Discuss the importance of the 'mirror' in psychoanalytic terms with reference to Lacan's theory of the mirror stage and Angela Carter's short story 'Flesh and the Mirror'.

Essay by NitsyUniversity, Bachelor'sD+, November 2002

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Jacques Lacan draws mainly on the work of Freud and Saussure (and even Levi Strauss and Derrida) although his main influence has been by Freud. In light of structuralist and post-structuralist theories, Lacan re-reads Freud turning psychoanalysis from an essentially humanist idea or premise into a post-structuralist one. Lacan rejected Freud's goal of strengthening the ego as it can never take the place of the id. The ego, according to Lacan, is only an illusion, a product of the unconscious self. Lacanian psychoanalysis and study shows the unconscious to be the ground of all being. Where Freud is interested in investigating how an infant forms an unconscious and a superego and becomes a civilized adult, Lacan is fascinated in how the infant gets this illusion we call a 'self' (the id). Lacan believed that all aspects of human life is governed by the unconscious and is 'structured like a language' with the unconscious being fully aware of this.

Lacan created different categories in his theories to try to explain the path from infant to adulthood. His three main concepts are of the Imaginary, the Real and the Symbolic; called the Mirror Stage, the 'fort/da game' and the Phallus (borrowed from Freud's original Oedipus Theory). The sphere of the Imaginary is the demand for the fullness and the entirety of the 'other' that will stop up the lack (the irretrievable loss of the real), however, the demand cannot be satisfied with objects, but with recognition from another for love. I will be looking at how the theory of the Mirror stage has been applied to the analysis of literature by first explaining the 'Mirror Stage'.

The Mirror Stage is the moment when a child (usually between the ages of 6-18 months), who hasn't yet occupy control of it's own body or...