PJAS 16-7

Jacqueline Wiktoria Woroniec
We Have Always Lived in the Mind: The Freudian Topographic Model of the Mind as Depicted in Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962)
Polish Journal for American Studies, vol. 16 (2022), pp 93-102

Abstract: The literary setting of Shirley Jackson’s 1962 novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle is eerie, symbolic, and inextricably interconnected with the main characters of the book. The Blackwood family, haunted by its macabre past, is confined to its mansion, which is a manifestation of its dwellers’ troubled minds. The Blackwoods abide in a reciprocal influence with their house, the titular castle. The aim of this paper is to contribute to the discourse on Jackson’s work and to illustrate a symbolic rather than mimetic reading of the novel. The theory of psychoanalysis, and more specifically the concept of the Freudian topographic model of the mind, is used to characterize the novel’s setting and its foreground characters. The paper identifies the three focal characters with Freudian archetypes of id, ego, and superego, and uses the theory to further analyze the relationships between the characters to prove they are each ruled by one of the archetypes. Then, it places the characters within the plane of the Blackwood mansion to demonstrate the house’s psychological agency over its dwellers. This is achieved by comparing the mansion’s floors to the Freudian levels of consciousness. Such an interpretation not only compares the Blackwood family to a single entity, a shared mind, but also includes the house as an integral part of its manifestation.

Keywords: Shirley Jackson, psychoanalysis, literary studies, Gothic novel, topographic model of the mind

DOI: 10.7311/PJAS.16/2022.07

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