“We Are All Haunted Houses”

The Rector in Lindsay Clarke’s The Chymical Wedding


  • Matthew A. Fike




C. G. Jung, Lindsay Clarke, The Chymical Wedding, alchemy, castration, Christianity, coniunctio, India, materialism, nigredo, sheela-na-gig


Details regarding Edwin Frere, the Victorian pastor in Lindsay Clarke’s The Chymical Wedding, yield new meaning in light of C. G. Jung’s alchemical writings, which are mentioned in the novel’s concluding acknowledgements. Although Frere’s union with Louisa Agnew has been considered a proper coniunctio, his relationship with her and his subsequent self-castration require a darker interpretation than some critics—and the narrator—propose. Other significant events under examination include Frere’s disastrous experience in India, his reaction to the sheela-na-gig Gypsy May, two fine moments (helping a young outcast and ice skating with friends), and his life after the novel closes. Relevant statements by Jung about the psychology of the Christian faith, particularly the role of repression, persona, and projection, are applied to Frere’s experiences in order to argue that he does not achieve a fruitful or lasting coniunctio with Louisa and that his self-castration is problematic because it participates in the materialism that alchemy seeks to counter.