Electra Complex and the Confusion of Albee’s Martha’s Sexual Identity: A Psychoanalytic Study

Arafat Abdali Rakhees, Lajiman bin Janoory


According to the Freudian psychoanalytic theory, earlier traumatic experiences highly influence the psychological development of personality. Freud also affirms that the earlier years of childhood development play a crucial role in the formation of personality. He states that all normal infants go through specific stages of psychosexual development that are naturally progressive, namely: oral, anal and phallic stages. Any disruption of or delay in the progress of any of the psychosexual stages or failure to cope with them causes the fixation of the libido at a particular stage. Martha, the central figure in Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, suffered from painful emotional experiences during childhood which gave her an unbalanced personality and a fragile ego. She lived a lonely and troubled childhood because she was abandoned and rejected by her father, a matter that has left a deep scar on her psyche. Martha also has a phallic fixation owing to the unresolved sexual conflicts during the phallic phase of the psychosexual development, a matter that negatively influences her personality. Applying Freudian psychanalytic theory, the aim of this study is to investigate the influence of past traumatic experiences of childhood on Martha’s behaviour and her psychological wellbeing. The study also seeks to uncover the impact of the unresolved Electra Complex on the development of Martha’s personality and her sexual maturity.


Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Freudian Psychoanalytic Theory, Martha, Phallic Fixation, Electra Complex, Defence Mechanisms

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.7n.5p.1


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