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Volume 19, Number 1 (1994)

Dramas of Desire in Margaret Laurence's A Jest of God, The Fire-Dwellers, and The Diviners

  • Mathew Martin
May 22, 2008


Margaret Laurence's fiction works against the dogmatic and exclusive application of the Oedipal drama to the workings of desire; instead, Laurence choose different locations for the rearticulation of desire. In A Jest of God, Rachel reworks the structure of her desire in the personal sphere and realizes that her super-ego is an internal construct, not an external reality. In The Fire-Dwellers, the Oedipal nature of civilization, with its divisions between the public and private spheres, leads Stacey to collapse these divisions and articulate alternative evaluations and structures of desire for herself, her children, and society. In The Diviners, there are multiple, often contradictory, privileged sites of presence around which desire is structured. In these three novels, Laurence deconstructs, historicizes, and proposes alternatives to the Oedipus complex and its implications.