L.M. Montgomery Institute, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada â€“ June 2004
In the opening scene ofÂ The Blue Castle, â€œValancy could not find the key of her Blue Castleâ€ (Montgomery 5), the fantasy home in Spain that has been her escape since she was very young. Before this day, Valancy was content with her fantasy life taking her away from her actual life into a world of desire. However, as Slavoj Å½iÅ¾ek suggests, â€œwhat the fantasy stages is not a scene in which our desire is fulfilled, fully satisfied, but on the contrary, a scene that realizes, stages, the desire as suchâ€ (Å½iÅ¾ek 6). The blue castle of Valancyâ€™s fantasy stages her desire, teaches her how to desire, but her reliance on that fantasy to fulfill her desire prevents her from engaging with her life outside that particular fantasy. This paper centers on the ways her exile from her fantasy world, combined with the knowledge that she has little time to live, changes Valancyâ€™s landscape foreverâ€”drives her out of her castle in Spain and into her own life in Deerwood and Muskoka.
In Chapter 8, â€œValancy reviewed her whole life between midnight and the early spring dawnâ€ (Montgomery 39). The anecdotes that comprise this review resemble the narratives of an analysandâ€”Valancy places herself on her own couch, trying to understand her misery. In the course of this self-analysis, she touches upon the three â€œidealsâ€ that Jacques Lacan names in The Ethics of Psychoanalysis as central to the work of psychoanalysis: â€œhuman love,â€ â€œauthenticity,â€ and â€œnon-dependence.â€ She first notes that she has, â€œnever been able to have [her] own dust-pileâ€ (Montgomery 41), which indicates her failure to achieve the ideal of non-dependence: she wants something of her own, no matter how small. She also expresses regret that she prevented the one boy, â€œwho had ever tried to kiss herâ€ from succeeding (Montgomery 42). Valancy understands the importance of human love as she realizes the lack of it in her life: â€œnot even her mother loved herâ€ (Montgomery 39), and, at the age of 29, she is â€œunsought by any manâ€ (Montgomery 1). At the climax of her review, she resolves to change her life through the ideal of authenticity: â€œI shall never pretend anything againâ€ (Montgomery 46).
This paper will focus on Valancyâ€™s fantasy as an imaginary framework through which she prepares herself to understand her relationship to her surroundings as she makes the transition from fantasizing an escape to effecting a material escape from the miseries of her life. Taking Å½iÅ¾ekâ€™s point that: â€œIt is only through fantasy that the subject is constituted as desiringâ€ (Å½iÅ¾ek 6), I will demonstrate that first by constructing the fantasy and second by giving it up, Valancy Stirling comes into subjecthood and a new relationship with her desires.