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Title: The Two Letters: Understanding Jacques Lacan’s Notion of Repetition Compulsion through a Comparative Reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Purloined Letter and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter
Authors: Roy, Soham
Keywords: Lacan
repetition compulsion
order of the symbolic
Issue Date: Feb-2021
Publisher: Vidyasagar University, Midnapore, West Bengal, India, 721102
Series/Report no.: Journal of the Department of English;Volume 14 (2021)
Abstract: My paper aims to explain Jacques Lacan’s notion of ‘repetition compulsion’ by exploring how this theory works at large within two different literary texts, namely The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Lacan himself used Poe’s text as a tool for explaining this concept. Taking cue from Lacan’s discourse, the paper seeks to examine the psychological underpinnings which help to understand the course of events within literature, as well as within the society, by positing Hawthorne’s text alongside Poe’s. Lacan elaborates his theory by showing how the unconscious works simultaneously with language through the order of the symbolic, which constantly shifts position with a corresponding displacement of a central signifier. The paper charts out two different patterns of this symbolic order, one, of a similar triadic structure existing within both the texts, and another linear pattern within Hawthorne’s text which explains a lack and the consequent unconscious desire of a subject for the concerned signifier.
ISSN: 09733671
Appears in Collections:Journal of the Department of English - Vol 14 [2021]

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