Essay on Psychoanalytical Criticism of Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Essay on Psychoanalytical Criticism of Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Length: 1530 words (4.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview


One of the facets of psychoanalytic theory is the role of the unconscious and the conscious. In the text, Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice Charles Bressler claims that Freud’s contemporaries viewed the conscious as only observing and recording external reality and claimed that the conscious accounted for the basis of reason and analytical thought while the unconscious merely accumulates and retains our memories (121). Therefore, many psychoanalytic theorists believed that the conscious was solely accountable for our behavior and daily actions (Bressler 121). However, Freud challenged this widely accepted notion by claiming that the unconscious not only stores our memories but also includes our suppressed and unresolved conflicts (Bressler 121). Freud also argued that the unconscious also collects and accrues our hidden desires, ambitions, fears and passions (Bressler 121). Consequently, Freud asserted that the unconscious guides a significant part of our actions and behaviors by amassing disguised truths and hidden desires that want to be exposed through the conscious (Bressler 121).

In Jacques Lacan’s essay “The Agency of the Letter in the Unconscious or Reason since Freud,” he agrees with Freud’s claims that the unconscious influences our behavior and actions. As a result, Lacan created three different categories to explain the transformation from infant to adulthood, namely need, demand, and desire and labeled these three psychoanalytic orders, as the Imaginary, the Symbolic and the Real stage.

Lacan claims that during the Symbolic stage the child is initiated to language, and the unconscious and repression appear in the psyche. The child now learns that words symbolize objects, and he ...


... middle of paper ...


... theory of metonymical language. Moreover, Lacan’s theory of metaphor is clearly evident in the skillful writing of Shakespeare escalating metaphors of guilt. Shakespeare’s play Macbeth is often viewed as a tale of greed and ambition. However, read from a psychoanalytic context, the play could have a much deeper meaning about our unconscious desires.


Works Cited

Bressler, Charles E. Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 5th ed. 2011. 

Lacan, Jacques. “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience.” The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. Ed. David Richter. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989.  1123-1128. Print.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. Boston: D.C. Heath and Company, 1915. Google Books.
Web. 3 Sept. 2014.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Psychoanalytical Criticism of Lady Macbeth Essay

- Psychoanalytical criticism is a form of literary critique, which uses some of the techniques of psychoanalysis in the interpretation of literature. The focus of this essay is to use Psychoanalytical criticism while analyzing Lady Macbeth’s character in William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. However, before I begin my examination of Lady Macbeth’s character, I feel that concept of psychoanalytical theory needs some introduction. One of the more prevalent Psychoanalytical theorists after Freud was Jacques Lacan....   [tags: Shakespeare, Macbeth Essays]

Powerful Essays
1643 words (4.7 pages)

Psychoanalytical Criticism of Macbeth Essay

- Psychoanalytical criticism is a form of literary critique, which uses some of the techniques of psychoanalysis in the interpretation of literature. One of the more prevalent Psychoanalytical theorists after Freud was Jacques Lacan. In his text, “The Signification of the Phallus,” asserts that the idea of both sexes are based on the male “being” and the female “having” the phallus, and these two differences determine the relations between the sexes while also bringing them together. For Lacan, the phallus for males represents power, authority, and desire while for females the phallus signifies lack of power and agency (182)....   [tags: phallus, Lacan, Masculine Power]

Powerful Essays
1186 words (3.4 pages)

Psychoanalytical Criticism Essay

- Psychoanalytical criticism is a form of literary critique, which uses some of the techniques of psychoanalysis in the interpretation of literature. Lacanian critics examine psychoanalytic phases such as the Symbolic and apply this phase while interpreting literary texts. Lacanian critics also associate the literary work’s content to broader Lacanian concepts, such as the Phallic and the Other. The focus of this essay is to apply these psychoanalytical techniques while interpreting Lady Macbeth’s character in William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth....   [tags: Psychology, Freud, Lacan]

Powerful Essays
2761 words (7.9 pages)

Feminist Criticism Of William Shakespeare 's Macbeth Essay

- When a character does something unexpected or acts in an unusual way, it typically carries significance. Specifically, females are bound to change and break from the stereotypes and roles expected of them. These stereotypes–which have been deeply rooted into society’s culture–and the ways in which female characters differ from or react to them are of main interest to feminist critics. Feminist critics focus on the gender roles and stereotypes present in literature and whether literature reinforces those stereotypes (Siegel)....   [tags: Macbeth, Woman, Gender, Femininity]

Powerful Essays
1276 words (3.6 pages)

William Shakespeare 's ' Macbeth ' Essay

- Scottish Pride in Relation to Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” As one of the most well known of William Shakespeare 's tragedies, Macbeth exhibits a wide range of motifs and subtle criticisms that are still relevant today. Pride, lineage, and ethnic identity are simply a few of the major themes that continue to stand the test of time. In Macbeth we can easily see that these ideas are present. The following pages will discuss the ways in which these motifs, specifically related to motherhood and children in the northern reaches of the Scottish peninsula, played an integral role in the foundation of the play....   [tags: Macbeth, William Shakespeare, Scotland]

Powerful Essays
1169 words (3.3 pages)

Essay Analysis Of William Shakespeare 's ' Macbeth '

- Trust and honesty make up a marriage and shared experiences and secrets help to construct the belief that marriage unites two people in a unique way. In the elizabethan era to move up the socioeconomic ladder women marry up and the way to continue to move up, the couple functions as a team. To effectively work as a team couples must speak honestly with one another in matters, objectifying every word, feature, and motion of their mate. In William Shakespeare’s Elizabethan tragedy, Macbeth, Shakespeare emphasizes trust and honesty through the motif of marriage to recognize that people 's’ trust and honesty allows for exposure of their faults....   [tags: Macbeth, William Shakespeare]

Powerful Essays
702 words (2 pages)

Deception Of Macbeth By William Shakespeare Essay

- False Faces (Theme of Deception From Macbeth Acts I and II) In life there have always been those people who act false towards us and one can 't help but wonder why. What is it that makes one be deceptive. Could it possibly be that that person wants something from that one person. Acting false toward someone is a very terrible thing to do, yet so many of us do it. There was a person who was supposedly friends with this other person and yet they would talk smack on one another when the other was not around....   [tags: Macbeth, William Shakespeare, Macbeth]

Powerful Essays
952 words (2.7 pages)

Macbeth, By William Shakespeare Essay

- William Shakespeare once said “The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.” In other words the men who commit a sin has to live with the consequences and guilt. If any person commits a sin, there is always the feeling of guilt, if we ignore our guilt it can lead to a destruction of our conscience. In the play Macbeth a tragedy written by William Shakespeare. Set mainly in Scotland, the play dramatises the damaging physical and psychological effects of political ambition on those who seek power for its own sake....   [tags: Macbeth, William Shakespeare, Macbeth]

Powerful Essays
1865 words (5.3 pages)

Essay about Macbeth, By William Shakespeare

- The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “night” as “the period of darkness in each twenty-four hours; the time from sunset to sunrise.” However, “night” takes on a new meaning in William Shakespeare’s renowned play. William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a tragedy set in eleventh century Scotland, focuses on the deterioration of a Scottish general named Macbeth. In the play, the title character is encouraged by his wife to kill the King Duncan so he himself can assume the role. He is persuaded to eliminate every obstacle in his way to the throne, including people....   [tags: Macbeth, William Shakespeare, Macbeth]

Powerful Essays
1475 words (4.2 pages)

Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

- Many literary critics have presented theories on the meaning of William Shakespeare's Hamlet, ranging from claims of Oedipal Complexes to insinuations of homosexuality. Though most such interpretations can be considered true at some level, there seems to be some basic theme - some driving force - that underlies all other interpretations. While most criticisms focus on individual characters, a more insightful criticism of the true nature of Hamlet can be drawn simply by analyzing the key relationships in play....   [tags: Shakespeare And Feminist Criticism]

Powerful Essays
2524 words (7.2 pages)