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The Animal Within: A Psychoanalytical Perspective on Shape-Shifting
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2011 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 15 credits / 22,5 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

As seen from cultural history, shape-shifting is a very widespread literary motif, which suggests that it has high inspirational power and general appeal. Shape-shifting has not been critically examined in the detail it merits: it is mostly examined as a part of other theories. Examination of Freud‟s psychological theories and modern literature such as Dracula, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains shows strong connections between the power of this motif and repressed animal instincts – an animal within. This connection usually manifests symbolically rather than as an actual representation of an unearthing of repressed material. There are connections to religious beliefs and a wish to be more than human which raises questions about what is implied by changing into an animal – less than human – shape. The relation between shape-shifting and repression causes an uncanny atmosphere about the motif, something which is used extensively in The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains and Dracula. There is also evidence suggesting the possibility that psychosis and neurosis might manifest as a sort of mental shape-shifting. In literature this can be seen in the were-wolf Lupin in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and the Berserkers of the Norse. Examination of the Boggart and Lupin of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and of the Norse berserkers show that the empowerment of shape-shifting mostly lies in control. All of this considered, and with the lack of critical examination in mind, shape-shifting seems severely underestimated and under-examined.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. , 22 p.
Stockholm studies in English, ISSN 0346-6272
Keyword [en]
Animal, within, shapeshifting, shape-shifting, freud, sigmund, harry, potter, dracula, hartz, wolf, werewolf, psychosis, superhuman, subhuman
National Category
General Literature Studies Psychology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-59480OAI: diva2:428107
2011-05-30, E803, universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 16:20 (English)
Fine Art
Available from: 2011-08-18 Created: 2011-06-29 Last updated: 2011-08-18Bibliographically approved

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