The Hour of the Star

Think of the different ways one might go about writing a psychoanalytic interpretation of this literary text by Clarice Lispector.  From your reading thus far, what insight have you gained into the main character’s psyche?  Explain in 50 words by tomorrow, 9 am.

31 thoughts on “The Hour of the Star

  1. A lot could be said or interpreted from this story. The girl, Macabea, and her inability to comprehend the world in a meaningful way leads me to believe it is a metaphor. Much could be said about sex and death, but I took the story as a loss of innocence. Macabea, who in many ways resembles a child in her small, frail body and her lack of depth, represents childhood innocence. This innocence fluctuates, shown in her lustful dreams, until the climax when she is struck by a car. She had finally begun to believe in the world, and she was killed. This loss of innocence is resonated through her death. In a way, we learn of the main character, and as I see it: his love for her symbolizing his wish to return to innocence. But it is too late, Macabea is dead.

    • I agree completely with your analysis that this is the story of a young girl losing her innocence to sex and reality. Her world is a very cold one, fraught with tragedy, poverty, and heartbreak. Feeding her struggling feelings are lust for Olimpico, her ultimate sexual desire (and abuser), and her later desire for Hans, who embodies her unrealistic dreams of wealth, equality, and sex. By the end of the story, Macabea is killed by the climax of these feelings, both sexual and traumatic, in the form of getting hit by a car. At last, all innocence is lost and the old Macabea is forever gone.

  2. Thus far, it seems that the main character is a reflection of many developmental flaws, both sexually, emotionally, and mentally on the whole. This is reflected both in Macabéa and in her author. Ultimately, their psyches seem imbalanced and poorly developed, with the id being both repressed and rampant at times.

  3. From what I have read so far, I believe a theme of the main character’s psyche is innocence. She has gaps in her development, and some parts of her never seemed to be fulfilled. Her naivety also seems to suggest this. As Rebecca said, there is some repression of the id as well in the character.

  4. Very early in this text the reader is shown the conflict between the id and the super ego. The main character claims to empty herself of all desire which represents the superego suppressing the id and later chooses to scream without fear of judgment, the id overcoming the superego. The author herself grew up during WWI and dealt with the inner conflict of being an acceptable, proper young lady and fearing for her safety while experiencing the traumas of war.

  5. In The Hour of the Star, Lispector has weaved an interesting story of sex and psyche with a narrator (parts of whom seem as though they could represent the authors thoughts) and The Girl (Macabea) representing another side of her. As stated above, the Id plays a major role in this story because there are constant pulls between repression and letting the Id run rampant in life.

  6. From what I have read, I noticed that the theme of innocence is within Macabea’s psyche. The id, ego, and superego play a role in the book. The id is reflected in the repression going on and the id affects the superego and vise versa. The part we have read so far has dealt with sex and death, I think that the loss of innocence dealt with how Clarice Lispector grew up during the time of the first world war.

  7. From what I have read so far, Clarice Lispector creates a clear conflict between the id and the super ego, in which the id feels simultaneously suppressed by society and also free from societies constraints. This conflict could be correlated to the fact that Lispector’s childhood lacked a mother figure. The fact that her mother died due to syphilis contracted from a Russian soldier who had raped her, had led to a very feministic voice in her characters, which was very different from the usual masculine nature of writing that audiences are used to.

  8. After reading The Hour of the Star I also concluded that innocence plays a major role. Macabea is the epitome of innocence in the way she acts such as going to the movies, painting her nails, and imagining what it would be like if she were as famous as Marylin Monroe. She even believes the fantasy the physic tells her. Even though she is living a terrible life she only sees the good. While id, ego, and superego all play an important role in the story I mostly focused on the id since a component of id is childhood to death. The way that is shown is through Macabeas childlike innocence all the way until her untimely death.

  9. Psychoanalysis has varied manifestations, many of which can be used to examine Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star. In Freudian terms, she can be viewed as a person with an unformed id, because she does not allow herself to desire. Meanwhile, a Lacanian could argue she’s connected to the mirror stage, because she cannot view herself as a fully-formed being.

  10. Hour of the Star tells the story of a young girl, only nineteen, and tells of her struggles while living in Rio. There is a sense of solemn curiosity as Macabea feels inexperienced sexually and spiritually. This could mimic the Genital phase that Freud discusses. Macabea is immensely self-conscious and points out her blunt flaws of being “ugly” and “alone”. This does not necessarily mean that she desires to be something more as she never questions why things are the way they are. This would cross out the idea of the ID with it’s wants and desires. It is a story that not only references the idea of who the true person is but also finding out who the people around them are and why they are that way.

  11. This book is interesting to psychoanalyze because Macabea has a distinct disconnect between herself and being a person. A Freudian could conclude that she is this empty, asexual being because she lived a life where both her parents died, and she lived with an aunt who showed her little to no affection, which can impact someone’s sexuality. She is someone who has repressed her desires.

  12. The novel has dealt mainly with the topic of sex and death, ideas existing in opposition in terms of psychoanalysis. Sex is often viewed as a beginning while death is, obviously viewed as an end. Macabea’s character possesses an innocence that juxtaposes starkly again the sex and death the novel portrays which could be a picture of how young Clarice Lispector may have felt growing up during the tragedy and violence of the Great War. There also seems to be aspects of suppressed/ underdeveloped id or her id in major conflict with her superego because she doesn’t seem to allow herself to desire, as if she is ignorantly complacent with the way things are.

  13. In The Hour of the Star, so far at least, Lispector utilizes the creative outlet of a novel to project the conflicting feelings of sex, violence, and childlike innocence that she herself would have felt growing up in Brazil, seeing sexual horrors firsthand. The id is over emphasized with images of the sex drive beginning portrayed as well as the conflict between what a person truly desires vs what they feel they should desire. Growing up without her mother would also have led to a suppression of the id, without a mother figure in which she would imitate to learn how to love.

  14. In “The Hour of the Star”, Macabea has this innocence about her as she struggles with her difficulties living in Rio as a typist. She seems almost empty, as if her id isn’t being satisfied in some way. And when her id isn’t being satisfied and neither is the ego or superego.

  15. Thus far in the novel, I have found that the author’s thoughts often intertwine with Macabea’s, and that throughout the work, the author is at war with himself and the fact that he sees himself in Macabea, sometimes embracing and other times rejecting their similar ways of being in his parenthetical interjections.

  16. The Hour of the Star present the reader with a potential happy ending when Macabea is presented to a fortune teller. She is presented a fairy tale ending, that does would usually be her deus ex machina, but she is provided is instead provided a harsh end. Seemingly living a pointless life and a pointless death. At the start the readers may potentially think that she may some how achieve a better life through her unconscious, and in a way have a self fulfilling prophecy. Instead she is provided a death as a outcast. While outcast are usually thrown away from a community for a crime. Her crime seems to be for merely existing.

  17. In agreement with a lot of my classmates, my reading of the initial section seems to have the main girl resembling a childlike innocence. The way the author talks about her lack of desire and depth. Her lack of fulfillment in as a typist resulting from her stunted childhood is (in my opinion) a representation of a type Freudian style of mental imbalance.

  18. The narrator represents the id, while the girl represents the superego as an innocent virgin. This is emphasized by the narrator giving up on sex, but still experiencing “explosions” throughout his back-and-forth narrative. This suggests that the two characters are in fact the same, each fighting to influence the ego.

  19. The main character of Macabea is described as innocent in a not so innocent world. This is from stunted growth of the id in childhood, as she has maintained this childhood innocence to adulthood. She is described as if she has very little drive in her life, and is repressed, having to do with her id not growing as it should have throughout her life.

  20. In The Hour of the Star, the main character’s psyche could be battered as a result of not having parents to guide her through her stages of development. From a Freudian perspective, her id is flawed in the sense that she has desires, yet tries to suppress them- feeling guilty when they are present. These thoughts could also be a result of the abuse she endured from her aunt, which unconsciously labeled in her mind that sexual desires and actions are negative.

  21. Based on what has been revealed of Macabéa so far I believe that she may have had an incident in her childhood that could have stunted her development (pg 31). She presents herself with a very childish, innocent demeanor that can be interpreted as her psyche not being fully developed thus causing her to voice thoughts and opinions without the filter of the superego.

  22. From what I have read, the hour of the star seems to underline a conflict with the id of Macabea. Macabea seems to both relish the connection with her suitor as well as firmly hold onto her innocence, perhaps the conflict originates from her parents demise as well as the abuse from her aunt. I would agree with my classmates that her id is both suppressed and unleashed at times, becoming more common as the story and her relationship with Olimpico progress.

  23. In The Hour of the Star, Clarice Lispector, creates an extreme disclosure in Macabea’s ID due to her lack of friend and family affection. She lives innocently and closed off because of her strict and abusive aunt’s rulings in early childhood. Macabea’s psyche is seen as dull and unamusing due to her ‘asexual’ appearances as a woman. But, at times we get glimpses of the hope held deep inside of her. She dreams and has desires to be a child again. But, then punishes herself for having “good” thoughts and normal sexual feelings. Creating her own (anti)-social structure, she lives a lie created by the unknown but visible terrors of her life. She lives life as a puppy, unknowingly aware of the normalcy and depths of the real beauties of the world.

  24. For such a short read, this has kind of been a hard read so far. Not in understanding, but in analysis. Like many of the others that have already posted, the id side of Macabea is overtly apparent. The guilt she feels over her own dreams fits perfectly (presumably) with most psychoanalytical readings of the story. I hadn’t really picked on the repression aspect (or perhaps I did and just didn’t realize it) of the character until reading the other responses but it’s made further reading feel a bit less difficult in terms of simultaneously reading for both analysis and enjoyment.

  25. Like many have said, the main theme of the book seems to be the loss of innocence in the main character, Macabea. She represses her desires, her id, which could be because of her development as a child, since both her parents had died and she lives with an abusive aunt and even soon her aunt dies.

  26. An interesting thing I noticed and slightly analyzed while reading is that the book is written (at least from what I’ve read so far) like a stream of thought prompt into the narrator’s mind. This emphasizes the underlying “Id” of displeasure and sexual repression through the almost frantic seeming tone and constant flux in tone.

  27. I agree with the previous comments, that this poem revolves around innocence, but I think her understanding of her own life and innocence itself is so romanticized that it can’t be taken from a realistic standpoint, possibly stemming from a deficit of human affection. I believe her whole fantasy world she’s created for herself is more of how she wished or even felt her life could be if not for outstanding obstacles she faced, this also might possibly even be foreshadowing her own death.

  28. This book, because of its stream of conscious writing style, lays bare the psyche, making it excellent for psychoanalysis. Moreover, every action Macabea makes has an intention (or lack of intention) clearly explained in the book. For example, when Macabea prays, she prays because her aunt taught her to pray, demonstrating how prayer and religious thought have been ingrained in her superego, despite her not even fully understanding their purpose.

  29. In The Hour of the Star, Clarice Lispector blends innocence and desire, portraying Macabea’s id. Macabea’s desire is shown through an interaction with Olimpico, wherein “she knew what desire was”, showing her primal needs (36). Macabea’s innocence is recognized through her belief that “even the worst childhood is enchanted” (26). Lispector intertwines innocence and desire to highlight the Freudian beliefs of development, showing how childhood is fundamental in maintaining a healthy adult life.

  30. The main character, Macabea, is pure childhood innocence. She lacks what Freud would’ve said is needed for a healthy childhood. She seems to have lacked the oral and sexual exploration in childhood. However, she seems to have suppressed her id. She is referred to as a virgin multiple times, and she seems to lack the desire to even eat. She’s a wide eyed innocent, seeming to contrast the author’s almost cynical attitude. The author describes herself as bringing Macabea into being, and the author seems to be simply beating down her character. However, Macabea remains oblivious. She questions incessantly like a young child, is is blissfully unaware how how needlessly mean Olimpico is. He dismisses and yells at her over everything, and she is none the wiser. Neither adult had the childhood Freud deemed necessary to be a functioning adult, so they lack the balance of id, ego, and superego.

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