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A Psychological Analysis of Alice Walker’s Everyday Use

A Psychological Analysis of Alice Walker’s Everyday Use

The human mind is divided into three parts that make up the mind as a whole. These parts are necessary to have a complete mind, just as the members of a family are needed to make up the entire family. The use of components to equal a whole is often exercised in literature. Alice Walker’s short story, “Everyday Use,” contains the idea of family and of the mind, therefore her work can be evaluated through psychological methods. Through their actions, the characters symbolize the three different parts of the mind: the id, the ego, and the superego.

The first type of mind division, the id, “constantly strives to satisfy basic drives…[and] seeks immediate gratification” (Myers 379). In “Everyday Use,” Dee’s personality is equivalent to the id because she seeks her own personal gain and does not necessarily consider the consequences of her actions. Mama, the narrator in “Everyday Use,” says that “Dee wanted nice things. She was determined to stare down any disaster in her efforts” (Walker 92). Dee strives for satisfaction in all she does; she will do everything in her power to get what she desires. The story recounts a situation in which Dee wants some quilts that were stiched by her grandmother, but Mama has already promised these treasures to Dee’s sister, Maggie. Mama said that as she “[moved] up to touch the quilts. Dee moved back just enough so that [Mama] couldn’t reach the quilts. They already belonged to [Dee]” (Walker 96). Mama explains that Dee is determined to gain possession of the quilts. Although the quilts belong to her mother, Dee has already mentally determined that the quilts belong to her. Dee’s personality is comparable to the id branch of the…

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…The use of psychological strategies in the Walker’s work shows that the characters are joined and create one unit, a family.

Works Cited

Alice Malsenior Walker: An Annotated Bibliography, 1968-1986. Eds. Louis H. Pratt and Donnell D. Pratt. Connecticut: Meckler Corporation, 1988.

Everyday Use: Alice Walker. Ed. Barbara T. Christian. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1994.

Myers, David G. Exploring Psychology. Third edition. New York: Worth Publishing, 1996.

Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Sixth edition. Eds. X.J. Dennedy and Dana Gioia. New York: Harper Collins, 1995.

Iago’s Scheming in Shakespeare’s Othello

Iago’s Scheming in Othello

Iago is a powerful predator who exploits those around him by infecting their perceptions of truth with carefully chosen fallacy. His skill in finding the proverbial chinks in others’ armor allows him to skillfully weave his machinations of destroying Othello into their minds and actions; by manipulating character’s perceptions of Desdemona, Iago gains the leverage he needs to exploit each character. No one is impervious to Iago’s seething purpose; even Othello falls prey to Iago’s suggestions and insinuations about Desdemona. Iago’s constant presence as the stager, as well as his ceaseless – but subtle – reinforcement of events through narration, allows him to be the pivotal force that directs Shakespeare’s Othello.

In the opening scene, Iago provokes Brabantio against Othello by means of his pawn, Roderigo, and constantly stages the scene, ensuring that everything goes according to his plan. Iago realizes that Brabantio is very susceptible to attacks on his daughter; Iago uses Roderigo as a dummy, through whom he makes such antagonizing claims: “An old black ram / is tupping your white ewe” and “your daughter and the Moor are now / making the beast with two backs” (1.1.90, 121). By inflaming Brabantio’s protective nature as a father, Iago directs Brabantio’s wrath towards Othello while using Roderigo as a front. Iago successfully bends an unwitting Brabantio to the common goal of destroying Othello.

The climax of Iago’s power occurs during Iago’s successful attempts to convince Othello – against the poor Moor’s better judgment – that Desdemona fails to be loyal and that Othello differs too greatly from his fellow citizens to be a part of the Venetianworld. Iago craftily inflames Othel…

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… that Iago felt compelled to engineer to perfection and totality; and once Iago’s plan falls short of his mark, his pawns grow out of his control and finally expose his dark scheming.

Fragility permeates Iago’s liminal existence and, as shown, he has to be omnipresent in order to execute and oversee every aspect of his plan. His ambition leads to his downfall; modest desires for revenge blossom into extravagant and uncontrollable machinations which necessitate the deaths of all those involved. Iago finds it impossible to manipulate everyone at every moment, and for this sole reason, fails to bring his plan into full fruition.

Work Cited

William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice (from Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama, sixth edition. Ed. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. New York: Harper Collins, 1995.

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