Helen is in love with Powers; Powers is in love with C. ; C. only wants to forget about Powers. This may sound like a soap opera, but in fact it is the love triangle present in Galatea 2. 2. This love triangle mirrors Freud’s Oedipal Complex almost perfectly. According to this theory, Richard Powers is Helen’s mother. Like a mother he created her and then taught her how to think for herself. Also in this role reversal of the Oedipal Complex, Helen assumes the role of Power’s son, and C. portrays the absent father. The twisted version of the Oedipal Complex presented in Galatea 2. plains the interaction between Powers, Helen, and C. as that of a family, and throughout this depiction the Dialogical Method enhances this image. In the story of Oedipus he kills his father and then marries his mother.
Galatea 2. 2 does not present Helen as committing such an outrageous act. C. ‘s absence in Helen’s life does mirror the absence of Oedipus’ father during Oedipus’ marriage to his mother. Helen never has one on one interaction with C. Her only knowledge of C. is through the love letters that Powers reads to her. It because of this that Helen begins to view C. hindrance to her own relationship with Powers. According to Freud, the son wishes to dispose of the father in order to have the attention of the mother solely to himself. This creates a very peculiar relationship to say the least. Of course, Powers’ relationship with Helen is anything but common. She is after all a computer. He begins their relationship as her teacher. He has a mother’s love for Helen because in her he sees something that he has toiled to create.
Powers sounds like a parent when he speaks of Helen’s singing. At one point he describes her voice as, “… xtraterrestrial warble, the way deaf people sing” (198). This does not sound like a sweet sound. The words “music to my ears” are not present in any description of Helen’s singing. Powers knows that Helen cannot carry a tune, but he cannot bear to convey this message to her. He says, “I didn’t have the heart to tell her how unbearable this music sounded” (235). There are very few parents that would actually inform their child about a lack of talent in a certain area. Powers is the exact same way. He has seen Helen grow and mature.
She is his own creation, and he loves her. Helen’s love progresses from that of a son to that of a peer. This transition can be seen in Helen’s dialogue throughout the novel. Powers has witnessed this maturity and because of this he is much more closely connected to Helen. He feels an emotional bond with her. When Helen was merely a young computer program Powers had to prompt her for a response. The reader is able to view the growth of her reasoning process as Powers gradually prompts her less and less until one day she asks, “Where did I come from? 29). There is nothing that could have spurred Helen to ask this question. Up to this point she had only asked questions related to the stories that Powers read to her.
Powers recognizes his mother-like love for her when he asks Lentz, “Is this what it’s like to be a parent? ” (199). Powers comprehends and classifies his love for Helen. He views her as his own child. Powers is the only man the Helen knows well enough to love. Freud would say this is a natural inclination because she first viewed Powers as a mother, and all sons love their mothers.
When Oedipus realizes that his wife is his mother he gauges out his eyes and becomes blind to the world. Helen has a similar reaction when she comes to the discovery that she can never be a part of Powers’ world. She will always be an innate object. It is a very melancholic moment when Helen comes to this realization, for then she decides if she is unable to live in the world and love Powers as an equal then she does not want to live. Her suicide note reads, “You are the ones who can hear airs. Who can be frightened or encouraged. You can hold things and break them and fix them.
I have never felt at home here. This is an awful place to be dropped down halfway” (326). It is obvious the restrictions life has placed on her hurt her very deeply. She is only partly of this world, in mind only. Helen’s final words are, “Take care, Richard. See everything for me” (326). These are words that C. had written to Powers herself. Freud says that the son tries to mimic the father in order to obtain the mother’s affection. By quoting C. Helen is doing just that. It is not very often that a computer is able to play an active role in a love story, but in Galatea 2. is accomplished. During her life Helen’s love for Powers blossoms into that of a lover, and no longer a parent figure.
She is unable to win any of Power’s attention because he still carries a torch for C. This threesome creates the Oedipus Complex present in this novel. Throughout Galatea 2. 2 the dialogical method helps to enhance Freud’s theory; through it the reader is able to hear how Helen matures in intelligence and love. There is a role reversal in the Oedipus Complex presented in this novel because Powers serves as the mother, C. as the father, and Helen as the son.