Psychoanalytic Analysis: Inventing
Having close-read and annotated your primary text, the next phase of the writing process, inventing, requires you to gather the many observations your close-reading has produced and shape them into core ideas and themes. This is where you begin an exciting exploration of the text, bush-whacking your way through language and theories. One of the primary goals of inventing is to generate a main interpretation. The following strategies will help you begin generating significant ideas about a literary work.
- Create a list of interpretive questions about varying and important aspects of a work. Good interpretive questions are open-ended, not fact-based. They require deep thought and time. Interpretive questions ask why or what element of a literary work is important and involve references to devices and meanings (i.e. form and content).
- In Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," these interpretive questions could help springboard your analysis:
--What is motivating the character, either consciously or unconsciously?
--Do the characters' emotions provide a glimpse into their psychological states?
--Are characters confined to particular settings? How does this alter their thoughts or actions?
- Read through the annotations you made. Try to write out exactly what you think the author is saying and why it might be important to your interpretation.
- Look for correlations among significant quotes and your observations so you can try to categorize them.
- Writing a Discovery Draft will help you develop ideas and loosely organize your thoughts about the characters, settings, literary devices, and themes in a literary work. It is a cross between a journal and a first draft, and can be thought of as a free-writing, exploration. Indeed, it is a more coherent version of your journal entries synthesized together. A Discovery Draft is a very messy attempt at writing your analysis. It should not be considered a rough first draft but a means for logging your thoughts on paper.
Take a look at my Discovery Journal for "The Story of an Hour." I provide some important background about the author, narrow down a topic, note a beginning thesis, and question the protagonist's actions. This first "journal draft" helps organize my thoughts, providing a map for the rest of my paper.
In "The Story of an Hour," be aware of tropes. Tropes are the literary equivalent of stereotyping. Some typical female tropes include the virginal damsel-in-distress love interest, the manipulative slut, the shrewish nagging wife, and the selfless nurturing mother hen, but there are many more. If the characters seem one-dimensional or particularly defined by their relationship to male characters, then they are more than likely some type of patriarchal trope.