Mother Love: When Desire Becomes Reality

Sudhir Kakar and John Munder Ross

in Tales of Love, Sex, and Danger

Second edition

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780198072560
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199082124 | DOI:
Mother Love: When Desire Becomes Reality

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As a developmental phenomenon, the Oedipus complex is constructed of illusion and unidirectional desire. Compared to men, who either punish themselves or face retribution from those who govern their existence, transgressions and psychic turmoil by mothers are not easier to see. This chapter scrutinizes the motif of incestuous love between mothers and sons in its more oblique manifestations, the mythology of Phaedra and her stepson Hippolytus (dramatized in two ages—by the classical Greek Euripides and two thousand years later by the Jansenist Racine), and an Indian tale of incest often told by women to their daughters. If the pregenital seductions of parent and child, transpiring before consummation if possible, are disquieting enough, the genital tensions of adolescence are even more perilous.

Keywords: Oedipus complex; incest; mothers; sons; Phaedra; Hippolytus; Euripides; Racine; seductions

Chapter.  8726 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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