Medusa’s Head Essay
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In the essay “Medusa’s Head,” Sigmund Freud puts forth the bizarre and obtuse assumption that there is a symbolic connection between the legendary Medusa (gorgon) of Greek mythology and sexual terror - Medusa’s Head Essay introduction. In short, the Medusa represents castration as further symbolized in the form of the female genitalia and the myth of the Medusa’s gaze turning men into stone is symbolic of an erection.
Freud goes further into depth into this symbolic relation by equating the ugly image of the Medusa as a symbol that female genitalia can be frightening to men and that an erection equates fear, hence, turn to stone refers to being frozen with fright. However, there can be an alternate meaning of the erection where it will mean defiance.
This is an interesting compare contrast method Freud uses to support his claims. While there is a outlandishness to Freud’s comparisons, there is also a strange logical, linear cohesion that allows his concepts to make sense.
On the other hand, while Freud’s symbolism makes sense within the context of how he defines it, it is not presented in an open forum. In other words, what we see here is mainly Freud’s interpretation, but we do not see a counterbalancing opinion. This is important because Freud’s theory remains exactly that – a theory. The compare/contrast game that Freud presents (erection equates to stone, stone equate to fear or defiance, etc) is decided upon by Freud himself. In the Gorgon myth, themes of sexuality are present, but so are themes of pride, honor, arrogance, etc. As such, interpretations other than Freud’s can be equally acceptable.