The "Excess of Negativity": Death Drive in Suzan-Lori Parks's Father Comes Home from the Wars

Document Type : Original Article


1 PhD Candidate of English Literature, Department of English Language and Literature, Central Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Assistant Professor of English Literature, Department of English Language and Literature, Central Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

3 Assistant Professor of English Literature, Department of English Language and Literature, Borujerd Branch, Islamic Azad University, Borujerd, Iran



The work of Slavoj Žižek includes the highly arguable concepts towards the re-articulation of the Lacanian notion of the death drive.This paper presents an expository trend joining the fragmentary depictions of the death drive inSuzan-Lori Parks's play, Father Comes Home from the Wars. The present analysis begins with tracing the most intuitive aspects of Žižek’s re-articulations of the concept in connection to the Freudian-Lacanian Psychoanalytical concepts of the death drive. Opposing the notions of the death drive as biological instinct, Žižek instead highlights the Lacanian notions of the excess of negativity, "undead" eternal life, and symbolic mortification. In Father Comes Home from the Wars, the death drive stimulates Hero as a social antagonist and allows him to defy his constraints as a slave and develop an entirely different man with a new form of subjectivity. His struggle towards freedom makes him the subject of conflict and disintegration. Hero's attempts are in vain and ineffective as freedom tends to figure forth to the Real and becomes the target of oppression. The paper ends with focusing on how the notion of self-relating negativity consolidates the foregoing Lacanian concepts and how the illusion of freedom opens up the experience of loss or trauma and undermines Hero's desire for emancipation.


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