Psychoanalytical Criticism Of Lady Macbeth Essay

1761 words - 7 pages

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. Cristina Leon Alfar’s essay "'Blood Will Have Blood': Power, Performance, and Lady Macbeth's Gender Trouble," provides a meticulous analysis of Lacan’s psychoanalytical theory. Alfar asserts that the idea of both sexes is based on the male “having” and the female “being” the phallus. These two differences determine the relations between the sexes and the phallus governs the male/female cultural roles. Alfar adds that males have power and she states that: “Male dominance and female obedience and passivity become naturalized through this symbolic bifurcation” (183). Consequently, according to Lacanian theory, the phallus for males represent power, authority, and desire while for females the phallus signifies lack of power and agency (Alfar 182).

Another important text to refer while exploring psychoanalytical theory is Lacan’s “The Agency of the Letter in the Unconscious or Reason since Freud.” In this text, 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 explains that one facet of the symbolic stage consists of the concept of the “Other,” and the female gender is structured into a reflection of the desire of the Other (Alfar 183). For Lacan, it is in order to be the phallus, that is, the signifier of the desire of the Other, that the woman will reject an essential part of her femininity, namely, all her attributes in the masquerade (Butler 61). Consequently, Lacan’s theory of the Other requires that femininity compels women’s rejection of her own desires, based on cultural mandates, in favor of the desires of the Other—the male subject (Alfar 183).

Lacan then turns his focus to that of the unconscious and the use and structure of language. He claims that the unconscious influences our behavior, actions, identities, and desires. According to Lacanian theory, the dialectic of one’s desire is based on one object symbolizing another, which is only a substitute for another. Lacan argues that the unconscious is shaped like the structure of language and language does not shape our identities and desire so much as our identities and desires are acquired from language (Richter1021, 1046). Lacan also explores the use of metonymy, and he describes this concept as mode of symbolization in which one word or phrase is signified by another that is associated with the...

Find Another Essay On Psychoanalytical Criticism of Lady Macbeth

The Role of Lady Macbeth Essay

2027 words - 8 pages     The female roles in William Shakespeare's Macbeth are those of the witches, more supernatural than human, Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff, the latter being presented in a minor, almost insignificant way. This paper will explore the role of Lady Macbeth and only make slight comment on the witches. Fanny Kemble in "Lady Macbeth" finds that the main female role could have ended in madness due to the evil tendencies of the lady: Lady

The Dynamicity of Lady MAcbeth Essay

653 words - 3 pages The strive and ambition for power can seem to be utter perfection, but one should be careful what they wish for because that power and ambition may cause their eventual downfall. An example of this would be shown in Lady Macbeth’s character in William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. Lady Macbeth’s strive for power leads her into a dark tunnel of guilt and a battle with herself subconsciously and consciously. For one thing when Lady Macbeth hears

Character Analysis of Lady Macbeth

1537 words - 6 pages Character Analysis of Lady Macbeth Act 1 Scene 7 begins with Macbeth’s soliloquy, in which he is exploring the moral and ethical turmoil in which he finds himself over the thought of committing the sacrilegious act of regicide. He scrutinizes the opposed perspectives of whether or not he should take Duncan’s life, providing him with immense power, however he is agitated by the repercussions of such an act. At the end

Changes of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

1029 words - 4 pages “My dearest partner of greatness” (I, v, 10) suggests to the reader or audience of the play Macbeth, that these two partners, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, worked together and truly believed in the greatness of their work. This is not so. Said here in a letter from Macbeth to Lady Macbeth telling her that the king is coming soon. There Macbeth truly feels that Lady Macbeth is his partner in all these truly great events. The letter shows us of

The Guilt of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

845 words - 3 pages The Guilt of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth Guilt is a very strong and uncomfortable feeling that often results from one’s own actions. This strong emotion is one of the theme ideas in William Shakespeare, “Macbeth”. Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth feel guilt, but they react in different ways. Guilt hardens Macbeth, but cause Lady Macbeth to commit suicide. As Macbeth shrives to success guilt overcome’s Macbeth where he can no longer think straight

Character Study of Lady Macbeth

1508 words - 6 pages Character Study of Lady Macbeth Lady Macbeth comes into the play in act 1 scene 5, when Lady Macbeth is reading the letter from Macbeth. Lady Macbeth fears that Macbeth’s heart “is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness”. She knows that her husband has is “not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it”. Lady Macbeth’s immediate response to the letter is the thought of killing the king. “Hie

Macbeth - Is Malcolm's assessment of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth justified?

1188 words - 5 pages In the play, 'Macbeth' by William Shakespeare, Malcolm refers to Macbeth as a "Butcher" and, Lady Macbeth as a "fiend-like queen". This is only true to an extent as although this assessment of their character would have made it easier to cope with the consequences of their actions their feelings finally overcame them. When Malcolm calls Macbeth a "butcher" then he is implying that Macbeth kills people without feeling and emotion as if it was a

A critical analysis of Lady Macbeth

589 words - 2 pages In the play Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, Lady Macbeth is a very persuasive person. She is greatly responsible for the killing of King Duncan. Lady Macbeth reveals her secret evil nature, which pushes her toward her evil doings. Once Lady Macbeth learns of Macbeth's prophecy regarding becoming king, she immediately convinces and persuades Macbeth into following her plan. At the end of the play, after the crimes have been committed, Lady

The demise of lady macbeth, in

1242 words - 5 pages In the play Macbeth, by WIlliam Shakespeare, Lady Macbeth is a women driven by love and ambition. In the beginning she appears to be vert tough; yet she weakens as Macbeth grows more foul in his deeds. Lady Macbeth is able to spurn her husband on his evil pursuit of becoming king, but she cannot handle the human feelings of guilt are remorse that go along with this act.It is because of Lady Macbeth's sly urgings that Macbeth acts on his evil

The Corruptive Power of Lady Macbeth

815 words - 3 pages The Corruptive Power of Lady Macbeth Women are underestimated in medieval and Elizabethan times. They are shown in a few works just how powerful, cunning, and intelligent they can be. In Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, it is said that what a woman’s true deepest desire is to have complete control over her husband. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Lady Macbeth has acquired this power and control that all women desire so much

The Audience's View of Lady Macbeth

2086 words - 8 pages The Audience's View of Lady Macbeth Macbeth focuses strongly around its two main characters, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Throughout, we see character development, as the changes in the plot have a direct impact on the characters. Macbeth is only a semi fictitious play. Shakespeare used a piece of Scottish history to base his play on, although many details were changed and developed. The character of Banquo was an

Similar Essays

Psychoanalytical Criticism Of Shakespeare’s Macbeth Essay

1654 words - 7 pages ? /When you durst do it, / Then you were a man; /And to be more than what you were, you would / Be so much more a man” (Mac. 1.7 52-56). Applying Lacan’s theory of metonymical language, Lady Macbeth cannot directly compel Macbeth to murder the king due to her place in Elizabethan society. As a result, she challenges Macbeth’s masculine role in society to achieve her own hidden desire of becoming queen. Lady Macbeth uses the authority of cultural

Psychoanalytical Criticism Of “Young Goodman Brown”

911 words - 4 pages Psychoanalytical criticism focuses on the characters, symbols, and images in a literary work to decipher meanings and to gain an insight into the mind of the author. The terminology used is typically Freudian, even though Freud has fallen into disfavor in the world of behavioral sciences. This current disaffection does not, however, invalidate psychoanalytical interpretation of many of the characters and situations that a writer may have

Character Of Lady Macbeth Essay

1008 words - 4 pages Character of Lady Macbeth.Or,Lady Macbeth's influence on Macbeth.Lady Macbeth is a character in Shakespeare's Macbeth (c.1603-1607). She is the wife to the play's protagonist, Macbeth, a Scottish nobleman. After goading him into committing regicide, she becomes Queen of Scotland, but later suffers pangs of guilt for her part in the crime. She dies off-stage in the last act, an apparent suicide.Lady Macbeth's influence on Macbeth is tremendous

Physcoanalysis Of Lady Macbeth

1472 words - 6 pages In Shakespeare’s historical play Macbeth the main leads wife, Lady Macbeth, displays major character development throughout the play. Lady Macbeth is seen transforming from a bold, fearless and cunning women, to a very scared, guilt ridden and psychotic women. At first, Lady Macbeth describes her husband’s nature as, "too full o the milk of human-kindness" for him to take any action that would result in him getting the power of King. Furthermore