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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: February ::
Re: Psycho Macbeth
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0139.  Monday, 21 February 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Brian Pedaci <
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        Date:   Sunday, 20 Feb 94 18:34:56 -0500
        Subj:   re: SHK 5.0133  Psycho Macbeth
 
(2)     From:   James McKenna <MCKENNJI@UCBEH>
        Date:   Sunday, 20 Feb 1994 19:39:48 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   macpsychbeth redux
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Pedaci <
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Date:           Sunday, 20 Feb 94 18:34:56 -0500
Subject: 5.0133  Psycho Macbeth
Comment:        re: SHK 5.0133  Psycho Macbeth
 
Just to throw another monkey wrench into the works, does anyone else find
it problematical to assume that modern psychoanalytic diagnoses are counter
to Shakespeare's wishes when he casts a great many of them under the
influence of "humors" which are beyond their control?  How does an
Elizabethan understanding of melancholy correspond to a modern diagnosis of
depression?  Or choler and, say, sociopathic behavior?  I do not presume to
know enough to make the connections, but it seems a worthy consideration
when dealing with the question of Elizabethan psyches...
 
--Brian Pedaci
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James McKenna <MCKENNJI@UCBEH>
Date:           Sunday, 20 Feb 1994 19:39:48 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        macpsychbeth redux
 
Okay, right.  Serial murderers are horrifying; I erred to imply that they were
not.  I meant, though, that thinking Macbeth a psychotic reduces our idea of
horror in the world to the belief that it is something that psychotics do, not
what ordinary people do when circumstances are right--or very, very wrong.
 
Yes, Dr. Godshalk, Macbeth and Banquo are different men, and it is unlikely
that Banquo would have gone Macbeth's road--for the reasons you specified.  It
is the mechanics of the mind that I am concerned with, though, and I think the
text presses us to see that evil is not just evil men with evil thoughts.  It
is the thoughts that many--all--of us have taking root in a mind and being
acted out. Hence Lady Macbeth's incitement.
 
Yes, Macbeth seems fond of legal killing and his murder spree is only a change
of venue.  But, again, perhaps we can avoid the psychotic approach by
recognizing that soldiering is still an honored profession, despite all our
pacifistic posturing.  We continue to train millions of men to murder in
one set of circumstances, and we then hope they behave civilly in others.  Is
Macbeth one of those who became confused?
 
My point overall is to keep Macbeth solidly in the realm of common experience,
so that his destruction does not drift toward becoming a macabre decoration.
 
Yours till the hurly-burly's done,
 
James McKenna
mckennji@ucbeh.bitnet
 

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