THE POWER OF THE SYMBOLIC: LACAN’S PERVERSION AND THE SYMBOLIC ORDER IN IAN MCEWAN’S THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS
Keywords:character study, psychoanalysis, Ian McEwan, Lacan, symbolic order, perversion, literary studies
The aim of this paper is to examine and analyze the main characters in Ian McEwan’s novel The Comfort of Strangers(1981) in the light of the overarching theme of the novel, that is, how unconscious or conscious desires lead to violence and destruction. Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytic theory comprises the main theoretical framework of the paper. More specifically, his concepts of the symbolic order and clinical structure of perversion serve as an analytical tool for the analysis of characters. Therefore, the main hypothesis of the paper is that McEwan’s characters, the problems of sexual violence and unrecognized desires can be analyzed and explained through Lacan’s theory of perversion and symbolic order. What Lacan’s theory illuminates in the context of the novel is that characters’ unconscious motivations and drives formed during their earliest experiences, if left unrecognized and unaddressed, lead to violence and destruction.