Psychological criticism is an approach in analyzing literary texts through the use of psychological concepts especially the human desires and feelings that a person is unaware of. The text is analyzed and understood together with the possible responses of the reader as well as the author of the text. Psychological criticism basically begins with trying to understand the author’s psychological conflicts as revealed in the literary piece.
Characters in the story are also analyzed in terms of putting them into real-life situations. Lastly, psychological criticism also seeks to know the appeal of the literary piece to its readers and the ability of the readers to identify their personal desires and fears in life. In the poem “Piano,” author D. H. Lawrence appears to write about the childhood love of the narrator towards his mother.
This adoration for the mother reflects Sigmund Freud’s theory about the psychosexual development of human beings, specifically the stage where the male child suffers from what Freud calls the “Oedipus complex”—male little children having incestuous desires for their mothers. The narrator’s act of recalling memories also brings to mind the idea in psychology that life experiences that touch people the most are most likely to be retained in our memory.
The poem suggests that the narrator simply cannot forget his childhood experience of listening to his mother play the piano because it is an unforgettable and touching experience for the narrator. Psychological criticism allows for a careful analysis of literary texts through the use of concepts in psychology. It basically attempts to get a more comprehensive understanding of texts as far as the readers, authors and the literary pieces themselves are concerned. All in all, the human unconscious plays an important role in psychological criticism.