Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (iv, 76 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Charles Shepherdson

Committee Members

Kir Kuiken


Fairy tales, Feminine Sexuality, Freud, Lacan, Oedipus complex, Femininity in literature, Sex role

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


This thesis argues against the interpretations of Sigmund Freud's Oedipus complex and Jacques Lacan's graph of sexuation as either misogynistic or anti-woman. The Oedipus complex has often been considered and taught as an explanation for binary sexual difference and heterosexual identity. This thesis will dispute such considerations through re-reading Freud himself among other literary scholars. Thus, the critiques that treat the complex as hetero-normative and homogeneous will be disproved. Additionally, psychoanalysts and academic critics alike accuse Lacan of a phallocentric framework. Because of this phallocentrism, Lacan is doubly accused of misogyny and patriarchy. Through reading his work on feminine sexuality, this thesis will explore the meaning of phallocentrism and explain how it is not patriarchal. Finally, as I propose to read both theories as literary rather than historical, I will trace each theory through a fairy tale and an adaptation of the tale to show that these theories are not era-specific. Instead, they can continue to enlighten readers and analysts as society changes.