This article explores the psychological underpinnings of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” from a Jungian view. Carl Jung left a great deal of ambiguity surrounding his work. He understood, as long as there have been men and they have lived, they have all felt this tragic ambiguity and everybody must accept his or her “Shadow” during the individuation process. Ambiguity between good an evil, and a failed individuation is the core theme in the tragedy Macbeth: “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” say the three witches in the beginning of the play and this paradox is touched again by Macbeth: “So foul and fair a day I have not seen”. The enemy and death is “foul” – bad – but the outcome of the battle is “fair” – good, only because he has won.So the play Macbeth is about the evil, but as we see mostly the evil in us, and this evil is first impersonated by the witches. That is…
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In his masterpiece The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien created what he called a “new mythos”. There is undoubtedly much in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings that invites us seeing it through the Jungian framework. However, on a closer look, comparatively few archetypes are present, and the main protagonist’s (Frodo’s) individuation arguably fails. A Jungian view must offer more than “In a fairy land lived a halfling who, together with some helper-figures, became a wiser and individuated hobbit’. On the first glance (and even on the second) Frodo listens more to his shadow than to his Anima – if he has an own Anima at all.
Now, how do we avoid the “If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail“, problem? By systematically testing elements in the Jungian framework on its applicability to the Lord of the Ring and comparing the results with similar elements in Richards Wagner “Ring Cycle”…
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