Sigmund Freud's The Uncanny

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In The Uncanny, Freud strongly emphasizes the study and beauty of the fearful and the terrifying. He elicits this subject as what is left behind of aesthetics. Aesthetics is the theory of quality of feeling, which essentially includes positive and negative feelings. However, this theory, in its existence, has neglected to include the uncanny, preferring to concentrate on beauty and, generally, on more positive emotions. In Freud’s essay, he glorifies the subject of the uncanny by examining and elaborating on the feelings evoked by anxiety and why they are crucial in the minds of individuals. Freud combines the stance of a literary critic and a psychoanalyst to achieve his goal in describing the intricacies of the uncanny and what it entails,…show more content…
He introduces Jentsch’s doubts in whether an apparently animate being is really alive; or conversely, whether a lifeless object might not be animate. The coinciding idea between these two is the uncanny, what is unfamiliar or what was once concealed and then brought to light. Freud reveals that “manifestations of insanity are induced because [impressions made by wax-work figures, artificial dolls, and automatons] excite in the spectator the feeling that automatic, mechanical processes are at work, concealed beneath the ordinary appearance of animation.” And thus, these feelings of confusion and insanity arise after a secret reveals itself, and heimlich becomes unheimlich. This concept occurs in the story The Sandman, in which Nathaniel, a young fellow with an anxious past, writes letters to his brother-in-law about his childhood’s fearful experience which he feels has returned to haunt him in the present. Freud references this fantasy fiction to remind readers that the main theme is not Olympia, the automaton and the idealization [of the mental illness] in Nathaniel’s eyes, but that the main theme is the Sandman who tears children’s eyes out and ultimately elicits Nathaniel’s fears. The feeling of something uncanny for Nathaniel and for the readers is attached to the horrid conceptualization of the Sandman which cannot be explained by Jentsch’s…show more content…
Similar to the Sandman, in our developing consciences, a symbol can take over the full function and the significance of what it symbolizes, manifesting as a fear, a morbid anxiety, or a repression in our minds. Conclusively, Freud ends his essay on the over-accentuation of psychical reality in comparison with physical reality, being closely allied to the belief in the omnipotence of thoughts and the power of manifestation of mental perception and identity. Freud leaves readers with a question of the uncanny and whether or not we have a familiar secret that has yet to be revealed to our developing
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