Date of Award
College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences
W. Scott Howard, Ph.D.
Alchemy, Bachelard, H.D., Jungian, Mythology, Phenomenology
In H.D's lyric epic, Helen in Egypt, Helen of Troy experiences a phenomenological transformation in the brazier of the heart, which burns both on the beach of her new home in Egypt and in the depths of her psychic life. I have envisioned a process by which Helen psychologically enters into the brazier's flames to begin an alchemical process, so that she might see the beauty of the earth emerge and understand the rhythmic significance of the heart's perception. I call the brazier's (or the heart's) place of alchemical transformation the grief-threshold, which balances Helen on the edge of the underworld, but also reveals that beauty is the aquifer of life's longing, both for her, and for mythical figures of her imaginal experience. The visitations of figures like Achilles, Theseus, and Paris, bring Helen closer to understanding coniunctio, the alchemical marriage of masculine and feminine that takes place in the brazier of the heart. Her identification with mysterious feminine figures like Aphrodite, Persephone, Thetis, and the Egyptian goddess Isis provides a mythic landscape through which to welcome anima mundi--the soul of the world--inherent in the earth's beauty. She finally learns that the alchemically transforming heart perceives with a greater trajectory, expanding the body and the psyche into intimate relationship with an Aphroditic consciousness that reveals the conversational wisdom of the earth and the heavens.
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Eliza C. Bennett
Received from ProQuest
Bennett, Eliza C., "Alchemical Transformation and the Grief-Threshold in H.D.'s Helen in Egypt" (2012). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 66.
Literature, Psychology, Philosophy