Shakespeares Tragic Sequence

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Shakespearean tragedy - Wikipedia

Evans expresses irritation with Horatio for trying to join Hamlet in death. Green is a French psychoanalyst associated with the school of Jacques Lacan. Like Evans, he is a hedgehog: a man dominated by a single, all-embracing idea. Frank Kermode, who admires the book, points out in his foreword that Anglo-Saxon readers are likely to find this introductory section difficult, and its manner unfamiliar.

William Shakespeare

The warning is fair. The audience must interpret stage dialogue without the benefit of explicit commentary. In doing so, it relives the experience of the child, who attempts to comprehend the mystery of its origins through interpreting its parents.


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In both cases, the truths of the unconscious are hidden, and their discovery inhibited by the force of repression. But what is concealed from the child and from the theatre audience is clear enough to the Freudian analyst.

Green is prepared for readers to resist his oedipal readings. Indeed, his attitude is very much that of the experienced analyst poised to catch his patient evading an unpleasant but potentially therapeutic truth. To disagree with Green is to invite the charge of repression — and as a result The Tragic Effect is, in its own terms, virtually unassailable. Of the five works of art which Green discusses, Othello is obviously the least mythic.

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Its plot, borrowed from a 16th-century Italian novella, does not readily yield up the primal Freudian archetypes to be found in the stories of Agamemnon and Iphigenia, Orestes, Oedipus and Pentheus. The results are not very convincing. With both Othello and Desdemona lusting after the lieutenant, it is hardly surprising that their marriage goes to pieces.

That is, he has gone to live in a foreign land in order to save himself from the desire to castrate his father, only to end up performing this act metaphorically speaking upon the substitute father, Brabantio. This is to improve on Fluellen: Wales and Macedonia are strikingly similar places because there are rivers and salmon in the one, and none in the other.

Shakespearean Tragedy - Elements of Shakespearean Tragedy - characteristics of tragedy

This is partly because, in dealing with the Greek material, he enters a familiar, closed-circuit network of Freudian speculation in which he has predecessors Marie Delcourt, Melanie Klein with whose particular interpretations he can quibble, while perpetuating their general method. Either you are sympathetic to this approach to Greek tragedy, or you are not.

It does not, for instance, seem reasonable to compare the Oresteia of Aeschylus with something Green has christened the Oedipodeia , as though Sophocles had written his two Oedipus plays at the same time, and intended them to be seen as a unit. Its plot, borrowed from a 16th-century Italian novella, does not readily yield up the primal Freudian archetypes to be found in the stories of Agamemnon and Iphigenia, Orestes, Oedipus and Pentheus.

The results are not very convincing. With both Othello and Desdemona lusting after the lieutenant, it is hardly surprising that their marriage goes to pieces.

That is, he has gone to live in a foreign land in order to save himself from the desire to castrate his father, only to end up performing this act metaphorically speaking upon the substitute father, Brabantio. This is to improve on Fluellen: Wales and Macedonia are strikingly similar places because there are rivers and salmon in the one, and none in the other. This is partly because, in dealing with the Greek material, he enters a familiar, closed-circuit network of Freudian speculation in which he has predecessors Marie Delcourt, Melanie Klein with whose particular interpretations he can quibble, while perpetuating their general method.

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Either you are sympathetic to this approach to Greek tragedy, or you are not. It does not, for instance, seem reasonable to compare the Oresteia of Aeschylus with something Green has christened the Oedipodeia , as though Sophocles had written his two Oedipus plays at the same time, and intended them to be seen as a unit. Like his predecessors, Green gives the impression of being more interested in the myths themselves than in the highly-wrought and sophisticated works of art which embody but also veil them. His analyses also fail to engage with the best modern accounts of the plays, which have tended to stress the public, status-defined nature of character in Aeschylus and Sophocles, and to be sceptical about the notion that these authors were at all interested in unconscious motivation.

It might be argued that books about Shakespeare written by hedgehogs — critics in the grip of a single, consuming idea — constitute some of the worst literary criticism currently marketed by reputable publishers. Presumably, much of it escapes into print because publishers know that they can sell books, even bad books, about Shakespeare.

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Shakespeare's Tragic Sequence

To be handled in such monolithic terms seems an ironic fate for an author who, more perhaps than any other, was temperamentally aligned not with the hedgehogs but with the foxes. For Muir is a critical fox.

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It reappears now as a companion volume to his new study of the comedies. The book commands attention as the work of a distinguished Shakespearean who is remarkably devoid of critical prejudices, and far more interested in the plays than in what he can construct out of them. We need, in the greatest tragedies, at least to sympathise; and the kind of criticism which reads like a speech by the public prosecutor, or — still worse — by the Grand Inquisitor, has not proved very rewarding.

I personally find Muir less persuasive on the comedies than on the tragedies. This is partly because the critical tradition here is nothing like as rich as it is with the tragedies, thus depriving Muir of the opportunity to exercise his gift for the synthesis, evaluation and sifting of differing points of view.

His own readings seem, in some instances, to be uncharacteristically dogmatic, shutting out other, equally valid responses, or possibilities which the text will sustain. The book suffers, to some extent, from its compression.