My article on the negative father complex entitled “Marrying Mr. Rochester: Redeeming the Negative Father Complex” was just published by Psychological Perspectives. Here is a link where copies (up to 50) can be downloaded for free.
In the article, I explore how the father wound in a daughter can present itself as a haunting presence in adulthood, and how creative engagement with this inner content can lead to its transformation. To examine these themes, I use the novel Jane Eyre, the biography of Charlotte Bronte, and the Grimm’s fairy tale “The Singing, Springing Lark,” which is a “Beauty and the Beast” variant.
I first read Jane Eyre when I was 14, and it had a tremendous impact on me. When I re-read it about five years ago, I was just as struck with it, and curious about its strong hold over me. I read somewhere that Rochester is the perfect female fantasy. This immediately struck me as true.
Curious about Rochester as fantasy figure, I came to realize that Jane Eyre is in fact a novelization of “Beauty and the Beast.” (I am not the first to make this connection.) I doubt very much that Bronte was attempting to do this, or realized consciously that her story followed this archetypal pattern. Rather, the novel was her working through of her inner father wound. Since “Beauty and the Beast” was also a favorite childhood fairy tale of mine, I knew I was onto something of great significance to my own psyche.
“Beauty and the Beast” and its many variants are tales that deal with a father wound and its ultimate redemption. As best as we can tell from biography, Charlotte’s own story ended happily in this regard. As I explain in my article, I do believe she successfully worked through her negative father complex.