Department of English
Master of Arts
The psychological construction of Robert Penn Warren's characters is an established tenet among Warren critics as is the influence of Sigmund Freud's work upon Warren's fiction. Specifically the oedipal nature of Warren's male characters has been widely discussed especially in regard to plots culminating in patricide. Based upon this criticism of Robert Penn Warren's novels to date, Warren's female characters are revealed to be developed likewise upon an oedipal paradigm. The female paradigm which corresponds to Freud's Oedipus complex in women is the Cinderella tale. These stories, some at least a thousand years old, were critically divided into three main types by Marian Roalfe Cox a century ago. These three archetypes as well as the writings of Sigmund Freud were a part of the intellectual climate from which Warren as artist drew. The eleven females in Warren's ten novels that are developed sufficiently for study—given physical, emotional, and psychological construction—correspond to the three Cinderella archetypes. As such this reading offers a new understanding of Warren's fictional women by revealing them not as aberrations of "normal" women but simply as types of women first revealed to us in our earliest childhood tales.
Creative Writing | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, North America
Brent, Martha, "Female Characterization in the Novels of Robert Penn Warren: Variations on a Cinderella Theme" (1995). Masters Theses & Specialist Projects. Paper 932.