R. Gray

German 390/Comp. Lit 396/Engl 363/CHID 498/JSIS 488/Lit 298

Freud and the Literary Imagination


Study Questions:

Franz Kafka: "A Country Doctor"



1)    After reading "Country Doctor," reflect on the role of pairs and doubling in this text. Try to make a list of motifs, characters, or narrative events that exhibit this element of doubling. In this context you may want to reflect on the importance Freud places on the pattern "choice among three" in his essay "The Three Caskets."

2)    In "Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming" Freud asserts not only that our fantasies are always expressions of wishes, but that these wishes fall into one of only two categories: ambitious or erotic wishes. Can one interpret "Country Doctor" as a phantasmagoric wish that expresses ambitious and/or erotic drives?

3)    In "The Three Caskets" Freud claims that the unconscious often draws connections between things by following the path of semantic opposition. Is it possible to apply this rule to elements in Kafka's story? Give a list of possible examples in which a reference may have been replaced by its opposite.

4)    According to Freud, dreams and day-dreams function by translating abstractions into visual images. Can you find examples for this in Kafka's story? How would you interpret these images?

5)    Try to apply the mechanisms of the dream-work–condensation, displacement, visualization, break-down of logical connection–to the structure of "A Country Doctor."

6) It is generally accepted that Kafka's works are either consciously or unconsciously influenced by Freud.  However, Kafka spoke out against the therapeutic nature of psychoanalysis.  Can we say that “A Country Doctor” has therapeutic potential?  How is the theme of therapy (healing, curing) dealt with in the text?