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Approaching the Ideal Self through Love: Lacan’s objet petit a and Representations of Love in The Color Purple, Poor Things, and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao


  • Lukas Krupka

Summary, in English

Using Jacques Lacan’s theories of subjectivity, this dissertation analyses the relationships between the ideal selves and the romantic desires of characters in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Alasdair Gray’s Poor Things and Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondous Life of Oscar Wao. Lacan argues that there is an inherent lack in all human beings, stemming from incompleteness and early helplessness, and employs the notion of the objet petit a, the cause for desire, to represent a subject’s desire to redress their lack. Furthermore, Lacan employs the notion of the Imaginary, to denote subjectivity as a specular image, as well as the Symbolic and the Other, to denote subjectivity directing itself through language. These terms explain how the Lacanian subject’s lack is generated and how desire is diverted to symbolic objects. The dissertation will examine the applicability of Lacan’s paradigms to readings of the three novels. Building on these readings, this dissertation suggests that characters seek romantic partners as a way of validation and accomplishment, often with patriarchal overtones. This dissertation examines representations of love and romantic attraction to analyse the possible subconscious relation between romantic desire and self-realisation.


  • Master's Programme: Literature - Culture - Media

Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Jacques Lacan
  • objet petit a
  • love
  • attraction
  • desire
  • selfhood
  • ideal self
  • self realisation
  • Alice Walker
  • The Color Purple
  • Alasdair Gray
  • Poor Things
  • Junot Díaz
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao


  • Cian Duffy (Professor)