The House That Was Never Built English Literature Essay

I’ve chose The House That Was Never Built by Henry Lawson as a subject for me to discuss on the relevant theories in it. After I had read and analyzed the story, I’ve soon discovered psychoanalytic criticism and symbolism criticism are the most relevant theories that suit with the main character and the narrator himself.

What is Psychoanalytic Criticism? Psychoanalytic Criticism here means when the narrator apply methods of treating emotional and psychological disorders in literature. Sometimes it also reflects the narrator’s childhood traumas, family life, sexual conflicts, fixations, and such will be traceable within the behavior of the characters in the literary works. 

At the beginning of the story, everything seems quite normal when the narrator describes about the place and the life of the people. Then, when the narrator starts to talk about the main character that is the bushman he starts to describe the bushman as a madman especially through the bushman’s actions and his words, immediately I know that the bushman is a madman. "At first I thought he was going to build a stone hut in the corner, but when I got close to him I saw that he was working carefully on the original plan of the building: he was building the unfinished parts of the foundation walls up to the required height". ""That house must be finished by Christmas." "Why?" I asked, taken by surprise. "What’s the hurry?" "Because," he said, "I’m going to be married in the New Year-to the best and dearest girl in the bush." I sense madness in the bushman’s behavior when he wants to continue building the unfinished house alone. The work that needs several men such as carpenters and bricklayers sounds impossible for a man like him to build a two storied house himself. He also mentioned about finishing the house by Christmas clearly shows us that nobody can make it on time alone. He tried so hard to realize his dreams ignoring on what the other people might think or say about him. The character became mad because his wife leaved him. After reading this line, I immediately realized something and made an analysis and compared the character with the writer’s background and soon believe that the writer wrote the bushman’s story as to represent himself. This is because both the bushman and Henry Lawson have a bad family problems history and when it comes to the word "History", I can also conclude that the story also have historical criticism in it. Both had experienced the same family problem that is both wives, the writer’s and the bushman’s leave them. I believe that Henry Lawson puts himself as the character the bushman because Henry Lawson wasn’t having a successful marriage and he was also handling with depression during that time, so he is using the bushman to be his alter ego in Tripartite Model based on Sigmund Freud to unleash his mental illness and depression.

He wrote this story with the character representing him because he believed that he was going crazy when his wife leaving him when she filed for divorce. Besides, than drowning his sorrows with alchohol, he wrote this story in reference to his own life. He was the bushman in this story. He was going mad due to his wife leaving. That is why; the character of the bushman, also the late young Brassington was described as a madman but then is still able to regain sanity as he talked to another person. I noticed that when the narrator first spoke to the bushman, he sounded mad but then as he spend time with the bushman, suddenly the bushman spoke like a true gentleman. Even though, the bushman was speaking about the house that was never built like it was built and he has a family living there. The bushman is able to be sane when there is company. This shows even more that Henry Lawson uses the Tripartite Model in the Psychoanalytic Criticism to express his deep desires and feelings.

In addition, the wife of young Brassington was also described as mad. I think here the writer is trying to relate it to his real wife. His wife was a feminist and a socialist at that time. Back then, feminism was a movement that caused a lot of controversy as it contradicts the practice of the century. Feminism is a movement that aims in establishing and defending equal political, economic and social rights of women. This to him was crazy as she was against the whole society and it’s not easy to change the mindset of the people. Besides that, I presume that she was written that way because she was mad enough to leave him.

At the same time, I noticed there are a few points of the Symbolism. The biggest example of symbolism is the house that was never built. The house represents a marriage as it is something that when built or established couldn’t be ruined unless there is another party like the natural disaster to ruin it. The house in this story represents the marriage of young Brassington and his wife. They were married only for two weeks and then got separated during their honeymoon when the wife found her former lover and left her husband. The other party here is the former lover of young Brassington’s wife. That is why the house was never built. It is because the marriage of the couple doesn’t have the chance to flourish. Just like the house. The workers only finish marking the site and putting the foundations but the walls never get the chance to be built.

In the bush, a big house shows the wealth of the people living in it. This is the common mindset of the people. When they are rich they are even more respected. This can be shown when the shameful act caused by the wife is being kept secret within the community. No one dares to bring it up, only on special occasions and to the locals. This shows that a family that is rich earns more respect compared to the commoners. Besides symbolizing respect, the house brings hope to the people in the bush. Even the narrator felt that it would be nice if there is a house with stairs. It shows that a house that size brings hope to the people around the bush. People want to work even harder to achieve wealth so that they themselves can have a house that big.

Finally, as for the conclusion, the criticisms in the short story are mostly related around Henry Lawson’s life. First is his marriage that wasn’t successful and secondly is about his hope when he was a kid. Henry Lawson was not born in a wealthy family and environment. He was brought up in a fairly poor family and his father only work as a coal miner. Henry Lawson wrote this short story based on his life. He changed the characters using his own interpretation of them.