The psychological approach views literature through the lens of psychology. There are multiple approaches to the psychological aspect of literature but the two most recognized are the Freudian and Jungian approach. The best approach to use when critically analyzing the novel Of Mice and Men, written by John Steinbeck, is the Jungian approach. Because the novel’s main theme is a struggle with the idea of “self”, using this approach allows the reader to understand the main character, its influences, and ultimately his actions.
The Jungian approach was brought about by Carl Jung. He believed in the concept of individuation. This is the process of discovering what makes a person different form everyone else. The Jungian approach looks at one’s self through three aspects. These three aspects are the shadow, the persona, and the anima. This is said to be seen through the idea of an archetype. Jung’s concept of archetype is viewed through a symbol, character, situation, or image that evokes a deep universal response (Guerin). Archetypal literary criticism construes a text by focusing on recurring myths, prototypes and symbolisms in the narrative.
The novel, Of Mice and Men, is a story of two men by the names of George and Lennie. They are migrant workers new to the California area where they soon are to start work. They have a homogeneous relationship. George is described through the text as a small dark man that has strong features. He is strong-minded and the main character of this novel. Lennie on the on the other hand is described as shapeless. He possesses an incredible strength that George does not have. George is the brains of the operation while Lennie is perceived as the strength behind it all. He is devoted to George and their vision of having their own farm—the dream of all dreams during this time.
These two men can be viewed as the transformation of the men that lived during this time period. They had to change from the typical agricultural generation into the new age industrial generation. This is what the historical approach focuses on. In this case, the two men can also be viewed as one person growing from another. However, the psychological approach helps one understand how these relationships play a part in the conclusion of the novel.
The persona, or a man's social personality, is represented through the main character—George. George is viewed by the reader as short-tempered, arrogant, and quick-witted. The novel starts off by conveying to the reader the relationship in which they have. George states “if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an’ work, an’ no trouble” (Steinbeck 10). George is obviously not obligated to take care after another man but he chooses to do so.
Throughout the novel, he complains but he never drifts from his main goal which is protecting Lennie. He even goes to the extent of lying about their relationship when it is questioned. Knowing that they are not related, he lies and calls...