عنوان مقاله [English]
Popular romantic novels, as a cultural medium, have, for many years, been producing and reproducing gender ideology. Neglecting these kinds of works results in their withdrawal from serious critical studies; whereas creating awareness in the audience requires scientific critique. Examining and analyzing such works is quite important because of the high sales and their attraction to teenagers and the young audience. Interdisciplinary studies, including Lacanian psychoanalysis, are one of the most effective approaches in this regard. This paper is focused on the Lacanian theory of the process of psychological growth through the stages of the real, the imaginary, and the symbolic to analyze M. Moaddabpour’s popular romantic novel, Parichehr. The research process suggests that by depicting the patriarchal discourse, this popular novel represents the Lacanian imaginary stage and plays a role by addressing the object of desire to construct the reader’s ego (the ideal ‘I’).
In the second half of the 20th century, with the emergence of terms such as "high/low" and "elite/popular" in discussions on literature, new attitudes toward the novel and cultural studies developed. The founders of the Frankfurt School, while introducing the concept of culture industry, mostly disapproved of popular art. Followers of the Birmingham School, unlike those of the elitist tradition, argued that elite culture is only one aspect of culture and the study of culture should include the popular culture of the masses as well. Research on popular literature constitutes an important part of cultural analysis. The Lacanian approach to subjectivity, especially how feminine subjectivity is constructed in some specific realms and through specific media, can be relevant to our study.
2. Theoretical Framework
Lacan’s post-structuralist criticism, unlike classical psychoanalytical criticism, focuses on the reader, text and language. In his theory of human mental development, Lacan speaks of the real, the imaginary and the symbolic. At the beginning of life infants see no distinction between themselves and their mothers, a stage Lacan refers to as the real. From six to eighteen months the child develops an integrated image of himself and thus enters the mirror stage (the imaginary order) and develops an imaginary picture of himself called "ego", which is distinct from that of his mother. The subject is formed when the child enters the world of language and symbolic order and is confronted with a change of signifiers and also the unconscious.
A psychoanalytical analysis of the text and the audience of popular novels can be of great help in studying this kind of novel and its audience. This study relies on the content analysis method and employs the descriptive-analytical approach in its Lacanian reading of Parichehr.
Using different narrative techniques, this novel creates an ideal image of the beloved based on patriarchal ideology. Based on the Hegelian master-slave dialectic, the fundamental desire driving humans is the desire to accept. Ego-ideal can be regarded as the master and the real self as the slave.
Teenage and young girls turn to the popular genre of romance to find their perfect image. The novel Parichehr, which corresponds to the Lacanian mirror stage, represents the imaginary stage and, with its structural features, depicts the ego-ideal. The ideal image of the female character in the novel, as the mirror image, provides the possibility of narcissistic identification for the subject/audience, and their ego is formed in an imaginary way. The subjects, with the illusion of accessing the little other, feel secure in the linear mother-child relationship, take refuge in the imaginary order stage and do not feel the need to enter the symbolic order. This image, which is based on the patriarchal ideology, absorbs the subject/audience in a way that they unconsciously follow it as their ideal model.