Psychoanalytic Approaches to Renaissance Literature

The classical Freudian scholars have been involved in applying some implicit assumptions of Freudian psychoanalysis to Renaissance literature, their “scene of analysis” is much more similar to the modernist “scene of writing” in that it centers on an image of isolated individuals.

They are involved in reading psyche of an author or text in isolation. Freudian theory is applied to the reading of the sixteenth or seventeenth century as in the late nineteenth and twentieth century. The older generations of Renaissance scholars are arguing that the Renaissance was powered in part, as it was traditionally in favor of universality and fixity; it was in against of psychic fragmentation.

But, the post Freudian psychoanalysis are challenging the old assumptions and arguing that psychic individuation has been always necessary for healthy functioning and emphasizing that psychic structure is essentially similar from one period to another. They do not see any proof in the traditional approach about psychic totality, as the psychic structure is similar from one period to another; it is obviously fragmented or divided.

While reading clinical psychoanalysis, critics are searching its relation with social institutions. Hein Kohut has suggested that different forms of psychopathology can be correlated with different forms of social organization and social malaise. Hein Kohut is arguing that psychosexual neurosis is in a broader sense the product of society and culture. Psychosexual or psychopathological behavior is more or less equivalent to the psycho-social behaviour.

Some critics are arguing that the period Renaissance or early modern developed as a vast laboratory for generating different forms of social organization and models of mind. Some feminist critics, such as Ferguson, Qulligan and others, are arguing that Renaissance/ early modern period regularly place emphasis on the “gender-coding” of psycho-social development. They saw the gender specific psychic work in the female ‘scenes of writing” as women’s writings have to accomplish with the cultural barrier, the cultural space differentiated by masculine society to women.

The agendas represented by different version of psychoanalytical interpretation can be placed comparatively with post- modernist agendas as both valorize the isolation, fragmentation and alienation of the individual.