Psychoanalytical Criticism

2775 Words Jul 15th, 2018 12 Pages
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. However, before I begin my argument, I feel that Lacan’s concepts of psychoanalytical theory need some introduction.
One of the more prevalent psychoanalytical theorists since Freud was Jacques
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When William Shakespeare’s dark tragedy Macbeth was written in London in the beginning of the seventeenth century, noble masculine traits included valor, authority, and undaunted aggression. On the other hand, noble feminine ideals was related to virtue, temperance, and obeying her husband’s desires—the phrase: “yes, my lord” was extremely common in Shakespeare’s time while wives spoke with their husbands regarding his desires. In this sense, men were awarded for their violent actions, as witnessed by Macbeth’s reward of the Thane of Cawdor for his bloody actions on the battlefield, while a woman’s behavior must adhere to the strict code of feminine compliance.
However, in Macbeth the cultural standards of appropriate femininity are in complete and utter disarray because of Shakespeare’s controversial character, Lady Macbeth. Scholars have traditionally read Lady Macbeth’s “evil” temperament as a form of confirmation of her attempt to seize power to further her husband's and her political goals. However, I argue that gender roles play a significant role determining Lady Macbeth’s dialogue and actions. I contend that Shakespeare’ s Macbeth exposes the intricate dynamics of gender and power through the representation of a merciless Lady Macbeth who imitates the violent practices of a masculine culture through her rejection of her own desires in favor of the desires of the Other. Alfar elaborates on the concept of gender roles and performance. She claims:
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