Jung's Advice to the Players: A Jungian Reading of Shakespeare's Problem Plays

Jung's Advice to the Players: A Jungian Reading of Shakespeare's Problem Plays

Jung's Advice to the Players: A Jungian Reading of Shakespeare's Problem Plays

Jung's Advice to the Players: A Jungian Reading of Shakespeare's Problem Plays

Synopsis

Shakespeare's problem plays present an unusually fertile field for Jungian tillage. Like a face glimpsed in a crowd and then lost, these works seem to hint at truths just beyond our grasp. Viewed through the lens of Jung's theory of archetypes, pieces fall into place with remarkable clarity, each revolving around a specific critical axis that allows us to see the form and structure that elude us in other readings. The author argues that Jung's theories offer the best key to date for these most intriguing of literary and dramatic puzzles.

Excerpt

It is through art that mankind has always attempted to reconcile his inner experience with the world outside himself. From the Altamira cave paintings to Jackson Pollock's Abstract Expressionism, we can see the record of that search in the visual arts. Embedded in our music, our architecture, and our literature are the trail markings of that inner journey, what might be regarded, in Jungian terms, as the history of the collective western psyche.

Carl Gustav Jung, one of the world's greatest travelers of inner space, that other "undiscovered country" showed us that we might indeed return from its bourn the richer and wiser. And so, like explorers, we shall attempt to follow Jung's charts and maps of those inner regions in order to see how well they serve as guides to some of our most tantalizing mysteries, Shakespeare's problem plays, defined here as the three "bitter comedies," and Hamlet.

The extraordinary power, the numinosity of great art stems from its ability to speak to the unconscious, that part of us which Jung tells us communicates not in words, but in symbols. Theatre, which combines verbal and visual arts, works on both levels in a particularly potent way. The words, which appeal to the conscious mind by their intellectual, emotional, or aesthetic content, also speak to the unconscious, calling up personal and archetypal associations the conscious mind cannot recognize but can experience, sometimes in . . .

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