A Critical Analysis of the Psychoanalytical Insights in Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee
The aim of this paper is to unravel what the novel Waiting for the Barbarians (J.M. Coetzee, 1982) is saying about the human psyche and how the psychoanalytical theory can be applied to reveal the characters and their actions presented in it. The novel raises the issues about morality and violence; and challenges humanity and imperialism in several ways. Presenting a psychoanalytic discussion of Waiting for the Barbarians this study focuses on the impact of fear in human psyche. An attempt is made, in this essay, to understand – 1) How far fear and anxiety can affect human life; 2) How far unconscious has its influence on our actions; 3) How far repressed emotions in unconscious seek outlet to our conscious and enter into dreams in disguise; 4) How sexual instincts control our actions; 5) What is the significance of Phallic symbols presented in the novel; 6) How the theory of dream work can be applied to understand real events and desires of a person.
As we know human psychology is a complex phenomenon. Freudian theory provides great deal to understand it through its key concepts like – conscious and unconscious parts of human psyche, repression and sublimation, libido, defense mechanisms, screen memory, dream work etc. A few of these concepts are used for interpreting the characters and their actions, events and their meaning, symbols and their significance in Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians.
The story is set in a small frontier town under the jurisdiction of a political entity known as "the Empire". The town's magistrate is the story's protagonist and first-person narrator. He has a hobby of excavating the ancient skeletons and ruins. His existence in the town is rather peaceful. He is responsible to maintain law and order in the town. But his authority comes to an end with the declaration of a state of emergency and arrival of the Third Bureau, Special...