The Shattering Symmetries between the Imaginary and the Symbolic in Carter's The Magic Toyshop

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2021-01-01
The Magic Toyshop tells the story of three siblings (Melanie, Jonathan and Victoria) and what they go through in Uncle Philip's house, where they find themselves in a totally different psychic space which is characterised by the resonances of the imaginary and in which images function differently. Among these images, animal imagery is central to Melanie's depiction of both the inhabitants of the house and the house itself. Through its emphasis on the images, along with the hard facts of life, the novel gives expression to the psychodynamics and the evolution (or lack of it) of the characters, and offers a context which attracts attention to the difference between the symbolic and the imaginary; also between the symbolic and the social, in Lacanian terms. Due to their foregrounded awareness of the imaginary dimension of material reality and Melanie's role in transposing Finn to a union in which the symbolic codes prevail, the ending of the novel implies that rather than the traditional hierarchy of the patriarchal discourse, there will be another kind of relationship between Finn and Melanie. This essay aims to bring up a new hermeneutical frame about the novel through the discussion of the significance of their move from the symbolic to the imaginary, how they relate to material reality through images in Philip's house, and how Melanie (with Finn) moves back to the symbolic, against the background of Lacanian ideas about the three registers, the logic of the signifiers, the imaginary father and 'object little a'.
LITERA-JOURNAL OF LANGUAGE LITERATURE AND CULTURE STUDIES
Citation Formats
N. Birlik, “The Shattering Symmetries between the Imaginary and the Symbolic in Carter’s The Magic Toyshop,” LITERA-JOURNAL OF LANGUAGE LITERATURE AND CULTURE STUDIES, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 1–17, 2021, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://hdl.handle.net/11511/91974.