Black Swan: Mother/Daughter Control Issues and Sexuality (3-8)
- Category: Culture and Media
In the Black Swan, the character of Nina lives the emotional life and physical life of a child, dependent on her mother for care. You see the bind they both are in.
Nina’s mother treats Nina as a child. She is not capable of functioning as an adult. To make realistic changes in this relationship, mother would need to treat Nina as an adult and Nina would have to rise to the occasion and become an adult.
But this doesn’t happen. They are both caught, and they are both frustrated by how they live together. Yet they both get and emotional and psychological benefits to their sense of who they are by maintaining the way this way of living with each other.
Everything in Nina’s most personal environment reinforces her child like identity. This helps to keep her removed from the feelings of an adult woman and certainly from her adult sexuality. You see this through the symbolism of her little girl’s room full of stuffed animals and fluff.
Her mother assumes responsibility for the details of Nina’s everyday living including providing meals, being her confidante – especially about the ballet and governing Nina’s time away from home. Nina accepts this control.
Is mother controlling Nina to feel powerful and keep Nina dependent?
Is Nina controlling mother to feel powerful and keep mother dependent?
Both can criticize and judge the other for emotional effect, but neither can break the pattern of control and manipulation they both need.
Growing pressure from the artistic demands of her role as the Black Swan push Nina to act beyond her psychological or emotional capacity. This creates a greater need for more fantasy in order to compensate for her psychological deficits. She attempts to go where she is unprepared.
Her limited sense of self is wholly identified with being a perfect ballerina. Her performance challenges now require that she express an adult woman’s sexual energies. Nina never developed the maturity to feel or cope with such feelings.
But Nina is not a child. She has dormant or repressed adult feelings, and they could disrupt her carefully constructed and limited immature life.
When energy is compressed and confined, like lava under a volcano or oil pressed into underground pools by the massive weight of the earth, that energy will explode forth through any crack in the container. The volcano erupts. The oil gushes into the air or the sea.
When normal human adult sexuality is thoroughly compressed and confined a crack in the container will release that energy in unexpected and even bizarre eruptions. Nina did not develop as an adult woman. She did not experiment with her sexuality gradually as part of her normal development as a woman. Under pressure to release her sexual energy with no way to guide, direct or experience that energy as a healthy and mature woman, her sexuality gushes forth with no established channels to hold it.
Her mind creates fantasies to hold her experience. As in most severe eating disorders, particularly anorexia and bulimia, She does not know the difference between fantasy and reality. She only knows her obsession.