Psychoanalytical Lens In Willa Cather's My Antonia

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Was Willa Cather’s widely recognized novel, My Antonia, titled after the wrong character? Jim concludes his memoir stating that Antonia “still had that something which fires the imagination.... All the strong things of her heart came out in her body.... She was a rich mine of life, like the founders of early races” which seemingly proves that Antonia is Jim’s soul inspiration, the heroine of the novel (Cather 211). However, if this is the case, why would Jim ostensibly forget her for a whole chapter to fixate on a different character? Antonia also never seems to meet Jim’s expectations, for it is Lena that makes an appearance in Jim's subconscious, not Antonia. Although Jim may be unaware, the Psychoanalytical Lens helps explain why in the…show more content…
In book two Jim describes a dream that he had of Lena coming to him “across the stubble barefoot, in a short skirt, with a curved reaping-hook in her hand, and she was flushed like the dawn, with a kind of luminous rosiness all about her” (135-136). He goes on to wish that he could have this dream about Antonia, but is unable to. As explained in an article about the psychoanalytic theory by Saul McLeod, a Psychology Tutor at The University of Manchester, dreams portray what feelings lay in the subconscious. Jim's inability to have this dream about Antonia shows that though Jim may be unaware, his true feelings are for Lena. When taking a psychoanalytical approach to My Antonia, it becomes apparent that Lena Lingard is the central female character. Throughout Jim’s maturation, Lena becomes the focus and idealization for Jim and manifests into his subconscious. Ultimately, Antonia is not Jim’s sole inspiration. According to Kim Wells the author of the paper, Hired Girls and Country Doctors: Working Women in the Domestic Fiction of Sarah Orne Jewett and Willa Cather, Lena is “Jim’s Muse, allowing him deeper insight into the poetry of Virgil just by virtue of her appearance in his room for a short visit”
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