19 Chapters
Medium 9781855754546

Chapter Six - “Father” and son: Prince Hal and Falstaff

Jacobs, Michael Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER SIX

“Father” and son: Prince Hal and Falstaff

While psychoanalytic writing has turned its attention many times to Shakespeare's plays, the history plays do not feature very obviously in the bibliographies of books, articles, and papers on characters and themes in the plays. The exceptions are Henry IV and the two Richards (II and III), although even in these instances the references are few. Perhaps that is because the history plays at first appear more a series tracing the dynastic struggles leading up to the Tudor monarchs.

The same relative paucity of interest applies also to the plays in performance. There are from time to time performances of the histories in sequence, and at one time Henry V attracted patriotic attention. But one of the more popular of the history plays remains Henry IV Part 1, perhaps for two reasons. The first is the inclusion in the cast of characters of Sir John Falstaff—a figure almost larger than life. Yet Sir John also appears in Henry IV Part 2, and in half the scenes. Nevertheless, Part 2 is performed less frequently and appears to have had less success even when it was written. The other ingredient that turns Part 1's dramatic history into a historical drama is the theme that runs through it of pretence, or of role-playing, even what the latest editor of the Arden edition calls “counterfeiting”. This is a reference in part to the motif of coinage that is a constant feature of the language of the play; but, even more so, counterfeiting refers to the fact that Henry IV has usurped the throne, that his son Prince Hal appears to deliberately associate with low life in order to appear all the grander when he becomes King and rises above it, as well as the pretence of Falstaff at the concluding battle of Shrewsbury.

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Chapter Seven - The Macbeths: a Childless Couple?

Jacobs, Michael Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER SEVEN

The Macbeths: a childless couple?

Father and daughter, father and son—these have been prominent themes in earlier chapters. Coming to Macbeth one of the major issues, at least as posited in psychoanalytic writing, is the principal characters' childlessness. Instead, it is often commented, the parent–child relationship is played out within the marriage of Macbeth and his wife.

This, for example, is the argument put forward by Hildebrand in a chapter titled “The Caledonian tragedy” (2006). Hildebrand chooses his title from one of several alternative names used in the theatre for Macbeth, since there is a superstition amongst actors that the actual name of Shakespeare's tragedy should never be spoken aloud in a theatre. Better known is the title “The Scottish Play”, although there are others that Hildebrand refers to, such as “Harry Lauder”, “That Play” or “The Unmentionable”. Citing material from a book on the play by Huggett (1981), Hildebrand refers to a history of disasters associated with the staging of the play: “theatres collapsing, actors falling ill, being injured in stage fights, running away, breaking down and actresses miscarrying” (Hildebrand, 2006, p. 44). Actors playing the leading roles are said to have died soon after the play opened and many productions have been associated with dreadful experiences for the cast. Because of the play's popularity, it was often thought that the company must be about to close when it was put on, because the management were trying to get the audience into the theatre to save the company from financial collapse. There have apparently been actual deaths in stage duels; and The Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford-on-Avon burned down in the 1930s on the night following a performance of Macbeth.

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CHAPTER FIVE: The therapist's revenge: the law of talion as a motive for caring

Jacobs, Michael Karnac Books ePub

It is almost customary for therapists who write to thank their patients or clients—and rightly so, since the most stimulating learning (which with adaptation is often transferable to other client work) comes from insights or ideas that emerge in the material that clients bring to therapy. This paper was one such, solely brought to life by the case example of Brenda (not, of course, the client's name, although the details are factual). Brenda provided another example that I was able to use in teaching and in a different book, although one that taught me to take greater care in disguising client material so that even the client herself could not recognize it. I will say no more, except to say I was very grateful to a co-therapist who handled that situation so well that Brenda and I emerged on good terms. It was my mistake, but I wonder whether there was a type of revenge in the incident. On my part, of course, for being in debt to her for the idea she planted and that bore fruit in what at the time seemed (and perhaps is) original.

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Chapter Five - Part-objects: Prospero and Caliban

Jacobs, Michael Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER FIVE

Part-objects: Prospero and Caliban

There are a number of obvious links between King Lear and The Tempest, such as the storm scenes in King Lear and the storm that opens The Tempest, as well as that by now familiar theme, the relationship between father and daughter. There is even a hint of harshness in the relationship between Prospero and his daughter Miranda, although this is, of course, muted in comparison to Lear and Cordelia. But many of these images or themes are common ones, not only seen elsewhere in the Shakespearean canon, but in other literature as well. Some have speculated that the father–daughter relationship that runs through all the late plays might be linked to Shakespeare's own relationship to one or both of his daughters, Susanna and Judith. Because we know so little about the author, it is a brave person who would dare to assert any definite link between his life and the literature he produced. Psychoanalytic treatment of Shakespeare is often speculative, as will be seen in some of the references in this chapter. For example, in placing King Lear in the previous chapter and The Tempest following it, this might appear to reinforce the theory put forward by Ella Freeman Sharpe in 1946, when she suggests that the sequence of the several plays from King Lear through to The Tempest portrays a shift in Shakespeare's own mind from rage and despair in the tragedies through to resolution in The Tempest It is, of course, an interesting theory, but it is perhaps rather too neat to detain us for long. Nevertheless, other early twentieth–century critics have interpreted The Tempest as about reconciliation, and as a play that transcends the painfulness of the series of tragedies that dominates the final phase of Shakespeare's writing (Sokol, 1995, p. 183).

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CHAPTER SEVEN: Seeing and being seen

Jacobs, Michael Karnac Books ePub

This chapter was originally a lecture delivered at the request of the Bath Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy, at a time when I was their external moderator. Subsequently, I was made an emeritus life member, and have valued the link with that prestigious training centre. The subject was requested, and like all such requests, entailed some research into the literature on what emerged as a fascinating topic. It subsequently appeared as an article in the European Journal of Psychotherapy, Counselling and Health. I delivered the paper to one or two other groups, and, like all such occasions in my experience, generated interesting conversations afterwards that added considerably to my own understanding of the subject. As acknowledged in the original paper when published, I am grateful to Ruth Jones, a registered art therapist, for permission to use her observations and analysis of the stages of seeing and being seen, and to colleagues and supervisees for permission to use examples from their practice.

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