Wednesday, April 04, 2007


The painting above is Edvard Munch’s The Scream. I thought it would be an adequate opening to my discussion on “screaming” within Parade’s End.

Freud talked to many patients with neurotic or hysterical symptoms. After organizing these patients’ experience and thoughts, he concludes that their problem stemmed from repressed and unconscious desires of a sexual nature. The “psychic apparatus” habitually represses these desires. As a result, these repressed wishes and lust become preserved by autonomic function of the brain. Freud suggests that these patients need to lose control of their feelings, and clear out the pain, agony, grief, or stress they have stored in their unconscious mind. Screaming is one of the methods that can help patients to lose control.

Screaming has appeared several times throughout Parade’s End. Ford attempts to illustrate World War I as a Freudian outcome. He points out that the aristocrats, or the ruling class, are not living up to expectations. They are not leading the country properly. Instead, they are corrupted. The only thing that they concern is how to hold the Façade of prosperity and respectability. By avoiding their responsibility, stress and guilt build up unconsciously. Eventually, World War I comes as an eruption of this crisis in the Edwardian era. It injects new vigor into England. The war, in a sense, is the loudest scream.

Freud Ford’s attempt t initiated with the mentioning of Freud on p. 37, when Sylvia said “I prefer to pin my faith to Mrs. Vanderdecken. And, of course, Freud.”

P. 99 “Mr. Duchemin, suddenly feeling the absence of the powerful will that had seemed to overweigh his own like a great force in the darkness, was on his feet, panting and delighted: ‘Chaste!’ He shouted.” Mr. Duchemin is an example of how the aristocracy has diminished in England. As a member of the ruling class, he is not even sane enough to make decisions. He has no virtue, and is incapable of giving speech that inspires. As he feels the “absence of the powerful will,” and perceives that he is not being a responsible aristocrat, he shouts and erupts. Mrs. Duchemin screams as well, because she has to maintain her image as an amiable housewife all the time. She keeps on tolerating Mr. Duchemin’s ridiculous speech and behavior. The anger she suppressed need to be released.

P. 139 “Not ten yards ahead Tietjen saw a tea-tray, the underneath of a black-lacquered tea-tray, gliding towards them, mathematically straight, just rising form the mist. He shouted, mad, the blood in his head. His shout was drowned by the scream of the horse; he had swing it to the left.” This passage shows the violence of mechanical civilization intruding the nature. Horses are symbol of nature in English culture and tradition. The horse screams because the governing class would rather drive. Its scream shows tension that has being building up for a long time prior to the outbreak of the war.

P. 145 “They were dashing from rock to rock on the cliff face, screaming, with none of the dignity of gulls. Some of them even let fall the herrings that they had caught…” The gulls are used to represent the aristocrats. Members of the ruling class, as they let out their emotion by screaming, are losing the dignity they posses. The etiquettes they learned, and their stoic practices have all been reduced to naught. They drop their respectability and prosperity just like the gulls drop the herrings they caught.

P. 177 “Sylvia screamed piercingly: ‘Stop! Stop! Stop!’” Sylvia’s emotional outburst is inevitable as she has always been as ice and cold as alabaster. She suppressed her guilt for causing the death of Tietjens’ father inadvertently, and her grief for the death of Father Consett. She blames the war for all her agony, and screams to let out all her suppressed emotions. She can no longer remain cold, as her eyes blaze out anger.

P. 178 “It has been remarked that the peculiarly English habit of self-suppression in matters of the emotions puts the Englishman at a great disadvantage in moments of unusual stresses. In the smaller matters of the general run of life he will be impeccable and not to be moved; but in sudden confrontations of anything but physical dangers he is apt – he is, indeed, almost certain – to go to pieces very badly.” Here, Ford addresses the fact that the Englishman are constantly under a lot of stress. Yet, they cannot release stress through crying or other emotional reactions, because this will be seen as a sign of weakness. Since Englishmen constantly suppress their inner emotions, they can break down emotionally easily.

P. 224 “For a moment he had felt temptation to stay. But it came into his discouraged mind that Mark had said that Sylvia was in love with him. It had been underneath his thoughts all the while: it had struck him at the time like a kick from the hind leg of a mule in his subliminal consciousness.” If Tietjens chooses to not go to war, he will be suppressing his emotion. By choosing to go to the war, he lets out all his inner pain. There will always be a temptation to keep emotions in one’s subliminal consciousness, since it is always easier to not deal with these emotions. As a result, stimulations, such as Sylvia, are necessary for the outburst of emotions.

P. 282 “He had two personalities. Tow or three times he had said: ‘Why don’t you kiss the girl? She’s a nice girl, isn’t she? You’re a poor b-y Tommie, ain’t cher? Well the poor b-y Tommies ought to have all the nice girls they want! That’s straight, isn’t it?...’” By not being able to speak out his mind, Tietjens is suppressing his idea and personality. His mind, like Jacob’s, becomes separated from the body. As a result, a few sentences later, Tietjens’ mind talks to him. As they suppress their thoughts, they prepare themselves, as soldiers, to erupt on the battlefield.

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