A Psychoanalysis Reading of Mary Turner’s Character in Lessing’s The Grass is Singing

AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 4, Number4. October   2020                                Pp. 151-176
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24093/awejtls/vol4no4.11

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A Psychoanalysis Reading of Mary Turner’s Character in Lessing’s The Grass is Singing 

Sofian Herouach
English Department
Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences
Dhar El Mehraz, Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdullah University
Fes, Morocco



Lessing’s work The Grass is singing sheds significant light on several socio-cultural, political, gender, feminist and psychological issues. Racism is probably one of the most important themes of the work. However, the psychological dimension of this novel is also predominant. This aspect is embodied mainly through the protagonist, Mary Turner. Mary’s troubled experiences and unconscious accumulations cause her much suffering and pain in her adult life. The present study is an attempt to investigate the character of Mary from a psychoanalytic perspective. It aims to shed light on the variables that overlap during Mary’s successive life stages to end up in her being murdered. In other words, the study analyses how the accumulated experiences of Mary’s childhood past, reinforced by present hardships, led her to develop psychological complexes and act upon them to end in her tragic death. This study is important in the sense that it may help explaining numerous psychological disorders by referring them to childhood events and socio-cultural factors. In other words, the present study builds on the following question: to what extent childhood events and socio-cultural troubles could lead to psychological traumas and disorders? Briefly, the study findings proved that Mary’s traumatic childhood and its unconscious painful memories were determinant factors to manifest character aberrations like hatred and aggressiveness. Moreover, the study concludes that Mary’s subsequent socio-cultural pressures intensified her psychological reactions until coincided with the avenging character, Moses who murders her.
Keywords: childhood, Mary Turner, psychology, psychoanalysis criticism, sexuality, the unconscious, the grass is singing, transference

Cite as:  Herouach, S.  (2020). A Psychoanalysis Reading of Mary Turner’s Character in Lessing’s The Grass is Singing. Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 4 (4) 151-176.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24093/awejtls/vol4no4.11  

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