Mulvey, Laura. Citizen Kane. Great Britain: BFI, 1992. 49-57.
Orson Welles, himself, discounted the idea that Rosebud was in some way conclusive insight into the character of Charles Foster Kane, denouncing that such a straight-forward analysis would be simple “dollar-book Freud.” However, in part of this essay, Laura Mulvey goes about doing just that, only deeper, applying thoroughly supported psychoanalysis to some of the films most important scenes and explaining the significance that they play in the deeper level of the story.
Mulvey asserts that the informed view can and should attach significance to the sled because the scene in which the sled is introduced is very important in establishing Kane as a character. From a Freudian perspective, we see Kane’s closeness to his mother and the role that Thatcher plays in tearing young Kane away from her, setting up a type of Oedipal triangle that causes Kane to rebel against Thatcher and “everything [he] hates.” Because Thatcher, in contrast to Kane’s real father, represents capitalism, emotionless financial analysis, and crude decision making, Kane comes to despise these things, stuck forever in his childish past that must rebel and wants to be close again to his mother. As the scene comes to a close, the sled is the only thing left among a blanket of white. Mulvey mentions that in Freudian psychology, a memory is something that can be formed and forgotten, only to resurface again at a later time.
This trend of Oedipal aggression against the variety of father-figures in the film further exemplify the role that Mulvey’s psychoanalysis plays in interpreting the film.