Thesis

Masculine Trauma in William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury

This thesis applies Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory of trauma to William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. Chapter One of this thesis discusses Freud's theory of archaic heritage, which argues that a trauma can be passed down from one generation to the next through subconscious attitudes and behaviors. I argue that for white Southern men, the loss of the Civil War and its subsequent challenge to pre-Civil War notions of masculinity represents a trauma great enough to be passed from one generation to the next. I apply this concept of inherited trauma to the interactions between the Compson brothers and their father in which their father passes on his region's trauma. Chapter Two of this thesis explores Freud's theory of individual trauma, in which he argues that trauma is the result of a person’s inability to react fully when he or she experiences an event that causes harm, fear, or shame. I apply this theory to each of the Compson brothers, exploring how trauma manifests differently in each brother as he attempts to fulfill a masculine gender expectation by regaining control over himself and others.

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