[Included with permission of the author from Terence Drawson, "Jung, Literature, and Literary Criticism" in The Cambridge Campnaion to Jung, eds. Polly Young-Eisendrath and Terrence Dawson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. Pp. 255-80.]

Decorative Initial A Jungian psychological interpretation of a literary text rests on the relation between its events and the character who can best be described as the "primary carrier" of the author's unconscious personality. It cannot however be assumed that such a character in a novel functions in the same way as the "dream-ego" in a dream. . . . I define the "primary carrier" of the author's unconscious personality in a narrative fiction as the effective protagonist.

In order to identify the effective protagonist of a novel, one needs (1) to compare the situation at the outset of the work with the situation at its conclusion and (2) to ask which of the characters is most radically changed by the events described. If this is the obvious hero, there may be no need to enquire any further. But very often one finds that another character -- and this might indeed be an apparently minor character -- undergoes an even more significant change. If all the events of the novel can be convincingly related to this apparently less central character, then he or she will be its effective protagonist. To inquire into the possible psychological implications of a literary text is to consider its "surface structure" (i.e. the story told) as a projected representation of a "deep structure." I understand the deep structure to mean the events described in the surface structure when viewed in relation to the effective protagonist. My aim is to explore and test two claims:

(1) that the events described in the "surface structure" of a novel offer a projected representation of a dilemma confronting the effective protagonist at the outset, and

(2) that the events of a narrative fiction describe how this character deals with the challenge implicit in this dilemma.

In other words, my contention is that a novel is both conditioned by, and also offers a projected representation of an implicit challenge facing the effective protagonist throughout the events. [256-257]

[As a test of his hypothesis Dawson applies it to Samuel Richardson's Pamela, convincingly demonstrating that it is Mr. B., and not the consistently virtuous and consistently static heroine, who experiences most change and therefore who functions as the effective protagonist. Can you think of Victorian works in which the effective protagonist is not the main character?]

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Last modified 7 September 2007