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Beyond Romance's Utopia: The Individual and Human Love

This thesis is a critique of romantic love theoretically premised on the analytical psychology of Carl Jung and the humanistic psychoanalysis of Erich Fromm. The aim of this critique is to explore whether there are grounds for postulating a conception of love beyond the current romantic framework. As the critique is primarily concentrated at the depth level, romantic love is examined via the medium of Cinderella folklore, with particular focus on Andy Tennant's 1998 film adaptation of Cinderella, Ever After. Based on a Jungian approach to the psyche and psychic products, the methodological framework incorporates the three following tools: The tool of interpretation at the subjective level, in which the characters of the Cinderella fairy tale are read symbolically rather than taken to denote literal fictitious characters; the tool of constructive analysis, in which it is argued that romantic love is more than 'nothing but' a boy/girl love story or 'nothing but' a myth depicting patriarchal oppression; and the tool of amplification, in which archetypal similarities between the Christian myth and the Cinderella fairy tale are highlighted. The central argument of this critique is that while romantic love does not provide a viable model of relatedness if taken and practiced literally, the romantic myth nonetheless contains within it the basis for a fuller and richer experience of love and relatedness if read subjectively. The rationale for a depth critique of romantic love is based upon the Jungian postulate that phenomena such as dreams and myths issue fundamentally from the unconscious psychic realm, and further upon Jung's recognition of a psychological developmental process he refers to as 'individuation' activated by engagement with the products of the unconscious. A symbolic/psychological reading of romantic love brings to light that romantic desire toward another is an outward manifestation of an inner desire for individual realisation, and is expressive of the individual's own capacity for wholeness. The value of a symbolic reading of romantic love is appreciated if it is conceived that it is precisely individual realisation that forms the basis for what is referred to by Erich Fromm as productive or knowledge-based love, argued here to be the ideal and only firm basis for human relatedness generally and intimate relatedness specifically.
Type of thesis
Stock, C. (2007). Beyond Romance’s Utopia: The Individual and Human Love (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2577
The University of Waikato
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