Shakespeare’s Identities
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203 pages

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No dramatist has treated identity in as many ways and in such depth as William Shakespeare. In Shakespeare’s Identities, James P. Driscoll shows how the Bard used history, comedy, tragedy, and romance to develop comprehensive treatments of personal identity.
Driscoll’s innovative study examines four aspects of identity: the conscious, social, real, and ideal. Drawing on Jungian psychoanalysis, Driscoll explores how Shakespeare’s plays dramatize a crucial need for self-knowledge and foreshadow larger identity issues. Sexual identity and the archetype of the outcast provide new perspectives on The Merchant of Venice. Hamlet’s quest for self-knowledge mirrors parallel quests that Jung found mythic heroes pursuing. Iago shrewdly exploits Othello’s racial outcast status and confused conscious and social identities to convince him that Desdemona’s real identity has changed. In Twelfth Night, as in the other romantic comedies, family, relationships, love, friendship, imagination, disguise, and time and place all shape identity. Measure for Measure is a profoundly political drama showing the interdependence of love and knowledge in the quest to understand real identity and achieve ideal identity. King Lear treats identity both archetypally and realistically to create a uniquely powerful tragic vision of the self and divinity.
From Falstaff to Shylock, Hamlet, Othello, Iago, Lear, and Prospero Driscoll offers original insights and perspectives on Shakespeare’s most fascinating characters. This new volume will hold great interest for students of Shakespeare and all English literature, along with all those concerned with the enduring issues of identity.



Publié par
Date de parution 20 décembre 2019
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781680539806
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Driscoll, James P., 1946- author.
Title: Shakespeare’s identities : psychological mythic perspectives / James P. Driscoll.
Other titles: Identity in Shakespearean drama
Description: Washington : Academica Press, [2019] | Originally published as Identity in Shakespearean drama by Bucknell University Press in 1983. | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2019048218 | ISBN 9781680532104 (hardcover) | ISBN 9781680539806 (ebook)
Subjects: LCSH: Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616--Characters. | Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616--Symbolism. | Identity (Psychology) in literature. | Archetype (Psychology) in literature.
Classification: LCC PR3069.S4 D74 2019 | DDC 822.3/3--dc23
LC record available at
Copyright 2019 James P. Driscoll
Critical Overview and Retrospect
Acknowledgments from: Identity in Shakespearean Drama
1. Aspects of Identity
2. Identity and History
3. The Merchant of Venice: A Tale of Two Outcasts
4. Hamlet s Quest for Self-knowledge
5. Change in Othello
6. Time Redeems Identity in Illyria
7. Measure for Measure: Political Authority and Ideal Identity
8. The Vision of King Lear
9. The Shakespearean Metastance
10. Character and Identity: Some Critical Approaches
Addendum: Integrity of Life in The Duchess of Malfi
Glossary of Jungian Terms
Identity in Shakespearean Drama , this edition s predecessor published by Bucknell University Press in 1983, has been out of print since 2005. The first book on its subject, it was a pioneering work with a bumpy history. It suffered for being a few years before its time, and from my own absence from the academic profession when it was brought out. Time, however, does not seem to have diminished the value of its ideas or withered the freshness of its approaches. Indeed, much of the work seems more current today than when it first appeared in print.
Both editions draw substantially on identity psychology throughout. Mythic and Jungian approaches provide the keys to identity in King Lear, Hamlet and The Tempest in both. In this new edition they also illumine the crucial and surprisingly neglected impact of the outcast archetype in The Merchant of Venice and Othello . All the plays treated herein contain mythic, psychological, and existentialist elements, and all can be profitably approached from a variety of angles. The Merchant of Venice chapter is entirely new to this edition yet old in that it appeared in the initial draft of my University of Wisconsin Madison dissertation, the embryo of both books. My dissertation advisor banned the chapter with its discussions of the father-daughter incest and homosexuality. These he deemed too outr for a dissertation. That was 1971, they hardly seem outr today; therefore, I revised and re-introduced the once controversial material.
The Addendum on John Webster s grand tragedy, The Duchess of Malfi , is also new material. Shakespeare s four greatest tragedies, Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth and Othello , all have male protagonists. As the single major Renaissance tragedy with a woman protagonist, The Duchess of Malfi offers intriguing parallels to the identity themes in Shakespeare s major tragedies. It s existential approach contrasts in illuminating ways to Shakespeare s more archetypal and more mythic approaches.
The King Lear chapter has been expanded to better explain why Lear is Shakespeare s most thought provoking play and in the very top rank of the premier works of Western civilization. Following Jung s principle that the self and the God-image correspond, we can see in Lear a figure initially like Yahweh who, compelled to endure the suffering of Job, turns in Promethean defiance to demand justice from a universe as arbitrary and senseless as his own will has been. With Lear s archetypal progress the play images a Godhead of father or primal parent, ego, shadow, and the anima with Cordelia, that prefigures Jung s Quaternity and whose sweeping theological implications are yet to be weighed and absorbed. All the other original chapters have been re-thought and revised. Because of the extensive use of Jung s concepts and their complexity, I have added a brief Jungian glossary.
I would like to thank Paul du Quenoy, of Academica Press, publisher of my recent work Shakespeare and Jung- The God in Time , for offering to bring out this revised and enlarged new edition of my 1983 book. Also I want to thank Associated University Presses for consenting to transfer of their rights on the first edition to Academica Press.
Critical Overview and Retrospect
Art is Alive, and Life is Art.
In a widely watched video, especially popular among today s college age viewers, famed cultural critics Jordan Peterson and Camille Paglia wrestle with a crucial question about contemporary academia: how did we get bogged down in the cultural quagmires that comprise so much of literary studies today? Why, they ask, did academia spurn or abandon Jung, Nietzsche, Freud, Erikson, Frankl, and Northrop Frye along with myths, archetypes, and symbols as well as the existentialism of Heidegger, Camus, and Sartre, for comparatively diminutive, simple, and shallow, neo-Marxist endeavors such as those of Derrida and Foucault? The quick answer is that the Western canon was derailed by political and social forces spurred by the Vietnam War, 1970s sexual liberation, and the civil rights movements whether racial, feminist, or LGBT. But there is much more to it than that, there is a deeper failure of nerve, spirit, and above all imagination. 1
These political forces incentivized universities to shift their hiring practices and qualifications, thereby opening doors to those bent on using academia to further cultural-activist agendas. The new activists entered a city that was no longer effectively defended, as the Goths and Huns invaded and overran the declining Roman Empire, some might say. By the late sixties, the dominant historical criticism had largely spent itself losing its appeal for students who were asking with increased frequency, what can Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Swift, Melville etc. mean to me? The answer from the older generation of professors at that time was nothing--to understand Shakespeare is to understand what he meant to his audience, not to you.
Understanding Shakespeare, they insisted, requires rigorous study of the accepted beliefs of his audience and times. Their mono-approach tended to make Shakespeare history, as in the phrase he s history, meaning past, dead, and irrelevant. It reduced the Bard to the lowest common Elizabethan denominator by assuming that he never wrote anything whose meaning exceeded the grasp of his audience. In short, Shakespeare was just a hyper-talented craftsman and entertainer, not a supreme visionary artist and thinker who at his best apprehended for Western civilization and all mankind meanings that sometimes exceeded the grasp of most Elizabethans even as they exceed the grasp of most moderns.
Historical approaches that refused pollination and refreshment from contemporary ideas and universal concerns seemed old hat to the new students of the 1960 s. One of my fellow graduate students told me, Professor X (my dissertation advisor) is very cruel to his students because he will not let them experience Shakespeare, he does not allow them to find Shakespeare s meaning for their lives. I thought a great deal about that then and since. To deny students their personal experience of the greatest our culture has to offer is indeed cruel, and stupid. Laboring under such proscriptions, severely limits intellectual enrichment and spiritual nourishment from our culture s greatest past achievements in literature, the arts, and philosophy. It is destructive to academia in the long run, and worse it impoverishes our own contemporary culture.
There is an aesthetic corollary to the quantum physics principle of Werner Heisenberg: we cannot observe a physical phenomenon without changing it: similarly, we cannot truly experience great art without it changing us- a reason why art is alive and life is art. Multiple forms and levels of meanings characterize great works literature. Among these levels are: the works possible meaning for the artist; for his audience and different segments of that audience; in the context of his contemporary culture; for universal Western culture and its canon; for mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and the other archetypal human roles; for humanity itself; for every rational being. To apprehend the range of meanings of great literary works, the conscientious critic must resist the temptation to claim a personal franchise on meaning: e.g., My research shows the work must mean X therefore it cannot mean Y, Z, or anything else. A metastance is always needed to any particular meaning, especially the meaning we prefer. In his greatest works, Shakespeare s over-riding meaning is ever the need for a godlike overview or metastance to meaning.
Nothing can come of nothing said King Lear. If students are allowed to find nothing more meaningful than desiccated history in past works most will dismiss those works as a waste of time. Others will follow Derrida and Foucault who, from the perch of their essentially anarchist metaphysics, see the great works of the past as hopelessly flawed in respect to their modern mo

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