This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

20th Century Feminism: A Jungian Exploration of The Feminine Self




Snellgrove, Christopher

Type of Degree





The following work uses the theories and methods provided by Carl Jung as a way of analyzing works by three women authors: Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The primary Jungian notion featured is that of self-actualization—the process by which a person has achieved a sense of wholeness uniting their body and mind to the greater world. Specifically, I examine how the protagonists and antagonists of these texts either complete their Jungian journey towards actualized wholeness. In order to do this, I focus greatly on Jung’s notion of archetypes, and how they either help or hinder the journey that these women are on. A large part of the analysis centers on how actualization might be defined in feminine terms, by women living in a world of patriarchal control. As such, this work continues the endeavors of other Post-Jungians to “rescue” Jung from his own patriarchal leanings, using his otherwise egalitarian theories as a way of critiquing patriarchy and envisioning sexual equality. Jung, then, becomes an interesting bridge between first, second, and third-wave feminism, as well as a bridge between modernism and post-modernism. By analyzing these disparate female authors (divided by time, nationality, and race), it is my hope to provide a framework by which future feminist fiction and scholarship can be better understood within the context of eternal feminine archetypes.