Shakespeare’s Identities: Psychological, Mythic, and Existentialist Perspectives


Driscoll, James P., Ph.D.


Author of Shakespeare and Jung – The God in Time

No dramatist has treated identity in as many ways and in such depth as William Shakespeare. In Shakespeare’s Identities, James P. Driscoll shows how the Bard used history, comedy, tragedy, and romance to develop comprehensive treatments of personal identity.

Driscoll’s innovative study examines four aspects of identity: the conscious, social, real, and ideal. Drawing on Jungian psychoanalysis, Driscoll explores how Shakespeare’s plays dramatize a crucial need for self-knowledge and foreshadow larger identity issues. Sexual identity and the archetype of the outcast provide new perspectives on The Merchant of Venice. Hamlet’s quest for self-knowledge mirrors parallel quests that Jung found mythic heroes pursuing. Iago shrewdly exploits Othello’s racial outcast status and confused conscious and social identities to convince him that Desdemona’s real identity has changed. In Twelfth Night, as in the other romantic comedies, family, relationships, love, friendship, imagination, disguise, and time and place all shape identity. Measure for Measure is a profoundly political drama showing the interdependence of love and knowledge in the quest to understand real identity and achieve ideal identity. King Lear treats identity both archetypally and realistically to create a uniquely powerful tragic vision of the self and divinity.

From Falstaff to Shylock, Hamlet, Othello, Iago, Lear, and Prospero Driscoll offers original insights and perspectives on Shakespeare’s most fascinating characters. This new volume will hold great interest for students of Shakespeare and all English literature, along with all those concerned with the enduring issues of identity.

English Literature, World Literature, Literary Criticism, Drama, Identity Studies, Philosophy, Psychology, Psychiatry, Shakespeare, Carl Jung, Psychology, Civilization Studies, Myth, Character Analysis, Existentialism
Release Date: 
December 20, 2019
978-1680532104 Hardcover
Trim Size: 

1727 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 507
Washington, DC 20036