A Lacanian Perspective on Face and Identity in Ariel Dorfman’s Mascara / Ariel Dorfman’ın Maskara Romanında Yüz ve Kimliğe Lacancı Bir Bakış

Fatma Eren


In this study, the unnamed narrator of Ariel Dorfman’s Mascara, who has a congenital facial peculiarity, is examined through Jacques Lacan’s critical ideas on the formation of the subject. Lacan gives an extensive account of the process of the individual’s becoming a subject and the positions this subject takes in relation to the social structures. The subject’s tendency to conform to the norms of society is closely intertwined with a continuous “desire” that arises in relation to an existential lack. For someone having an atypical appearance, just like the protagonist in Mascara, the burden on this lack is doubled because he lacks both in being and in the face, the most critical body part in an assigning identity to an individual. Due to his featureless face, the unnamed narrator in Dorfman’s novel is conferred a devalued status offered by the wider society as the Other. Highly aware of his status as an outsider, the narrator believes that it is possible for him to become visible and ordinary through someone’s love. Although his “desire” to be recognized by a woman costs him his life, neither his death nor the absence of a physical face prevents the unnamed narrator in Mascarafrom getting what he demands, which is remembrance. Drawing on the theoretical framework by Lacan, this article offers that the occurrence of facial stigma as a subordinate social category is due to a set of social expectations that are transformed into “ideal” and “standard.”

Anahtar Kelimeler

Ariel Dorfman, Mascara, Jacques Lacan, Facial Anomaly, Other.

Tam Metin:

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.