Oedipal Allen

This past week we have concentrated on Philip Roth’s, Portnoy’s Complaint, and Sigmund Freud’s, Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious. Freud’s analysis of the unconscious mind allows us to further understand  Philip Roth’s protagonist, Alex, in Portnoy’s Complaint and Woody Allen’s protagonist, Allen, in Play it Again, Sam.

Why would a child going through the Oedipal stage look up to his father? Every kid wants to do away with dad, but also be similar to him. Mom desires dad, so the son wants to know why she does, and therefore wants to imitate him.  The child wants to identify with the dad, so he can be one with the mom. Once the desire to be one with the mom is repressed, the Oedipal complex is resolved. Through the resolve of the Oedipus complex, you give birth to your unconscious, which is the house of repression. These unconscious desires manifest itself according to society. 

“Who is more Mommy’s good little boy? Who is the best boy a mommy ever had? Who does Mommy love more than anything in the whole wide world?” (Portnoy, 45) In Alex’s case, he has not yet resolved his Oedipal complex due to the constant domineering personality of his mother.  Alex is stuck in a repressive state of adulthood. The son desires to stay with the mother, because the mom doesn’t allow him to get past the oedipal complex.

Freudian psychoanalytic literature is part of Jewish literature. Just like Roth uses the Freudian Theory in his novel, Woody Allen falls back to psychoanalysis and Freudian theory as well with use of his auteur style. 

In Woody Allen’s, Play it Again, Sam, Allen is depressed after his wife, Nancy, leaves him because of, “Insufficient laughter.”  h He was able to offer her a home, affection and security , but not a life full of adventure and spontaneity.  The whole subject of divorce is traumatic. Allen tries to go on his first date in this movie clip. He downgrades himself when he talks and says, ” What’s the mater with me. Why aren’t I cool?” He is too negative and is clearly not able to forget Nancy.  He tries so hard to be somebody else to impress his “blind date”, that he makes a fool of himself. 

Allen’s best friend’s wife also has repressed thoughts of her own parent’s divorce. If I were Freud, I would analyze her character in the story as well. She constantly gives advice to Allen, but she’s in a dysfunctional marriage herself. She tells her husband, ” I guess I never got over my parent’s divorce.” He pays little attention to her thoughts, due to his constant obsession with work. 

There was a Jewish reference when Allen says, ” We’re divorced two weeks and she’s dating a Nazi.” Allen refers to Nancy’s new hypothetical boyfriend as a “Nazi.” I found this funny and interesting, due to his Jewish background. The Jewish race has repressed memories towards the Germans. Allen therefore connects his misery over Nancy leaving him, with the thought of her being with the one thing he unconsciously despises, a Nazi. 


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