collective unconsciousmythic questuniversal archetypesfreud ’ H u m a n i t i e s

collective unconsciousmythic questuniversal archetypesfreud ’ H u m a n i t i e s

FULL Prompt available: Dec 14th

Due: Dec. 18th…

Prompt preview:

write a formal essay 750 to 850 word analysis in response to a prompt about the content and the meaning of Molloy by Samuel Beckett. To prepare for the exam essay, read the novel, read all the Module pages about the novel, including the following, and take part in the Discussion on the next page.

A significant departure from Beckett’s earlier work, Molloy tells a story that resists interpretation. The narrator even declares, “What a rabble in my head, what a gallery of moribunds […] Stories, stories. I have not been able to tell them. I shall not be able to tell this one.” Yet, a story is told, and it’s told in increasingly uncertain narratives that loop and wind up where they began, and in the process of the telling, a vision of life is created. Your job is to interpret that vision.

The exam will include a detailed essay prompt about the novel. However, it’s going to ask for a detailed and well-supported description of your personal perspective on the novel, however informed by class notes or The Cambridge Introduction. ( located in the screenshot below)

So be sure to consider the following questions and observations…

    • What do you think Molloy is saying about the human condition and human nature?
    • How would you describe Beckett’s vision of human experience?
    • The novel puts forward the idea that meaning, orderliness, and certainty are imaginary protective layers we use against the chaos and meaninglessness of the world, that it’s natural or human nature to seek a sense of order and meaning in our lives.
    • Molloy suggests that human experience strips these things (the protective layers) away, that it’s part of the human condition to seek these things and to lose them (the imaginary assurances) and, perhaps, to find a more authentic self.

Philosophical Considerations:

Existentialism versus Determinism (psychological v biological)

    • Are Molloy and Moran all of us, universal? Are we all fated to become like them?
    • Are Molloy and Moran examples of free will gone wrong? Is it avoidable?


    • Jung’s Collective Unconscious
      • Mythic Quest
      • Universal Archetypes
    • Freud’s Unconscious
      • Latent and Manifest Desires
      • Symbolism

Consider the Time Period:

Late Modernism: WWII/Post-WWII sensibilities / trauma / Beckett during the war…

    • Chooses to stay in France during war over returning to Ireland in peace
    • Joins the Red Cross so that he can return to Paris where he sees destruction firsthand
    • Joins the French Resistance with his wife, Suzanne, during Nazi occupation of Paris (doing translating for Allied Forces)
    • Is reported to Nazi authorities and narrowly escapes arrest
    • Spends the rest of the war in hiding in the French countryside, continuing work with the resistance (transporting arms).
    • The philosopher and literary theorist Theodor Adorno, who famously said, “There can be no poetry after Auschwitz,” favored Beckett’s bleak aesthetic as the only appropriate response to WWII.
    • Adorno also said, “Always with Beckett there is a technical reduction to the extreme. … But this reduction is really what the world makes out of us …that is what the world has made out of us these stumps of men … these men who have actually lost their I, who are really the products of the world in which we live.”
    • How does labeling the novel ‘postwar aesthetic’ help you make sense of Molloy‘s depiction of human experience?

You are NOT required to address all of these ideas, but you are required to consider them and to be thoughtful and informed in your interpretation of the novel. You are required to have a thoughtful interpretation and to address the ideas that are relevant to it. Develop your own opinion and then see what others think in the discussion on the following page…

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