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Theme of Self Awareness in Literature

Literatures of different countries have different ways of reflecting their country as a nation, its history as a society, and the culture by which its people live their day to day lives. For foreigners who read such literature, these stories spread across the globe are the means by which they can get to know these places with cultures so different yet so similar to their own and obtain a better understanding of them. In the realms of academic and scholarly studies of these literatures, it is, more often than not, more common to find research and reviews done by non-Asians on Asian literature and it is only within the past decades that Asians have set their eyes on taking a peek at their fellow Asians literatures.

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Reading literary narrative fiction has the potential to change readers’ sense of self and their perceptions of others. Current pressing questions concern the processes involved in a mode of reading that impacts self- and social perceptions (Hakemulder& Fiahlo, 2016) and the outcomes of this mode of reading (Koopman & Hakemulder, 2015). It has been suggested that Theory of Mind and narrative self-examination are process components of reading literary fiction.

The English literature uses Psychoanalysis theory. Hossain defined psychoanalysis as a theory that is regarded as an ideology of personality organization and the evaluation of personality that guides conscious and unconscious elements in the mind. The academic field of literary criticism or theory is the direct connection between literature and psychoanalysis. Among the analytical approaches to literature, the psychoanalysis has been regarded as an intriguing and enriching approach in the utilization of interpretative analysis. This psychological interpretation has become one of the components in finding out the concealed meaning of a literary text. It is also beneficial to explore the personality of the writers as it contributes to his experiences in writing literary pieces. In conclusion, the goal of the psychoanalysis theory is to manifest human behaviors caused by the interaction between their conscious and unconscious self.

Meanwhile, Rezaei and Seyyedrezaei discussed that psychological theories contributed to the different fields of studies that deal with human behavior (2012). Literature is a perfect example of this. Literary criticism, as an example, is clearly visible on topics about psychological theories. Knowing these psychological theories in literary criticism is important especially if a learner has already grasped the main points of those theories. Most of these theories such as humanism by Rogers, Maslow and Erickson, evolutionary psychology by Bolles and Freud’s ideas are indispensable in literary criticism.

A study done by Rajan in 2017 stated that Freud and Fromm had several important contributions in psychological literary criticism. The main difference between Freud and Fromm is the focus of their ideologies. Fromm focused on human needs whereas Freud gave importance to the animal instincts.

Furthermore, Wellmann (2014) defined Theory of Mind as ‘the ability to explain people’s behavior in terms of their thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and desires’ (p. 6). While Golombek and Johnson (2017) defined narrative self-examination as ‘the sharing of feelings and perspectives inculcated by reading the narratives of another’s situation and condition’. Without being exhaustive or meticulous, some of the growing empirical support for these claims were outlined based on both quantitative and qualitative studies for this theory.

Experimental studies have shed light on the role of Theory of Mind and self-examination in reading literary fiction. In five online experiments among adults of around 34 years old, Golombek and Johnson (2017) found that reading literary fiction enhanced readers’ affective and cognitive Theory of Mind, which they defined, from a neuropsychological rather than a literary perspective, as ‘the ability to detect and understand others’ emotions’ and ‘ inference and representation of others’ beliefs and intentions’ (p. 377). They contended that the (temporary) effects on Theory of Mind were specific to what they selected as literary fiction, and not to popular fiction. This distinction, which may seem somewhat artificial was operationalized by selecting novels awarded literary prizes, against texts that did not receive awards.

Despite the fact that the effects found by Golombek and Johnson (2017) were not all confirmed in replication studies (DasGupta, 2018), their study opened up the possibilities for further investigations on the role of Theory of Mind in literary fiction reading.

In a study among adult readers of about 25 years old, DasGupta (2018) focused on self-examination. Although, unlike Golombek and Johnson (2017, he defined the concept from a psychological perspective, considering it ‘the cognitive and intellectual ability to recognize the emotions of other persons and to emotionally respond to other persons’ (p. 2), he expected that this broader notion of self-examination could be related to the literary reading process. He found that self-examination increased a week after fiction reading, but only in case of high transportation.

Through interviews among 16-year-old readers, Phillips (2019) found that reading (literary) fiction made them compare their own lives to story situations and experience empathic engagements with characters’ feelings. Moreover, adolescents regarded reading fiction as a way of understanding others’ experiences, through which they might feel connected to others or see new possibilities for their own lives.

Finally, in a survey study among Dutch elementary and secondary school students, aged 9 to 17, Delafield (2016) found that more than half of 3025 participants reported having experienced sympathy (52%) and self-examination (57%) when reading fiction, and that these affective reading responses seemed to occur more often among avid readers.

In the study of Gibbon, (2011), she provided an insight on self-examination through intellectual reading of the historical Evagrius Ponticus in the Christian Desert. She explained that Evagrius’s concern with how memories lead people to dwell on these “bad thoughts” proves to be point of contact with psychoanalysts which many modern literary authors, including Michel Foucault, have detected; yet a close analysis of what Evagrius takes to be involved in self-examination reveals that Foucault’s account of the “technologies of the self” fails to take into account Evagrius’s interest in the distinction between the examined self, the ideal self, and the focal point of the self-denying activity.

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Furthermore, in the Comparative Study Of Women Characters In Shashi Deshpande and Shobha Selected Novels by Ramchandra (2013) mentioned that the author Bala Suman pointed out that after some suffering and self-examination, the women come to terms with their present self with an added understanding and acceptance of their past and they are now ready to live their life in content and deeper understanding of who they really are.

After Dark, originally published in 2004 before being translated into English and published internationally in 2007 is set in contemporary metropolitan Tokyo. It tells a story of things that happen in the late hours of the night where everyone is usually asleep. It seems to mainly explore the theme of isolation with each of the characters whose experiences throughout the events of the novel seem coincidentally connected to each other in some way. In a way, it can be said that this work is reflective of a contemporary Japanese society and culture wherein the people constantly try to find connections with each other but cannot because of their own personal kinds of isolation (Mussari, 2011).

In the After Dark novel, Haruki Murakami gives attention to the personality elements and focuses both on the two characters who have activities in a different place. The story of Mari Asai has setting place in the outside of the room. Then, the story of Eri Asai which is set in her room. Mari’s personality is really different from Eri’s personality that makes this novel really interesting. Mari’s personality is rather a tomboy and not feminine. But, Eri is a really beautiful and feminine woman. Haruki Murakami presents a conflict between every character which is so complicated. It is shown from the conflict between two sisters Mari Asai and Eri Asai. Second complicated, it is showed from the conflict between owner Alphaville Kaoru and Chinese mafia because of the prostitution. Thirdly, it is shown from the conflict between Kaoru and Shirakawa. It makes this Haruki novel “After Dark” really unique because not every conflict has a resolution problem or the resolution (Nuryanto, 2015). Haruki chooses to make a different style of novel story to make original artwork by himself.

Synthesis

The review of literature and studies has provided help and more knowledge for the researcher in accomplishing the main objectives of this research study. The reviews and analysis provided understanding which is very significant into the different stages of this present study.

Specifically, in terms of psychological novels, according to Jung (Freud, Jung, and Adler, 1981), it is obvious that since psychology explores mental processes it will also provide insights into literature; because the human mind is the source of all science and arts. While, Abrams (1953) identifies four main elements of literature: the text, its theme, the author and the reader. Also, According to Holland (1990), literature has played a significant role in Freud’s discovery of psychoanalysis. Added to this, there is a need for extensive research of the development of this relationship between literature and psychology (Glynn, 2017). Moreover, the primary purpose of the modern text is to get closer to the reader so that every reader can interpret it in their own way’ (Lacan, 2014). Therefore, the psychoanalysis, with a myriad of components, is only valid if all the components are considered simultaneously, because an unbreakable, causal thread between them is undoubtedly there (Freud, 2012).

In terms of Haruki Murakami, Hughey, (1998) assumed that Murakami’s works are useful only insofar as they possess entertainment value. While, Gabriel (2002) note an increase in the level of his protagonists’ social consciousness in Murakami’s novels written after 1995, describing this using the term ‘from detachment to commitment’. Matthew Strecher’s research connects identity search with magical realism and argues that Murakami’s magical realism operates as a mechanism that portrays the protagonist’s unconscious (Stretcher, 1999). Advancing the topic of Murakami and America, Rebecca Suter’s close readings of Murakami’s short stories demonstrate that Murakami, as a transatlantic cultural mediator, bridges American and Japanese literature and culture (Chozick, 2008). Added to this, some Japanese literary critics find that Murakami’s works are not easily integrated into the mainstream, in part because of his insistence on experimenting with form (Napier, 2005). Essentially, Murakami is an individual; he is taking the same existential journeys that his protagonists are taking by daring to write in a style that he desires, and focus on the issues that he believes are crucial to Japanese society (Garguilo, 2012).

In terms of Self- Examination, Dasautels (2014) established that the human brain was naturally wired to adopt self-analysis in promoting learning in order to create a conducive state of mind facilitating learning. Webb (2002) also pointed out that teacher practicing self-analysis refining one’s own ability promoted the ability of recalling and recognizing the given information at the knowledge level, classifying, organizing, estimating and comparing the given information at the behavior level, drawing conclusions, observing the facts, collecting evidence to formulate logical reasoning, solving new problems using the existing knowledge at the skill level, making conclusions by using extended thinking at value level represented in a simple model. Despite the importance of social networks and the view of the multiple-identity-self to identity theories, almost no research examines the role of social network structure on identity processes and very little research examines how the relationship between identity meanings impacts identity processes (Walker, 2015). On the other hand, Burke and Stets (2009) argues that behavior is guided by the drive to verify self-meanings in social encounters. Despite the importance of identity meanings for behavior and emotional outcomes in identity theory, the self is generally viewed as structured in terms of the relative importance or salience of the various identities that one participates in (McCall and Simmons, 1978). Furthermore, Katznelson (2014) research has demonstrated that changes in reflective functioning are linked to self-examination change. In a typical self-referential memory paradigm study, different word categories (i.e., traits and adjectives verse semantically and orthographically related words) are presented to participants who are instructed to remember them at exposure and then asked to recall them at a later time (Rogers, Kuiper, and Kirker, 1977). The self-reference effect describes the tendency for participants to retrieve traits and adjectives that are self-related more successfully than words that are semantically or orthographically related (Symons and Johnson, 1997). Thus, research exploring psychological empowerment at an individual factor level has noted that differences in meaning are positively associated with several self-related outcomes such as self-esteem and self-efficacy (McAllister, 2016).

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In terms of Literary Devices, there are many techniques available to the writer, such as allusion, alliteration, and allegory. Some popular techniques or devices include symbolism, imagery, simile, metaphor, and personification (Marijani, 2014). In the analysis of poems, for instance, Deasy (2002) found that the most captivating aspect is the way the writer confronts his heart and dialogues with it as if it is a human being, a device that indicates the loneliness that one faces while in prison. Also, she reports that the dramatic antagonism between the poet and his heart reveals the conflicts of his ideology and that of his political leaders. On the other hand, Geider (2005) maintains that in the novel, Kiswahili and English are combined somewhat at random. Furthermore, the writer uses more techniques in his or her writing for the purpose of creating a more interesting, meaningful, authentic and interesting story such as allusion, exclamation, hubris, imagery, personification, first person, dialogue, symbol, and stream of consciousness (Barton and Hudson, 1997).

In terms of Integrating Self-examination in Teaching Literature, Baldwin (2001) suggested that a teacher as a facilitator entrusts the knowledge to his/her students by developing trust, respect and valuing the ability of one another. Knowledge acquisition could be promoted through self-analysis by adopting the following strategies: Setting specific learning objectives relevant to the given information; Setting attributes to each of the learning objectives. These two strategies help the teacher to fulfil the objective of improved performance as well as personal development (Chin, 2007). As self-analysis is the important aspect of cognitive and constructivist theory attempting to explain learning and motivation proposed by Shepard (2001). These acquired skills enable the learners to internalize their learning strategy leading to the development of concrete learning experience (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2005). Also, teaching literature from a psychological perspective provides a basis for the study and analysis of human motivation and behavior, as psychology and literature make mutual contributions to the study of both disciplines (Wagner, 2010). Moreover, teaching literature has recently changed a lot from knowledge about literature to knowledge of literature, from reading literature in breadth to reading literature in depth. It has been noticed that there is no perfect method of teaching literature as each method has its advantages and disadvantages (El-Helou, 2010).

Furthermore, some studies such as Hakemulder & Fiahlo (2016) and Koopman & Hakemulder (2015) argued that the Theory of Mind and narrative self-examination are process components of reading literary fiction. The mentioned studies are similar to the current dissertation as it explored self-examination in literary fiction. However, it is different as the current study seeks to identify the characters that portray self-examination in the chosen novel.

Golombek and Johnson (2017) found that reading literary fiction enhanced readers’ affective and cognitive Theory of Mind. On the other hand, in a study among adult readers of about 25 years old, DasGupta (2018) found that self-examination increased a week after fiction reading, but only in case of high transportation. The mentioned studies are similar to the current dissertation as it explored psychological theory such as the theory of mind and self-examination in literary fiction. However, it is different as the current study seeks to identify the characters that portray self-examination in the chosen novel.

Phillips (2019) found that reading (literary) fiction made them compare their own lives to story situations and experience empathic engagements with characters’ feelings. The mentioned study is similar to the current dissertation as it explored literary fiction’s characters’ feelings. However, it is different as the current study seeks to identify the characters that portray self-examination in the chosen novel.

Mussari (2011) emphasized that After Dark is reflective of a contemporary Japanese society and culture wherein the people constantly try to find connections with each other but cannot because of their own personal kinds of isolation. On the other hand, Nuryanto (2015) mentioned that in the novel, Haruki Murakami gives attention to the personality elements such as conflict. Thus, instead of being plot-driven, it seems to be more character driven, at least in the academic sense.

In conclusion, this paper argues that bringing back or restoring the educational use of introspection (conscious awareness or self‐examination) as a systematic learning technique will allow teachers to examine emotion as a product of the individual processing of meaning as well as shared cognitions especially to their students. Examining own mental and emotional processes, this paper argues that introspection can generate interpretive materials from self and others useful for understanding the lived experience of emotions and also in studying and learning literature. Findings from these studies connote that they all demonstrate the advantages and disadvantages of introspection in dealing with the complex, ambiguous, and processual nature of emotional experiences and humans’ own self-awareness.

 

  • Hutton, P. (1988). Foucault, Freud, and the Technologies of the Self. In L. Martin, H. Gutman, &
  • P. Hutton (Eds.), Technologies of the self: A seminar with Michel Foucault (pp. 121-144).
  • Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press.
  • Bettelheim, B. (1990). Freud’s Vienna and other essays. New York: Knopf.
  • of Gibbons (2011), titled Vice and Self Examination in the Christian Desert: An Intellectual Historical Reading of
  • RAMCHANDRA, R. S. (2013). WOMEN CHARACTERS IN SHASHI DESHPANDE AND SHOBHA DE S SELECTED NOVELS A COMPARATIVE STUDY.
  • Ellis, C. (1991). Sociological introspection and emotional experience. Symbolic interaction, 14(1), 23-50.

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Theme of Self Awareness in Literature
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Literatures of different countries have different ways of reflecting their country as a nation, its history as a society, and the culture by which its people live their day to day lives. For foreigners who read such literature, these stories spread across the globe are the means by which they can get to know these places with cultures so different yet so similar to their own and obtain a better understanding of them. In the realms of academic and scholarly studies of these literatures, it is, mo
2021-08-23 01:34:04
Theme of Self Awareness in Literature
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