In The Time Of The Butterflies: Psychological Analysis

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Just as humans try to understand why other humans do what they do, readers try to understand why characters do what they do while reading a novel. Psychological Criticism, derived from Sigmund Freud’s theories of psychology, allows readers to understand character behaviors and events in terms of psychoanalytic concepts. Freud believed events in a person’s childhood influenced his or her unconscious, which in turn affects his or her behavior: the idea that “human beings are motivated, even driven, by desires, fears, needs, and conflicts of which they are unaware” (Brizee). Freud says “[...] repression doesn’t eliminate our painful experiences and emotions [...] we unconsciously behave in ways that will allow us to play out [...] our conflicted…show more content…
Mate is saddened to see the woman Papa was having an affair with and his other four daughters at his funeral. This heartbreaking event caused Mate to develop an indecisive behavior about intimacy. Meryn Callander, author of Why Dads Leave and After His Affair, says, “most children are badly hurt by a parent’s infidelity because, like the betrayed parent, they feel betrayed [...] [and] often react with intense feelings of [...] sadness and confusion. They may act out, regress, or withdraw” (Callander). Mate feels betrayed, saddened, and confused because of her father cheating on her mother. She exclaims her hate for men and questions, “[...] what does love come to, anyway? Look at Papa and Mama after so many years” (Alvarez 122). Mate has the opportunity to be with Raul and Berto, but she second guesses because she does not know if love is real and lasting. She does not want to be hurt like she saw her father hurt her mother. However, at the same time, she also romanticizes about men and wants to be swept off her feet and get married, which according to Dr. Nielsen is normal. She explains, “A poorly fathered daughter is often unaware of her tendencies because they are all she knows. She is often too clingy, dependent and jealous” (Nielsen). Mate’s clinginess is revealed when she romanticizes about men and obsesses over them. As she creates a perfect man in her head she says, “I keep hoping that someone special will come into my life soon. Someone who can ravish my heart with the flames of love” (Alvarez 126). Mate creates these fantasizes in her mind because part of her still believes love exists and she wants to experience it. When looking through a Psychoanalytic lens, Mate has an unconscious, indecisive behavior towards men which stems from her being heartbroken as a child because of her father cheating on
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