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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: April ::
Re: JC and Psychoanalysis
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0948  Thursday, 26 April 2001

From:           Yvonne Bruce <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 Apr 2001 12:05:00 -0400
Subject: JC and Psychoanalysis
Comment:        SHK 12.0900 JC and Psychoanalysis

I suggest you try Coppelia Kahn's _Roman Shakespeare: Warriors, Wounds,
and Women_ (1997 or 1998; I can't remember which). She discusses the
psychoanalytic significance of Portia's thigh-wound. Even if you don't
find her argument convincing or comprehensive enough, there's plenty to
like in the work as a whole and, of course, her bibliography will prove
helpful, because Portia's stabbing has been treated at some length in
the past.

I find this a very interesting question for a reason that goes back to a
recent discussion on the listserv: the comparative sexlessness of _JC_
.  I think it is the least "sexed" of all the plays, which may be the
reason there is a dearth of psychoanalytic criticism for it. The only
remotely sexual overtones or reverberations in the play come from the
Portia/Brutus scene, perhaps; certainly there is nothing erotic/oedipal
between Caesar and Calpurnia. Does anyone disagree? Does anyone,
perhaps, see a sexual tension in Caesar's asking Antony to cure
Calpurnia's childlessness? I certainly don't, nor do I catch the
slightest erotic overtones to the male relations in the play, a very odd
omission for Shakespeare. I have my own theories about why he does this
(they came up in a much earlier discussion), but the omission itself is
noteworthy. You know, the discussion lately has centered on _M of V_ and
Antonio's "problems": is he alluding to pregnancy, is he homosexual,
etc. etc. Not only do these questions come up in _M of V_, I think,
because of the money--sex--excrement links the structuralists and
post-structuralists have made clear to us, but simply because it is
nearly impossible to create a well-defined character without reference
to his or her sexuality in at least one of its guises or manifestations
or sublimations. I simply cannot think of a significant character in
Shakespeare who does not have a sexual component to his character (even
if is Antonio's emasculated "tainted wether" kind) And yet, Shakespeare
very nearly eliminates sexuality from _JC_.

Any thoughts?

Yvonne Bruce

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