Date of Award

5-2015

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

First Advisor

James Lilley

Second Advisor

Paul Stasi

Abstract

In The Plague of Fantasies, Slavoj Žižek charts the relationship between theoretical ideology, fantasy, and ideology in practice. While ideology roots itself firmly in our lives—it crafts our very reality according to Žižek—it is a paradoxically fragile and self-destructive system of interacting symbols. We consume and perpetuate fantasy in order to elucidate and internalize the laws of ideology by placing these symbols into dialogue with one another. In turn, fantasy often draws these laws to their conceptual edge, granting bodies and voices to the underlying fears and desires implied by these symbols. Edgar Allan Poe’s “Ligeia” and William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury employ the perspective of a problematically labeled “unreliable” narrator to embody the fears and desires surrounding the symbol of the ideal Southern lady within the context of the Southern United States. The reader is limited to the senses and perception of an unconventional narrator. In order to gain understanding of these narrative topographies, she must first seek to understand the difficult perspective of the seer. By reading beyond the unreliable perspective and recognizing the narrator as a consciously crafted part of the text, the reader can analyze the potential purpose of such a narrative technique. Consequentially, the narrator, in embodying the inner monologue of a subscriber to this given ideological system, provides the reader with a private, detached context in which to observe possible incongruence between symbols of ideology and the reality they represent. This, in turn, allows the reader to develop the skill of questioning and analyzing the implied ideological assumptions conveyed through this type of narrative, and recognizing it in the broader context of various historical moments, including her own.

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