Energy injected by the sounds from the extra-symbolic in D.H. Lawrence’s “The Last Laugh”

D.H. Lawrence's "The Last Laugh" tells the story of two neurotic characters; Miss James, an hysteric whose position is characterized by a fundamental disgust to sexuality and whose deafness stands for her deafness to the demands of the patriarchal culture; and Marchbancks, an obsessive who is, on the contrary, captivated by jouissance. On a 4 snowy night they hear strange sounds and see strange visions. Despite their different positions to sexuality, these strange visual and auditory images work on them (but differently): The following morning Miss James starts to hear, which stands for a new position in the symbolic register, and Marchbancks dies. The text is highly rich in implications, thus, multilayered; therefore, a thematic reading of it fails to tease out the wider implications of Miss James's deafness and the significance of the strange sounds and her response to them. Focusing on only Miss James, I argue that the significance of her deafness and these sounds in this polyphonic text open itself out when it is read from a counter-Lacanian perspective. These strange sounds can be taken as resonances coming from the imaginary real in Lacanian terms. They lead her to a new space of signification, thus, "cure" her by injecting her a new kind of psychic energy. In this paper, I aim to come up with a counter-Lacanian reading of the text: borrowing terminology from Lacan but employing his concepts to decipher the de-phallologocentric feminine space of signification at the heart of the symbolic created by Miss James.
Citation Formats
N. Birlik, “Energy injected by the sounds from the extra-symbolic in D.H. Lawrence’s “The Last Laugh”,” Vienna, Avusturya, 2019, p. 3, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: