A Freudian Analysis of The Fatal Sisters
When the psychoanalytical approach is applied to Thomas Gray's "The Fatal Sisters,", each of Freud's three main theories are glaringly apparent. A major factor in the poem's psychoanalytical grisly texture is that the poem is sung by the giants at the loom as they weave. The language they use not only reflects upon the characters, but it offers new insight for Freudian analysis.
The most obvious example of Freud's theories is phallic and yonic symbolism. (HCAL 132) War is being fought by the male warriors and all of the descriptions of the woof of war are rife with phallic symbolism. One prime example of this is line 22, "Pikes must shiver, javelins sing." The valkyries--who are the only characters mentioned by name in the giantess's song--are accompanied by appropriate yonic symbols. "Gondula, and Geira, spread/O'er the youthful king your shield" (31-32) The loom portrays an interesting blend of both types of symbols. The "Sword, that once a monarch bore," (15) is one of the phallic symbols of the loom, dealing with the power of men. The loom begins to take on seriously sexual imagery in the weaving of the crimson web of war. Like the shivering pikes, the depiction of the trembling cords of human entrails being shot through the shuttles and steadied by the monarch's sword does not require deep thought and examination to be seen in a psychoanalytical light.
Freud's theory of the three zones of the human psyche is present in the poem as well. The rage of war and the ambition that drives it forward (felt by the men) is representitive of the id. People don't simply die in the poem's war, they are "Gor'd with many a gaping wound." (42) The Giantesses which weave their fate are the superego. They control the id's desire for war, as shown in lines 51-52: "Sisters, weave the web of death;/Sisters, cease; the work is done." The mix of psychosexual symbols...