1.1 Significance of this Research
The psychological growth of individuals is vital and the construction of subject hasprofound significance to mental growth of individuals.This thesis intends to trace thegrowth of protagonist Sandy from the perspective of initiation theme and Lacan’s“Mirror Stage”and“Three Orders”theory to analyze her inner contradictions inconstructing her subject.It tries to reflect the theme of psychological growth ofprotagonist’s transformation:from innocence,temptation,confusion,struggle toepiphany and the realization of true ego.By exploring the construction of subjectidentity to reveal psychological growth of individuals is vital to our modern society.
1.1 Significance of this ResearchThe psychological growth of individuals is vital and the construction of subject hasprofound significance to mental growth of individuals.This thesis intends to trace thegrowth of protagonist Sandy from the perspective of initiation theme and Lacan’s“Mirror Stage”and“Three Orders”theory to analyze her inner contradictions inconstructing her subject.It tries to reflect the theme of psychological growth ofprotagonist’s transformation:from innocence,temptation,confusion,struggle toepiphany and the realization of true ego.By exploring the construction of subjectidentity to reveal psychological growth of individuals is vital to our modern society. Sandy’s psychological growth to dig deep into the psychological growth of modernpeople,which has an enlightenment to life,human value and society.
1.2 Structure of this Thesis
The thesis is composed of six parts.
Chapter One is the introduction of the significance and structure of the thesis.Chapter Two is the literature review,which gives a summary of the researches fromdifferent angles on the novel at home and abroad.It also presents the writer MurielSpark’s personal experience and her novels.Besides,this chapter as well concludes thetheory,which the thesis is based on.That is the Initiation Story,The Mirror Stage andThree Orders Theory.
Chapter Three analyzes in the first stage,the illusion of the subject forms,that is inimaginary order.It illustrates the innocence of the initial stage of the protagonist Sandyand her confusion of the existence.
In Chapter Four,the thesis reveals the second stage of the subject establishment inthe Symbolic Order.The defiance of Sandy and the termination of control from herteacher reflects the youth’s epiphany of growth.Moreover,the self-recognition ofindividual including the pursuit of true ego and the establishment of self-identity ismainly introduced in this part.
Chapter Five portrays Sandy’s new loss and the insight of her adult life.It depictsthe truth of her subject in the Real Order.This part reveals the enlightening growthprocess and the life meaning to our modern mankind.
Chapter Six concludes the significance of the research,and discusses the limitationand suggestions for further studies.
Chapter TwoLITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 An Introduction to Lacan’s Mirror Stage and Three Orders Theoryand Initiation Story
Jacques Lacan(1901-1981)was the most influential French psychoanalyst andpsychiatrist since Freud,with international fame in the 20th century.In the 1930s,Lacan develops the early“Mirror Stage”theory.In 1953,Lacan begins to hold private“seminars”and declares to be a“Return to Freud”.Lacan founded the most influentialschool,the SociétéFrançaise de Psychanalyse,after Freud’s psychoanalysis.Histhoughts have a vital effect on 20th century French philosophy,post-structuralism andcritical theory.
Through the development of Lacan’s thoughts,besides Freud’s psychoanalysis,Lacan forges his concept of signifier from Saussure,the dialectics of desire from Hegel,theory of unconsciousness and symbolism from Levi Strauss and Marcel Mauss.Lacancreatively combines the inspiration of these fields with the psychoanalysis by Freud toform Lacanian psychoanalysis(Ma 9).In 1936,Lacan first puts forward the idea of “Mirror Stage”,which is the central argument of Lacan about the initial stage of thesubject psychology and meanwhile the foundation of his whole theory.Lacan constantlyimproves his theoretical system and pushes psychoanalysis into Postmodernist stage(Huang 8-10).
2.2 Introduction to Muriel Spark and Her Work
Muriel Spark(1918-2006)is a distinguished British writer.Her work is short butrich in connotation.Spark’s characters are vivid and unique.She digs deep into thetheme of modern people’s psychological growth and has an acute insight into the plight of human existence and inspires modern life.Spark devotes her life to writing.Herworks cover a wide range including novels,poetry,literary reviews and biographies.(Wang 255)The novels include:The Comforter,Robinson(1958),The Prime of MissJean Brodie(1961),The Driver’s Seat(1970),Reality and Dream(1996),Aiding andAbetting(2000).She has won numerous awards,the Christmas Short Story Award,theTS Eliot Award,the Cohen Prize in English Literature and so on.She was twiceshortlisted for the Booker Prize and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is particularlyacclaimed.The Modern Library ranked it No.76 of the best novels of the 20th century.
Whether in theme or narrative method,her novel has distinct characteristics.Herwriting style is concise and direct.“The place,time and character of the novel changesfrom time to time,sometimes just in one paragraph,the time have passed for years”(Wang 255)and the distance extends to thousands of kilometers away.Her humorousnarrative style,keen observation and novelty fascinate readers.With unique humor,itreveals another important feature of her style:the harsh coldness.In her novels,death isalways carried with slight apathetic,even little cruelty.
Chapter Three SANDY’S SUBJECT ILLUSION IN THE IMAGINARY ORDER..................17
3.1 Innocence of Initial Stage of Growth...........................18
3.1.1 Conformity of Sandy.............................18
3.1.2 Temptation of Miss Brodie........................20
Chapter Four SANDY’S SUBJECT CONSTRUCTION IN THE SYMBOLIC ORDER.........29
4.1 Growth Epiphany of Sandy’s Struggle.................................30
4.1.1 Sandy’s defiance to Miss Brodie’s dominance..........................30
4.1.2 Termination of control from Miss Brodie......................34
Chapter Five THE TRUTH OF SANDY’S SUBJECT IN TEH REAL ORDER........................42
5.1 Sandy’s New Loss in Adult World..................................42
5.1.1 Lasting influence of Miss Brodie..........................43
5.1.2 New dilemma of Sandy..............................46
Chapter FiveTHE TRUTH OF SANDY’S SUBJECT IN TEH REAL ORDER
5.1 Sandy’s New Loss in Adult World
After experiencing the confusion and struggle in the Symbolic stage,Sandy eventually realizes herself and goes into Real Order.The girl seems to have completedher subjectivity but she still has new loss and predicaments in life.The effect of thisstage in her true life appears from time to time like a ghost entangling Sandy.Hergrowth experience is so authentic to real life,as she undergoes the plight and confusionalike that of people now.The German critic Friedrich von Blanckenburg depicts theterm“Initation Story”in his Essay on the Novel:
“The protagonist is no longer a morally perfect hero,but a flesh and blood in reallife.He has shortcomings and weaknesses,but also internal qualifications and gifts.Heis open to the external world and constantly gains life experience from it.Theseexperiences are fed back to his inner soul and make him reflect himself and the world.”(Gu 34)
Sandy is such a flesh and blood character,who has internal qualifications andconstantly gains life experience from her growth.Meanwhile,she has weakness and notprefect.Sandy returns to real life,when faced with a new dilemma,she has a deep senseof confusion and powerlessness.As an adult,Sandy does not see life clearly and MissBrodie’s lasting influence on her.Meanwhile as a respected nun,when receivingvisitors,she always feels uneasy and finds that there are even more fascists in theCatholic church.In a new environment,Sandy finds that she has entered another lifedilemma.
Muriel Spark as a distinguished British female writer,her works are full ofconnotation and enlightenment.The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie reveals her profoundinsight into the dilemma of human existence and her inspiration to modern people.WithLacanian subject theory to interpret Sandy’s psychological growth theme can providereaders a unique angle to appreciate the novel.
The novel shapes distinct female images like insightful Sandy,autocratic whilecharming Miss Brodie,focuses on female growth to reveal the delicate emotion andchange of women psychology.For man,growth is an important stage of life,whichmeanwhile is a mirror of the age and society.The psychological growth of teenagers isvital,and the construction of subject identity is of great significance to the psychologyof individuals.The thesis intends to trace the growth process of protagonist Sandy fromthe perspective of Initiation Story and Lacan’s“Mirror Stage”and“Three Orders”theory,analyzing the inner contradiction of the subject construction.It tries to explorethe theme of psychological growth from the protagonist’s transformation:frominnocence,confusion,struggle to epiphany to the realization of true ego and the finalgrowing up.
Sandy’s mental journey of growth from innocence to perplexity,struggle andrealization,it clearly reveals the three stages of subject construction:subjective illusionin the Imaginary Order;subject construction under the influence of the Other in theSymbolic Order;the truth of subject construction in the Real Order.In the novel,theteacher plays a guide role in protagonist Sandy’s initial stage of growth.Under theinfluence of her teacher-the other,Sandy constructs an illusory and submissive innocent image.Sandy obeys all the requirements from Miss Brodie and becomes her compliantgood student.Such Sandy is completely an illusion built in the Imaginary Order.It isnot her real subject but a mirror image under the effect of the other.Without a real ego,Sandy feels confused and at a loss.Sandy begins to introspect herself and she wants torebel.She passes through the Imaginary stage,breaks the illusory image and entersSymbolic Order,to pursue her true ego and construct her real subject.