The Search for Self: Individuation and the Alchemical Process in the Vida de Santa Maria Egipciaca

by Brown, Goodwin

Abstract (Summary)
This dissertation examines the Vida de Santa María Egipcíaca (VSME) by utilizing Carl G. Jung's theory of the process of individuation and its corresponding alchemical symbolism in order to provide a new critical observation from a psychological and an archetypal point of view. The basic reason for undertaking this study is neither to refute other studies nor to argue against other opinions, but to contribute to the expanding field of psychological criticism on this work. Though it is customarily viewed as a Spanish medieval hagiographic poem, VSME is, in a more profound sense, a poem which reflects the archetypal alchemical patterns which aided Jung in identifying a psychological process which he termed "individuation". In order to illustrate the stages of this search for authentic psychic wholeness, this dissertation examines the VSME by utilizing Jung's theories. Chapter 1 describes the legend of Saint Mary of Egypt as a hagiographic work and its similarity to secular medieval romance narratives. This correlation is offered in order to demonstrate that divergent interpretations and influences may be brought to bear upon a hagiographic work. Chapter 2 first provides a brief historical background of the alchemical tradition and then discusses Jung's inner experiences and scholarly interests, of which alchemy was only one of many. These eventually led to the formulation of his theories which are pertinent to the present study. Chapter 3 examines the VSME as it illustrates the individuation process through an alchemical interpretation. Chapter 4 provides a summary and several implications concerning the value in the study of Jungian insights.
Bibliographical Information:


School:University of Cincinnati

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:medieval poetry archetypal symbolism in


Date of Publication:01/01/2001

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