Skip to main content Skip to navigation

The Unconscious


Read the short discussion of the fairy tale ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ from

Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment, available on the Strategies seminar page

(next to the link to this sheet).

Also read Terry Eagleton’s chapter on psychoanalysis on the library course

extracts page here:


1. Consider Bettelheim’s analysis of the fairy tale in the light of the

theories of the unconscious discussed in the lecture. How do you react

to his analysis? Do you find his interpretations convincing? Give your


2. Select one literary or filmic text (it can be a text we have looked at on

the course). Re-consider it in the light of theories and approaches

relating to the unconscious.

3. When credited with the ‘discovery’ of the unconscious, Freud is said to

have replied: 'The poets and philosophers before me discovered the

unconscious […] What I discovered was the scientific method by which

the unconscious can be studied.' What do you think Freud means?

Give an example from any text (poetry/philosophy/literature/film)

that illustrates Freud’s idea.

4. Construct an essay plan for ONE of the following titles making

reference to ONE OR MORE texts from the course:

  • To what extent has psychoanalysis provided us with useful models of critical reading practice?
  • In what sense(s) can a text be said to have an ‘unconscious’?