In Memory of Sigmund Freud: Summary and Analysis

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Introduction:

      Auden's poem In Memory of Sigmund Freud is an elegy. It was written in September 1939 to mourn the death of Sigmund Freud.

      An Elegy is a song of mourning. It expresses the grief of the poet over the death of some relative, friend or acquaintance or that of some prominent personality. Freud, the noted psycho-analyst had a great influence on Auden. His theories on sexual repression "Oedipus Complex" had a great impact on the entire contemporary word and it had a far-reaching influence too, In Memory of Sigmund Freud the special interest lies in Auden's use of Freudian ideas.

This poem reflects that W. H. Auden read Freud thoroughly. He celebrated his views in his poems. The poem under consideration is In Memory of Freud. The theory of Freud has radically changed the concept of sex. Freud undermined the traditional suppositions of the dominance of 'Free-Will' (Heavenly forces). We always stress that we are lived by unknown and uncontrollable forces in the Id.
In Memory of Sigmund Freud

Summary

      Freud is seen as the enemy of the Generalised Life; the 'monolith of state' and the co-operation of avengers. Auden believes that the influence of Freud on man and society counteracts some of the huge defects in our civilisation, this leads him to describe evil, which is not;

Deeds that must be punished
but our back of faith,
Our dishonest mood of denial,
The concupiscence of the aggressor.

      It is rather curious that Freudism usually regarded as atheistic, should encourage the moral terms - lack of faith, 'dishonest and concupiscence'.

      Optimistically Auden claims that Freud's pervading influence will help us all. Tired people have felt the change in their bones and are cheered, the anxious child feels calmer now and somehow assured of escape and in particular Freud would have us remembered most of all to be enthusiastic over the night, not only for the sense of wonder which it offers but also because it needs our love.

      This poem reflects that W. H. Auden read Freud thoroughly. He celebrated his views in his poems. The poem under consideration is In Memory of Freud. The theory of Freud has radically changed the concept of sex. Freud undermined the traditional suppositions of the dominance of 'Free-Will' (Heavenly forces). We always stress that we are lived by unknown and uncontrollable forces in the Id. In other words there is no psychological freedom. Auden was anti-Victorian and unconventional. So he is glorifying Freud as he has revolutionized the modern psychology and science. Victorian morality is prudent but the modern thought lays bare the subconscious mind very vividly and lucidly. The old generation has abhorrence for the views lurking in subconscious mind. Now sex is the predominating factor while in the Victorian age it was treated to be anti-social and anti-morality. This idea is quite parallel to the theory of economist. All his views shocked the older generation by making the sexual drive as a predominating factor. It was a great blow to religion when Freud attributed sexuality to infants. Religion is not significant when we grasp the theory formulated by Freud. His wonderful tribute paid to Freud on his death on 1939 is given below:

One rational voice is dumb over his grave
The household of impulse mourns one deeply loved.
Sad is Eros, builder of cities,
And weeping anarchic Aphrodite.

      The positive side to Freud's influence was the vast extension of charity, tolerance, sympathy, understanding and life-enhancement. Many of our future ills and troubles arise from such suppression early in life.

Critical Appreciation

      Auden is dealing with an important theme regarding the change of our social values propounded by these philosophers as Freud and Marx. Sometimes his language is not very lucid, ideas become very abstract. Any how we grasp his presentation of the views of Freud which has totally changed the English drama, novel, poetry and criticism. Now we have lost faith on heavenly forces preached by the Fathers of the Church, Modern civilization appears to be ugly when we analyse the internal of a human mind. According to Auden modern man is rejected because of his ideology.

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