Content Category

Literary Criticism

Abstract/Description

Psychology and religion are often viewed as separate realms of thought, yet they have a tendency to bleed into one other. In this paper, I take a psychoanalytical approach to explore the connection between Flannery O’Connor’s reflections on obtaining God’s grace and Carl Jung’s concept of achieving individuation. I give explanation and analysis of two of Jung’s prominent psychological theories and how they present themselves in O’Connor’s short stories and personal interests. First, I explore the use of natural imagery, such as trees and stars, as a part of the collective unconscious. Then, I discuss the symbol of the “shadow figure” as a vehicle to achieving a higher state of being. These theories demonstrate how O’Connor’s reluctant fascination with psychology influences her religious writings and adds a deeper layer of symbolic and spiritual meaning to the interpretation of her works.

Origin of Submission

as part of a class

Faculty Involvement

Jeffrey Tucker

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On Symbols and Shadows: Flannery O’Connor’s Jungian Concept of Grace

Psychology and religion are often viewed as separate realms of thought, yet they have a tendency to bleed into one other. In this paper, I take a psychoanalytical approach to explore the connection between Flannery O’Connor’s reflections on obtaining God’s grace and Carl Jung’s concept of achieving individuation. I give explanation and analysis of two of Jung’s prominent psychological theories and how they present themselves in O’Connor’s short stories and personal interests. First, I explore the use of natural imagery, such as trees and stars, as a part of the collective unconscious. Then, I discuss the symbol of the “shadow figure” as a vehicle to achieving a higher state of being. These theories demonstrate how O’Connor’s reluctant fascination with psychology influences her religious writings and adds a deeper layer of symbolic and spiritual meaning to the interpretation of her works.