Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.
Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.
(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)
The hero's quest for identity in fantasy literature: A Jungian analysis
As a genre, fantasy seeks to validate the unconscious world of dreams, to insist not merely on its existence in the human psyche, but on its essential, vital presence. A work of fantasy begins, typically, with the implicit or explicit suggestion of "preferable modes of reality" (Spivack 1987, x) and moves toward the hero's integration of previously unconscious elements of the self. The narrative structure mirrors that movement: at the heart of fantasy is the journey toward a goal and the subsequent return home. This circular journey is an apt metaphor for the quest for identity, which is the focus of my dissertation. To be "at home"--spiritually and soulfully with our deepest selves, one guide in the fantasy realm insists--is the ultimate goal of mortal life.^ The introductory chapter contains an overview of relevant Jungian concepts of archetypes and the collective unconscious and Eriksonian life-cycle psychology which help illuminate the universal elements of the hero's quest. The choice of works for my study reflects my premise that the quest for identity takes shape according to the hero's place in the life cycle. The pragmatic values, goals, and struggles of persona-crafting, for example, differ greatly from those of mid-life reckoning with mortality. Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and John Ruskin's tale, "The King of the Golden River", are the focus of the second chapter, which concerns the individuation of child heroes. The third chapter treats works with heroes in the transformative stage between adolescence and adulthood: Spenser's The Faerie Queene, Book I, Ursula Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea, and George MacDonald's Phantastes. In the fourth chapter, the quest for a renewed sense of identity takes the form of a dialectic between past and present selves in C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces and Le Guin's Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea. The concluding chapter examines MacDonald's Lilith and H. Rider Haggard's She, two works which give imaginative treatment to concepts of afterlife and the unnatural prolongation of mortal life, respectively. ^
Literature, English|Psychology, Personality
Lisa Stapleton Melanson,
"The hero's quest for identity in fantasy literature: A Jungian analysis"
(January 1, 1994).
Electronic Doctoral Dissertations for UMass Amherst.