede her development and block her freedom of expression and action, She will also find that in action and words the dominant males tend to be destructive to the subordinate women. She will realize that by doing so they have a destructive effect upon themselves as well, because she may resort to disguised and indirect ways of acting and reacting so that males are deprived of the opportunity to acquire self-understanding through knowing their impact upon others. Males are also denied negative feedback and a chance to correct and regulate their actions and expressions. A woman will probably absorb part of the untruths created by the males and may imitate males to the extent of treating their fellow females as destructively as they have been treated themselves by the males. But, as women move towards freer expression and action, the inequality will be exposed and the basis for existence questioned.


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In LITTLE TALES OF MISOGYNY Patricia Highsmith explores the relationships of man against woman, woman against woman, and woman against her inner self. In a story called THE DANCER Claudette and Rodolphe dance marvellously together at a night club called “The Rendez-vous” where jaded male members of society come to watch. The two become lovers. Journalists, trying to spice their columns, described their act as sado-masochistic, because Rodolphe often appeared to be choking Claudette to death. He would seize her throat and advance, bending her backwards, or he would retreat - it didn’t matter - keeping her throat in the grip of his hands, sometimes shaking her neck so that her hair tossed wildly. Thinking that deprivation would whet Rodolphe’s sexual appetite, Claudette stops sleeping with him, and then becomes whimsically promiscuous with two or three other richer men. Rodolphe asks her to stop, but the men keep turning up every evening. Then one night, before an audience of two hundred, Rodolphe danced a splendid tango:


FRAZER WILLIAMSON.

PSYCHOLOGY AND CREATIVE WRITING.

He pressed himself against her as usual, and she bent backwards. “More! More!” cried the audience, mostly men, as Rodolphe’s hands tightened about her throat. Claudette always pretended to suffer, to love Rodolphe and to suffer at the hands of his passion in the dance. This time she did not rise when he released her as he usually did. He had strangled her, too tightly for her to cry out. Rodolphe walked off the little stage, and left Claudette for other people to pick up.

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In this story Highsmith leaves the interpretation open for the reader. My own version is that dancing requires a high degree of complementarity and equilibrium, and this is the state of order at the beginning of the story. Then they become lovers. The narrative voice tells us that they wanted to marry but their employer thought they were more titillating to the customers if they were not married, so they remained single. This first infringement upon the desires of the unified couple begins the process of the breakdown of complementarity and equilibrium. Usually, in real life, failure in complementarity means that two individuals will need another person to help them change their roles and restore complementarity. But neither their employer nor their clientele representing the dominance of the male values in society are interested in the salvation of the two dancers. And so the story progresses, with a slowly rising conflict, through a state of disorder characterized by Claudette’s capitulation to the norms of male dominance, in the form of promiscuity, and Rodolphe’s growing sense of abandonment and isolation.


FRAZER WILLIAMSON.

PSYCHOLOGY AND CREATIVE WRITING.

207

Again, in real life, failure in equilibrium can come about either by role-reversal, which indicates that some attempt is being made to understand the other person’s position, or by role modification, through the introduction of humour, exploration of the facts, and compromise. Neither Claudette nor Rodolphe put themselves in each others position, and there is no exploration of the facts other than Rodolphe asking Claudette to drop her three men, and there was no humour or compromise. So the story develops from a state of order, through a state of disorder, to a state of restored order which is a great deal less viable that the state of the original order. The attitude here is tragic, the premise being that in a male dominated society, both men and women suffer tragically. Of course, the fictional world created by an author is not as complex as the real world and the premise of the story is only specific to the situation of the story and is not a universal truth. And it may be that universal truths stemming from psychological research may not be universal truths. When male psychologists investigate aspects of female behaviour such as “motherhood”, they start with the idea that women want, first of all, to be the womanly companions of men, and then to be mothers. This idea comes from a socialization with its basis in GENESIS chapter two:


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But for Adam there was not found a helpmeet. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and while he slept he took one of his ribs... which he built up and make into a woman, and brought her to the man. This makes men some sort of standard or norm against which women are compared and judged. In THE MISMEASURE OF WOMAN Tarvis has this to say: Many women experience tremendous conflict in trying to decide whether to be “like” men or “opposite” from them, and this conflict is itself evidence of the implicit make standard against which they are measuring themselves. This is why it is normal for a woman to feel abnormal. When psychological studies use men as a basis of comparison, it turns out that women have lower self-esteem than men; women don’t value their own efforts as much as men; women are less self-confident than men; women are more likely to say they’re hurt, than to admit they’re angry; women have more difficulty in developing a separate sense of self. These studies, which are usually conducted by men usually conclude with a discussion of why women have all these problems.


FRAZER WILLIAMSON.

PSYCHOLOGY AND CREATIVE WRITING.

209

If the same studies had used women as a basis for comparison it might have turned out that men are more conceited than women; men overvalue the work they do; men are not as realistic as women in assessing their abilities; men are more likely to accuse or attack others when unhappy, instead of stating that they feel hurt or require sympathy; men have more difficulty in forming and maintaining relationships. Such studies might conclude with a discussion of why men have all these problems. It is only when the female norm is used that the male bias becomes apparent. Even women are used to seeing women as having problems and weaknesses, even though men and women have the same mood swings and the same number of days of physical discomfort per month. Women, however, suffer from “pre-menstrual syndrome” but men do not suffer from a “hyper or hypo testosterone syndrome.” When men have problems such as alcoholism and other drug abuse and behave anti-socially in violent ways, the causes are looked for in their upbringings, while women’s problems result either from their psyche or their hormones.


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In America taking men to be the norm and women to be the problem has led to the selling of books which offer women self-help to become as rational, intelligent, and as confident as men. With these books they can “fix� themselves. The debate about gender and gender differences should not be about whether or not men and women differ, but about how the differences should be interpreted and whether or not they reflect permanent biological, intra-individual traits that are necessary for the survival of the species, whether a person be white, black, brown, or yellow. In 1994, Herrnstein and Murray had THE BELL CURVE published. The book is an interpretation of the data of other social scientists, thus the credibility of their interpretation depends upon the credibility of their sources. Herrnstein and Murray were influenced by scholars linked to THE MANKIND QUARTERLY, a journal dealing with race and inheritance founded and funded by men who believe in the genetic superiority of the white race.


FRAZER WILLIAMSON.

PSYCHOLOGY AND CREATIVE WRITING.

One of the principles of doing any kind of research is first of all to review the previous literature on the subject under examination. Herrnstein and Murray were guided through this review by Richard Lynn, erstwhile professor of psychology at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. In CIVILIZATION AND THE QUALITY OF THE POPULATION, Lynn wrote: The poor and the ill (are) weak specimens whose proliferation needs to be discouraged in the interests of the improvement of the genetic quality of the group, and ultimately of group survival.

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In his opinion, the genetic mental superiority of the Jews may be put down to a Darwinian by-product of intermittent persecutions which the more intelligent had been able to foresee and flee. Lynn’s data on Black African Intelligence is a big factor in THE BELL CURVE. In RACE DIFFERENCE IN INTELLIGENCE: THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE. Lynn said that the mean black African IQ was 70. He arrived at this score by taking Ken Owen’s testing of 1,093 sixteen year old South African students, using the South African Junior Aptitude Test and rounding up the mean score of 69 to 70. Lynn then claimed that this result was a valid approximation of black IQ for the whole continent of Africa. He also argued that this score was an indication that IQ was inherited. Ken Owen attributes the low performance of the blacks on environmental factors such as poor schooling for blacks under apartheid at the time, and not at all an indication of IQ among blacks as a whole. In TEST PERFORMANCE OF BLACKS IN SOUTHERN AFRICA. Kendall, Verster and von Mollendorf write:


FRAZER WILLIAMSON.

PSYCHOLOGY AND CREATIVE WRITING.

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It would be rash to suppose that psychometric tests constitute valid measures of intelligence among non-westerners. The inability of most psychologists to look beyond the confines of their own culture has led to a kind of arrogance whereby judgements are made concerning the “simplicity” of African mental structure and “retarded” cognitive growth. If it is important for the non-fiction writer to interpret correctly research presented to him or her, it is equally important that the creative fiction writer interprets the behaviour of his or her characters in keeping with the society presented in the story, novel, or play. The fiction writer needs to be meticulous in his or her research with regard to the society in which (s)he sets his or her work. Time, place, and person, also have to be congruent to the social setting.


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The difference between nineteenth century novels, and modern historical novels written about characters in the nineteenth century, can be the difference between reality and a fancy-dress ball. Usually, in an historical novel set in the nineteenth century, it is not uncommon to find the heroine using twentieth century attitudes and knowledge to overcome the nineteenth century male chauvinists, or nineteenth century heroes agonizing with doubts their forefathers did not have. In a modern, commercial, historical, novel the end is predictable, and there is little sense of physical realism or psychological truth which is time related, as there is in Constant’s ADOLPHE, Flaubert’s MADAM BOVARY, and James’ PORTRAIT OF A LADY. In each of these novels what is written was related to the problems of everyday life at the time. But even so, the realism in these novels is literary realism and not life-realism. Constant wrote ADOLPHE in 1806. The narrator’s voice is fictional, and while there are aspects of Constant’s life which are relevant to the fiction, this does not mean that they are directly transposed into the action as part of his own history. The first person narrator is not Constant but Adolphe, and the reader is meant to distinguish clearly between an invented character and a real person. Not to do so would be to attribute to this fiction historical reality or truth that does not exist.


FRAZER WILLIAMSON.

PSYCHOLOGY AND CREATIVE WRITING.

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In MADAM BOVARY and in THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY we are also dealing with invented people. Flaubert and James strictly control the environment and society in which Emma Bovary and Isobel Archer move, and when Flaubert said, if ever he did, “I am Madam Bovary�, we must understand him to mean that here was a character he created with such intensity that she became internalized into his thinking and feeling. The same can be said for the characters created by Constant and James. These three novels lack what would be essential to a good historian; factual truth concerning physical beings alive or dead, at certain points in time and place. Yet, while these characters lack an actual physical realism, the way they are described provides them with the three dimensions of full-blooded characters. ADOLPHE deals with the decadent and libertine aristocratic society of the late eighteenth century; MADAM BOVARY with the French provincial bourgeois society during the reign of Louis Philippe (1830-1840) and THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY with the moneyed American and European society of the late 1800s.


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In none are there descriptions of historical figures of the times, or how historical happenings affected the protagonists’ lives. Even if there were, as in Thackery’s VANITY FAIR and Tolstoy’s ANNA KARENINA, Constant, Flaubert and James would have manipulated the facts and set forth their point of view about the human condition. Nor is there geographical reality in the settings of these novels. The authors leave such data installation to the readers. In each novel historical and geographical reality is not a real quality. It is, however, a quality which is relative to the reader who provides the reality, perhaps from personal experiences of the places, travel books, biographies, autobiographies, or from the prefaces of the novels themselves. In ADOLPHE, Italy and Poland are mentioned, but they could be anywhere for all the difference they make to the story. The reader adds his or her impressions of these places to round out the story. In MADAM BOVARY Rouen is the only actual place. Tostes and Jouville are created by Flaubert. In THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY America, England, Paris, and Rome, are not described in realistic terms. There may be as much or as little historical and geographical realism in a modern historical novel written by Catherine Cookson, but we do not get from any of her books the sense of what is invented could be immediately encountered in everyday life.


FRAZER WILLIAMSON.

PSYCHOLOGY AND CREATIVE WRITING.

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Realism is an impermanent quality. It changes from culture to culture, from time to time, and from place to place. Each age has its own literary conventions. In the literature of the middle ages, the road to the right was not the actual direction, it was the road to virtue. Through a forest of briars and thorns meant that the road to virtue was a difficult one full of obstacles. Fully armed meant the knight was armed with virtue, and all the people he meets on his journey had allegorical significance. During different periods of European literature, writers presented life not as it really was, but filtered and shaped in ways which highlighted certain things and ignored others, thus giving the illusion that what was being described was real. Take for instance this passage from MADAM BOVARY: It was at mealtimes that she felt most utterly weary, in the little dining room on the ground floor, with the stove that smoked, the door that creaked, the walls that oozed, and the damp flagstones; all the bitterness of existence seemed to her to be served up on her plate, and with the steam of the stew there rose from the depth of her soul, as it were, other clouds of insipidity. Charles was a long time over his food; she used to nibble a few nuts, or perhaps, leaning on her elbow, would amuse herself by making lines on the oil-cloth with the point of her knife.


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This strong description conveys Emma’s feeling of boredom and resentment. It seems all very realistic because there is an accumulation of circumstantial detail. Flaubert carefully contrives it and due to its being written in the imperfect tense, there is the implication that the stove smoked every evening, the door was never oiled, the walls ran with water during summer and winter, and that Emma cooked nothing but stew, had an inexhaustible store of nuts, red elbows, and a cicatriced oil-cloth. In reality, there would have been variation, so this is not a real incident. But it is a typical incident, which is a very different thing. Flaubert has picked little bits and pieces out of his imagined life of Emma Bovary and put them all together, selecting and synthesizing and presenting them to the reader who organizes and interprets them as an impression of Emma’s life. There is a true collaboration here between writer and reader, who is creating part of the reality of the fictional situation. Constant and James do the same. From their different times, cultures, and places, they give different pictures of life, imposing different literary patterns, none of which are truly realistic.


FRAZER WILLIAMSON.

PSYCHOLOGY AND CREATIVE WRITING.

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ADOLPHE and THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY are written as representative experience. The Baron in ADOLPHE represents an impersonal society which lacks the genuine bond of emotion needed to provide the sympathetic insight into the feelings of Adolphe who is in need of moral guidance in a society which reckons the feelings and worth of a woman to be of no account when balanced against the selfinterest of the male lover. The characters in ADOLPHE are more representative than realistic.


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In THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY there is a strong metaphorical component which, again, limits its realism. James uses seemingly realistic elements of geographical settings and social institutions to realize metaphorical possibilities. Embedded in the novel is the Christian story of man’s fall and redemption. Gardencourt is the “Eden” where, in innocence, Isobel Archer begins her career, and from where she ventures out bearing the burden of Ralph’s gift of freedom. Osmond is the classic image of the Satanic figure of evil in the garden, and Isobel is deceived by the beautiful veneer of his manners. Ralph is the son whose death frees Isobel from Osmond. His spirit supports her and she is able to return to Rome having gained a higher innocence. Ralph’s father is the ultimate source of Isobel’s freedom. No longer committed to “this base ignoble world” she is in the state of mankind after Salvation. James’ use of metaphor, Constant’s use of representation, and Flaubert’s use of synthesis deny these novels the quality of life’s realism.


FRAZER WILLIAMSON.

PSYCHOLOGY AND CREATIVE WRITING.

221

Art, said Plato, was third in succession from the throne of truth. The Europes described by Constant, Flaubert and James, are not the Ideal Eruopes which exist somewhere in Platonic theory. Neither are they the sensible particulars of the actual Europes. They are reflections of the Europes, and as such they have least reality. For Aristotle, Plato’s ideal forms did not exist independently, but existed embodied in the sensible particulars. Literature, for Aristotle, represents both sensible particulars and theoretical knowledge, and when an author represents sensible particulars, action, life, (s)he is communicating universal psychological truths, not as theoretical propositions, but exemplified in the action and events of the fiction. Constant, Flaubert, and James, like all good novelists, knew that if they gave a lot less than full information about persons, objects, and situations, they could rely upon the reader to round out and complete the picture according to what they believed to be psychological truths. Adolphe, Emma, and Isobel, from the reader’s perception, are individual personalities influenced by their early experiences. In each case the child was father or mother to the man or woman.


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Adolphe deliberately calculates Ellenore’s seduction because he has grown up in a society where he has learned to adopt “a somewhat immoral attitude to women”, and where, as long as marriage was not contemplated “there was no harm in taking any woman and then dropping her”. Emma has a dreamy, imaginative, habit of mind which tends to dwell upon possibilities derived from literature, because she has read romantic verse; Scott and Hugo, and she imagines herself involved in the situation of the female characters. Nevertheless, she is, at heart, like the rest of her society, a small town bourgeois, holding conventional ideas, having picked these up from the philistines who were preoccupied with material gain and conventional values. Isobel, too, is a fictionalist, who lives through novels and German philosophy, and her character is moulded by the people she comes in contact with. The psychological truths emerging here are: that interaction with the environment plays an important part in the growth and development of personality from an early age; that attitudes are formed by association, need satisfaction, and transfer; and that life is not lived in a vacuum, awareness of ourselves is achieved through relationships with others.


FRAZER WILLIAMSON.

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Adolphe is a highly intelligent young man, placed in a position of having to deal with a human relationship where intellectualized attitudes tend to complicate rather than sort out the interpersonal problems. With Ellenore he has an I-it relationship, rather than an I-thou relationship where she would be thought of primarily as a person. Ellenore has, for Adolphe’s sake, sacrificed her security, children, and social approval. She suffers hurt pride, and the shame of a ruined reputation, and finally has to suffer Adolphe’s failure to respond to her passionate and self-sacrificing devotion. Society punishes Adolphe for poking fun at it, and holding a mirror up to it, and he succumbs to its inexorable pressure and betrays Ellenore. Adolphe tells his story from a very biased point of view, and if it were not for the two short peripheral texts, his whole narration would be a successful act of persuading the reader to support the “rightness” of his behaviour. Adolphe seems incapable of experiencing anything but sudden bursts of excitement which he confuses with love, but which are psychological reactions to obstacles set in the path of his own vanity. Even when his passion for Ellenore is spent, and she is going to be expelled by his father, his tired emotion revives enough to give him the illusion of passion.


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Emma Bovary lives in a brick-walled society, unable to accommodate even her limited outward looking inspiration. It ascribed her the role of housewife and mother. Married to Charles, her life is restricted and all that she cannot have becomes all the more attractive to her. But her affairs with Rodolphe and Leon prove to be the means of ending all her romantic notions, and her experiences of trying to raise the money to pay back Lhereux leads to her death. Concerned with her own wants, she failed to see how Lhereux was using her for his own ends.


FRAZER WILLIAMSON.

PSYCHOLOGY AND CREATIVE WRITING.

225

Isobel Archer also has a great desire for life and freedom, yet she attempts to follow the dictates of an authoritarian society. She believes herself to be free and wishes to remain so. What she actually experiences is restriction and other people’s interference with her independence. Mrs Touchett brings her to Europe paying most of her expenses. Ralph plans with his father to provide her with money. Madam Merle and Osmond plot against her and expect her to condone and comply with their plot concerning Lord Warburton. Married to Osmond, she finds that Pansy is Osmond’s daughter with Madam Merle, and her conflict with duty and authority culminates in her disobedience to Osmond. Unlike Ellenore and Emma, Isobel does not die, either from the trauma of betrayal or from suicide. Freed from Osmond, she returns to him with the world again at her feet. She chooses to accept the responsibility that real freedom demands.


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We can recognize in these novels additional psychological truths: that intellectual knowledge is no guarantee that interpersonal problems can be coped with successfully; that women in European society are regarded as subordinate to the dominant males; that individuals are in conflict with society which puts pressure on them to conform; that in all dyads there is conflict; that individuals tend to rationalize their behaviour; that the individual experiences limitation in life; that there is a tendency to want that which is denied or no longer available; that ultimately society is impersonal towards the individual; that betrayal in some form or other is a fact of life. So, there is no reason why any one of us should not be able to write a novel containing little or no historical or geographical realism, if we are prepared to work on our characters so that we present them in three dimensions, and communicating psychological truths. Realism is not a quality of the fictional work. It is a quality relative to the readers, and while the premise of the story does not have to be a universal fact, the character’s thoughts, feelings, and actions, have to articulate and communicate universal psychological truths.


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