Olive Schreiner situates The Story of an African Farm in a fractured world comprised of drought-stricken earth, splintering religion, inaccessible education, and shattered familial units. Within an existentialist backdrop, Schreiner immediately foregrounds her protagonist’s pursuit of meaningfulness through a concept of universal interconnectedness. Even as a child, Lyndall keenly perceives the inherent flaws of the broken society in which she lives; and her childhood experiences on the farmstead define her revolutionary identity as the Victorian New Woman. Lyndall’s physical and intellectual maturation can be examined through the psychoanalytical lens of Jacques Lacan’s pivotal essay, “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the I Function.” Although Lacan’s theory chronicles the development of an infant’s psyche, a symbolic interpretation renders it applicable to Lyndall, the embryonic New Woman, whose growth represents humankind’s next step on the evolutionary ladder.
Angela Chui, Arcadia University
"Mirror, Mirror: A Psychoanalytical Interpretation of Olive Schreiner’s New Woman,"
The Compass: Vol. 1
, Article 4.
Available at: http://scholarworks.arcadia.edu/thecompass/vol1/iss3/4