The Famous Analyses of Henry the Fourth

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David Willbern, State University of New York, Buffalo

One of the earliest criticisms of Shakespearean character is Maurice Morgann's well-known but rarely read "Essay on the Dramatic Character of Sir John Falstaff," published in London in 1777 as a bold defense of the corpulent and witty knight against the charge of cowardice.1 Morgann assumed that Shakespeare's characters were like people and that Falstaff was like an historical person, with a history and an inner life that corresponded to common human nature, which he termed "certain first principles of character," and who therefore could be understood and judged through the critic's emotional responses to that nature, which he called "mental Impressions" as opposed to rational "Understanding." Since then both Falstaff and his fellow sportsman, Prince Hal, have attracted scrutiny from traditional character critics like A.C. Bradley, L.L. Schucking, and J.I.M. Stewart, and psychoanalytic critics like Ernst Kris.2 My plan in this chapter is less to review various analyses of characters in Henry IV, Part One than to sketch categories of psychoanalytic interpretive strategies that have been deployed in the effort, and then to consider the large issue of psychological versus (new) historical or cultural approaches.3 I find four major categories of psychoanalytic explication: (1) structural, (2) oedipal, (3) pre-oedipal or object-relational, and (4) linguistic or semiotic.

The first, or structural view, is an early approach that considers the play as a kind of intrapsychic allegory, analogous to medieval psychomachia. The Freudian model of id/ego/superego can be mapped onto characters in the play, roughly as follows: The id is represented (or symbolized, in this terminology) by Falstaff and Hotspur, figures of unrestrained appetite and uninhibited reaction. The superego is symbolized by King Henry as a judgmental, restrictive father, the basis for an internal imago or ego-ideal based on an introjected paternal image. The King's rebukes sound early in the play and are echoed in Prince Hal's famous soliloquy, "I know you all . . . ," in Act One (I.2.195-217), a rationalizing monologue that presents self-rebuke as self-justification, promising future reformation and reconciliation with the father. The ego is embodied by Prince Hal, the gradually heroic son who learns to mediate among the demands of impulse, restraint, and his various social worlds (tavern, court, battlefield).

Within this structural design, the psychological progress of the play can be seen to enact a gradual working-through and accommodation of id and superego to the framework of the ego; it is, by this design, a process of maturation. This progress occurs over the course of the play, but the interplay of the three elements or agencies can be seen in the initial tavern scene (I.2), where Hal plays at being Falstaff, then announces in soliloquy that he knows better and rebukes the "unyok'd humor" of his friends.4

Such a psychoanalytic reconfiguration may seem oldfashioned and allegorical, relying on Latinate Freudian terms that, after these many years, creak when flexed, and unexamined assumptions about symbolism and dramatic representation. Still, a benefit of this style of reading is that it is pre-characterological, that is, it does not get caught up in personality-analyses of those reified linguistic complexes conventionally identified as "characters." In some ways this primitive mode of psychoanalytic reading is close to more recent methods that will be addressed later.

The second, or oedipal view focuses on the various father-son conflicts in the play, primarily re-enacted in terms of King Henry's initial wish to replace Hal with Hotspur (I.1.85-89) and Hal's rejection of his filial role and his symbolic replacement of King Henry with Falstaff. The primal scene of these reversals is the...

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role-playing in the tavern (2.4), where Hal dethrones the King and repudiates Falstaff. These oedipal displacements turn the father into a comic scape-goat figure who is eventually sacrificed (Falstaff), while the figure of the rebellious son is displaced onto a character (Hotspur) who is sacrificed for the sake of resolution of conflict and the reunion of father and son, dramatized at the end of1 Henry IV by Prince Hal fighting with and for the King, and at the end of 2 Henry IV by Prince Hal becoming King and banishing Falstaff.5

The oedipal reading is dramatically privileged by the play, and made manifest at least in terms of contests between fathers and sons. Through a series of rivalries, alliances, and victories, a proper new balance or filiation is achieved, so that Hal can attain the position of prince as support for his father before he eventually succeeds him. The success of the oedipal project, in short, culminates in a relatively untroubled succession. However, just as the structural reading reasonably assumes the virtue of psychic coherence and mature development, I suggest that most conventional readings of Hal's glorious progress toward heroic monarchy in Henry V are fueled by an unexamined complicity in the oedipal project that the plays dramatize. We can largely thank feminist readers, as well as psychoanalytic critics—such as C. L. Barber, Coppélla Kahn, Richard Wheeler, and Peter Erickson—for helping to de-idealize this unacknowledged masculine identification.

The third, pre-oedipal or object-relational interpretive strategy considers the play's primary dyad of Hal-Falstaff as reconfiguring a more intimate familial bond than father-son, that is, the mother-child relation. As many critics have noted, 1 Henry IV is notably without effective female presences. There are no manifest mothers, and wives are either mute (Mortimer and his Welsh wife share no language)6 or muted (see Hotspur's playful yet cruel neglect of Kate). Mistress Quickly is subordinate to Falstaff, who plays both host and guest. It is Falstaff, virtually, who assumes the maternal role, becoming an all-providing source of food, fun, discourse, and self-reflection. He is an androgynous, magical figure, a hall of mirrors for Hal to play in. Falstaff s relation to his world is basically childish; he seeks instant gratification for primitive impulses like eating, drinking, and sleeping. One way to imagine the character is as a big infant (although wondrously precocious in speech) who focuses solely on the sources of his own pleasure (primarily oral—his next cup of sack) or on opportunities to display his magnificent narcissism.7

Hal's fondness for the world of Falstaff and the tavern hence represents a wish to reconstitute a simpler, basic bond of mother and child, wherein each mirrors the other. Falstaff is a buffer between Hal and the world, a wall of flesh that encloses him from the demands of harsh reality. W. H. Auden describes Falstaff as a presocial being, whose rotundity brings together mother and child and is therefore fantastically self-sufficient.8 Hal's rejection of Falstaff thus becomes a rejection of the seductions of childishness, the irresponsibilities of narcissism and instant gratification. Hal grows up by growing beyond the child within himself. The repudiation, however, is only superficial. Hal incorporates his relation to Falstaff, so that, as Wheeler puts it, "Falstaff sustains Hal at a deep level comparable to the power of dreaming to keep intact the essential knowledge of the infantile past."9

In an important new analysis of the figure of Falstaff, Valerie Traub deepens and extends previous psychoanalytic criticism of the Hal-Falstaff dyad to include "a projected fantasy of the pre-oedipal maternal whose rejection is the basis upon which patriarchal subjectivity is predicated." Using Bakhtin's idea of the grotesque, carnivalesque body, and precise textual details, she refashions "Falstaff in terms of the female reproductive body and suggests similarities between his magical language and Kristeva's "semiotic." Traub's analysis also extends the social realm of the play—its symbolic politics—beyond evident issues of adult masculine rivalry and succession and into questions of the repression of infantile connections to maternal dependence.10

Combining the oedipal and object-relational approaches produces a view of the character of Falstaff as a fantastic, substitute, familial environment: brother, father, child, and mother. The tavern then becomes a playground of wishes (and fears) within which Hal can enact various fantasies (of stealing, killing, lying) and styles of being (controlling, submitting, pretending). It is an arena of innocent acts, a safehouse, or playhouse, that offers refuge from the dangerous and bloody world of civil war that surrounds it. The opening lines of the play characterize this world:

No more the thirsty entrance of this soil Shall daub her lips with her own children's blood. No more shall trenching war channel her fields, Nor bruise her flow'rets with the armed hoofs Of hostile paces.


The image of a devouring and abused maternal figure is thus evoked at the start of the play, but only through denial: "No more. . . ." The insistent absence of manifest female power in I Henry IV and throughout the second tetralogy is telling. These opening lines hark back to sanctioned images of a maternal England from Richard II (for instance, Gaunt's nostalgic evocation of "this blessed plot, . . . this teeming womb of royal kings / Fear'd by their breed and famous by their birth" [2.1.40 ft]). The appropriation of a benign, creative version of this ground by Falstaff permits Hal a magical playspace within which he can marginally encounter but largely bypass the world of women, as Kahn has noted.11 In I Henry IV this world is either repressed or fantastically transformed; but what is repressed will return. Hamlet is the most significant site of this return of repressed femininity, yet it is suggested at the end of this play, as I will show.

The fourth, linguistic or semiotic approach focuses on the question of identification as a mode of human development. Psychologically and socially, the ways we represent ourselves publicly are learned in the context of primary childhood identifications within our families. As small but telling examples, consider personal vocal intonation, or handwriting. Our voices mimic those we hear; our handwriting is unique yet derivative, based on imitating parents, teachers, and other ego ideals. In handwriting each of us can see the singular sign of our individuality—it legally identifies us—that also carries indelible traces of its sources.12 The linguistic approach thus resituates the structural, since Hal's project is to move among various identifications—with Falstaff, Hotspur, and Henry—and to select aspects of each that he can amalgamate in order eventually to define himself as "the true prince." It also resituates the oedipal, since identification has ambivalent motives: (1) becoming like (liking), and (2) taking over (incorporating, replacing).13

These examples of voice and handwriting are overdetermined, for Shakespeare portrays the process of identification in I Henry IV literally in linguistic terms, that is, in terms of the rhetorical styles of his central characters. Prince Hal is expert at imitating the terms and tropes of Falstaff and Hotspur, and later the King. When he arrives in the play, he speaks the language of Falstaff as well as that character himself. Rhetorically, the first "Falstaff in the play is performed by the Prince.

Falstaff. Now, Hal, what time of day is it, lad? Prince. Thou art so fat-witted with drinking of old sack, and unbuttoning thee after supper, and sleeping upon benches after noon, that thou hast forgotten to demand that truly thou wouldest truly know. What a devil hast thou to do with the time of the day? unless hours were cups of sack, and minutes capons, and clocks the tongues of bawds, and dials the signs of leaping-houses, and the blessed sun himself a fair hot wench in flame-color'd taffata; I see no reason why thou shouldst be so superfluous as to demand the time of the day.


This linguistic mimesis is exact in terms of comparisons and metaphors, but it is identification with a difference. Hal's insistence on the passage of time, his criticism of Falstaff s habits (he simultaneously expands and deflates the character as delimited by the pleasure principle), and the pun in "blessed sun" all point to his later repudiation of both style and character.

Hal similarly mimics and places Hotspur in his brief foray into an imitation of that character:

I am not yet of Percy's mind, the Hotspur of the north, he that kills me some six or seven dozen of Scots at a breakfast, washes his hands, and says to his wife, "Fie upon this quiet life! I want work." "O my sweet Harry," says she, "how many hast thou kill'd today?" "Give my roan horse a drench," says he, and answers, "Some fourteen," an hour after, "a trifle, a trifle."


This parody is in prose, perhaps because Hal's own verse will need the tropes of ambition and bravery when he achieves the princely goal. But Hal catches Hotspur's unrealistic fantasies of simplistic aggression, his need (like Falstaff) for an appreciative audience, and his tendency to think about his horse when responding to his wife (see 2.3.89-102).

Falstaff and Hotspur are exemplary stylists of one figure of speech, hyperbole. Hotspur is an hyperbolist of linear ambition, an overreacher; Falstaff is an hyperbolist of all-inclusive rotundity and comparison. Hotspur drives aggressively at his topic with figures; Falstaff surrounds it with similes. Hotspur seems to be pursuing some grandiose heroic identity; Falstaff is instantly ready to re-compose his descriptions of himself in terms of some other person, thing, or possibility. To use a mythological parallel, Hotspur has Mercury's speed, Falstaff his mutability.14

The most poignant instance of Hal's mimetic appropriation of his rival's language is at the moment of Hotspur's death, when Hal literally completes his last line: "No, Percy," Hotspur says to himself, "thou are dust, / And food for—/ For worms, brave Percy," Hal continues. "Fare thee well, great heart" (4.4.85-87). The moment merges two styles of identification: affection and aggression, sharing and taking. Hal takes Hotspur's last breath and substitutes his own in order to speak Hotspur's last word, an honorable theft that authentically replaces what was taken ("worms" is surely the word Hotspur would have said; the trajectory of thought and language requires it).

In a word, Hal's project in the play is to find, take, or make his own language—or more precisely that language with which he can identify in such a way as to become "the true prince." The most dramatic moment of this discovery or production is the scene of Hal's magnanimous and mature speeches over the fallen bodies of Hotspur and Falstaff on the battlefield. Here is the inception of his own "authentic" discourse, his "winning of his own" (the final line of the play) in language.15 Before this dramatic moment, however, Hal enters another register of language at the begining of Act Five, when King and Prince cooperate to produce a verse description of the new day:

King. How bloodily the sun begins to peer Above yon bulky hill! the day looks pale At his distemp'rature.Prince. The southren wind Doth play the trumpet to his purposes, And by his hollow whistling in the leaves Foretells a tempest and a blust'ring day.King. Then with the losers let it sympathize, For nothing can seem foul to those that win.


This shared poetic construct (the two voices co-produce line three) is a linguistic emblem of what Kahn calls the "reciprocal validation of each other as father and son, king and prince."16 The validation is tempered, however, by Erickson's inference that "neither father nor son can securely know exactly who the other is because of his theatrical sense of himself."17 This little poem-within-the-play thus serves well as an indicator of characters (both Henry's and Hal's) and climactic evidence of Hal's achievement of the language of a prince, properly subservient to his father. The lines echo beyond character, however, and beyond the dramatic moment into the domain of the play of language. Psychoanalytic attention should disclose these echoes. The rhetorical set-piece description of the dawning of day on the battlefield coalesces at least two central themes: the manifest theme of oedipal resolution and emerging harmony between father and son, and the latent theme of repressed relations with a maternal image.

King Henry opens the set-piece with a regal observation: "How bloodily the sun begins to peer / Above yon bulky hill! The day looks pale / At his distemp'rature." The King's conventional identification with the sun, the royal eye of day, extends to his projection of his own anger into the hot blood of the dawn's distemperature. Prince Hal joins in, literally in mid-line, to accompany the paternal observation. His forecast deflates the royal appearance of the sun by shifting the trumpet of regal annunciation to "hollow whistling," and his imagery also suggests the question of his own heroic actions to come. Will he "play the trumpet" to his father's purposes, or whistle in the leaves (perhaps with Falstaff)? King Henry ignores any subtleties in Hal's comment, however, and closes the speech with a conventional battlefield homily about the blessings of victors.

This moment of masculine martial harmony occurs on the site of another scene, the literal ground of authority on which the staging of masculine conflicts and resolutions will occur. Typically, a Shakespearean pun discloses this scene. The appearance of the bloody "sun/son" above the "bulky hill" echoes Hal's previous description of himself (to Henry) "wearing a garment all of blood":

I will redeem all this on Percy's head. And in the closing of some glorious day Be bold to tell you that I am your son. When I will wear a garment all of blood, And stain my favors in a bloody mask, Which wash'd away shall scour my shame with it. And that shall be the day, when e'er it lights, That this same child of honor and renown, This gallant Hotspur . . .


As Watson and Traub have noted, this imagery promises a magical regeneration of the Prince through a fantasy of birth. Watson situates the moment in a series of autochthonous Caesarean births of the hero, including Glendower, Richard III, Macbeth, and Coriolanus. Traub notes that the fantasy provides the newborn son with a bloody baptism that washes away any maternal connection, so that Hal becomes "his father's son and his nation's hero."18 One motivation for this fantasy of masculine birth and its implicit rejection of maternity lies in previous metaphoric evocations of violent mother-child interactions (as Watson notes): "No more the thirsty entrance of this soil / Shall daub her lips with her own children's blood. ... " Yet the new day that Hal prophesies (the dawn of the bloody sun) rises over this same ground of maternal presence and power. The very ground of masculine authority, then, the "bulky hill" whose soil will once again "daub her lips with her own children's blood" in the ensuing battle, adumbrates the ubiquitous yet invisible primordial female presence in the play, a type of mons martialis (whose dangerous confusion of sexes may reciprocate Falstaff s comic version of androgyny). Against the notice of evident feminine/maternal absence in I Henry IV, then, can be placed the deeper observation that the maternal ground is both nowhere and everywhere.19 As Janet Adelman puts it, in a distillation of her theory of Shakespearean tragic ambivalence:

The problematic maternal body can never quite be occluded or transformed: made into a monster or a saint, killed off or banished from the stage, it remains at the center of masculine subjectivity, marking its unstable origin. For the contaminated flesh of the maternal body is also home: the home Shakespeare's protagonists long to return to, the home they can never quite escape.20

Shakespeare's dramatization in Henry IV, Part One of the linguistic production of masculine styles of speech and action provokes useful questions in terms of contemporary theories of the historical origins and psychological structure of identity. Masculine identity as displayed in this play enacts itself generally through contest and cooperation among men, and particularly through careful linguistic identifications. Hal finds and situates himself through sequential identifications with Falstaff, Hotspur, and King Henry; he knows them all. Yet the climactic identification with the father that apparently culminates and completes heroic masculine identity occurs on the site of a repression—the buried relation to the mother, the bulky hill that supports the sport of heroes.

Theoretical Interlude

This dramatic moment in I Henry IV impinges on a central question in current psychoanalytic theory. Does primary identity emerge from a series of linguistic identifications whose continual repetition it requires in order to maintain or re-create itself? Or does identity rest on the solid, repressed ground of a preverbal relation? Is identity primarily theatrical, whereby we each play the trumpet to an other's purpose, or is it genuine, the expression of a self from which we truly proceed? Is the self a series of defensive poses, temporary enactments within particular social contexts, a dramatis persona we maintain from one discontinuous moment to another? Or is there a core "true self from which we speak, write, act, and otherwise present ourselves?

Such a self recuperates a primitive connection to a matrix of identity—the mother-infant relation as felt and learned in early childhood. We are approaching, from other angles, the primary question of Hamlet's "thai within," in terms of psychoanalytic theories of the origins of ego, self, subject, or (for lack of a better term) character.

At this point I will embark on a brief theoretical interlude, to define terms and to fashion the argument. This interlude is relevant to Shakespeare's plays only if one supposes that mimesis, identification, and representation—in terms of language and performed behavior—are relevant to the plays, or if one considers that the question of Hamlet's "that within" might be clarified by psychological concepts.

Very briefly, let me rehearse some general psychoanalytic ideas about human development. Over time, and uniquely for the human animal this is a very extended time, the interaction of innate psychobiological processes (similar to the species but unique to the individual)—call it nature—and social modes of caretaking (similar to the culture but unique to the individual caretaker)—call it nurture—produces patterns of behavior that form the characteristic blueprint of the person, her or his "character." These characteristic patterns inform psychic and emotional structure, unconsciously. As we grow, experience, and learn, we retain images, memories, and styles—not simply out of who we are "inside" or from whom we encounter "outside"—but from the interactions of inside and outside. These internalized representations of relationships form a template that informs how we feel, think, speak, and act. The primary dispute in current post-Freudian theory is between those who think that this internal template of unconscious identifications is grounded in a core emotional relation (the infant-mother dyad of object-relations) and those who think that the template is a distorting mirror of imaginary identifications (Lacanian psychoanalysis).

A brief sketch of key terms will be useful here: the Freudian ego, the object-relational self, and the Lacanian subject. As Freud described it in The Ego and the Id (1923), the ego is a boundary concept, a "frontier creature," analogous to the skin.21 As such it is a managing agent or interface between internal energies (somatic events, affects) and external reality. In its defensive modes it may seek withdrawal or magical modification of stimuli, but its goal is the integration of outside and inside in a manageable synthesis. In the gradual development of such boundary maintenance, a perceptible and negotiable difference between inside and outside, "me" and "not-me," self and object world, is produced. The ego is the agent or process of this negotiation. Object-relations theory extends this basic Freudian idea of boundaries into a notion of the relational self as a style of managing needs, demands, and wishes in the context of an other person (mother) or environment (family, society). Over the course of time, a history of internal relations is experienced, practiced, and established, which produces an idiomatic, individual epistemology, in terms of the environment the person comes to expect. As Christopher Bollas puts it: "The concept of self should refer to the positions or points of view from which and through which we sense, feel, observe and reflect on distinct and separate experiences in our being. One crucial point-of-view comes from the other who experiences us."22 For Lacan, as I understand him, the impingement of the other's perspective is structurally less benign. (Of course there is plenty of room in the object-relations model for malign impingement and a distorted self, but this would be categorized as pathology.) The Lacanian subject is already a pun: both active, thinking agent (though this may be an illusion) and passive victim of domination. Rather than relating across a negotiated distance or absence, the Lacanian subject is faced with a primordial lack, gap, or division from an aboriginal unity ("the imaginary"). The basic organization of the subject is in terms of alienation.23

These various concepts, interrelated as they seem, are significantly different. For an object-relations theorist like D.W. Winnicott, an identity of temporary, serial identifications is a skeptical self, a compliant and canny structure of defenses—what he calls a "false self system." It is very like the Lacanian subject, generated by slippery language, constructing an illusory context of relations against a shifting background of irrecoverable loss. As for the ego, that for Lacan is "the sum of the identifications of the subject . . . like the superim-position of various coats borrowed from .. . the brica-brac of its props department."24 The identity that connects to an inner core self, unconscious, expressing a consistent and coherent idiom of being, presents another kind of subject, constructed by object-relations theorists like Winnicott. Lacanians view this self as a nostalgic fiction, a wish and a defense. Winnicottians see it as a ground of being.

The psychological argument, I believe, may be haunted by theology. For the idea of a "true self" is like an article of faith—a residue of the Christian theology of presence, a type of psychic Holy Spirit within that relates to a Madonna-like internalized object.25 Stripped of its adjectival ethic of "true" and "false," Winnicott's ideas of the production of self through a history of repeated transactions with the world (initially the maternal matrix) could be refashioned in other terms, such as "active" or "passive," "aggressive" or "submissive," "managing" or "accommodating." Such modifiers indicate a style of relationship, not a quality of self. By contrast, if the Winnicottian true self is a residue of Christian fictions—an angel in the psyche—then the Lacanian subject is a piece of the devil's work, made of lies and illusions, forever alienated, fragmented, faced with phantoms and lack. Where Winnicott inscribes a Madonna at the source, Lacan reiterates the expulsion from the garden, under the nom du père. Between these rival caricatures of theories about the origins of identity, choice is problematic. Shall we be naive or cynical, embraced or estranged, saved or damned? Is there no middle ground?

I think there is. The philosopher and psychoanalyst Heinz Lichtenstein has developed a theory of identity that provides crucial intermediate concepts. Briefly, Lichtenstein theorizes an instrumental primary identity, generated through iterative behaviors and emotions, that connects an individual to his or her (maternal) environment in functional terms.26 We learn how to be for an other; we identify with the (unconscious) desires of the other for us. This primary identification is mimetic in the Winnicottian sense (the recursive mirroring of the mother), and it is derivative in the Lacanian sense (the Desire of the Other). Lichtenstein writes about "the mirroring quality of the infant's sensory responsiveness to the mother's libidinal attachment":

This mirroring cannot, of course, be understood in terms of any visual perception, but a reflection through touch, smell, and other primitive sensations. What is dimly emerging in this mirror is, at least in the beginning, not a primary love object, but the outlines of the child's own image as reflected by the mother's unconscious needs with regard to the child. In this first, archaic mirroring experience of the child a primary identity emerges which may be called narcissistic. It is not as yet a sense of identity, for that presupposes consciousness. I see in it rather a primary organizational principle without which the process of developmental differentiation could not begin.

The mother, in contrast to the nonhuman environment, reflects back to the child a configuration of its own presence. I have suggested... that this primary identity has the form of an identity theme, i.e., the specific reflection received from the mother conveys to the child a primary identity defined as instrumentality in relation to the mother.27

The idea of identity as a belated reflection of an original source achieves splendid evocation in Wallace Stevens's poem, "Description Without Place," which is in my view a precocious postmodern gloss on Hamlet's remarks about seeming and being as well as a poetic illustration of psychoanalytic theories of identity and language.28 The poem is difficult, and relies on contemporary science (solar position and energy) and philosophy (being and consciousness). It begins by sidestepping Hamlet's paralyzing quandary about the unbridgeable difference between seeming and being.

It is possible that to seem—it is to be, As the sun is something seeming and it is. The sun is an example. What it seems It is and in such seeming all things are.


After thus setting a stellar scene of projected and reflected reality, Stevens personifies the agent of reflective energy as "a queen that made it seem / By the illustrious nothing of her name."

Her green mind made the world around her green. The queen is an example . . . This green queen In the seeming of the summer of her sun By her own seeming made the summer change. In the golden vacancy she came, and comes, And seems to be on the saying of her name.


Later in the poem influential noms du père—like Nietzsche and Lenin—figure prominently. Initially, however, the source of being and seeming (or their coincidence) is this archaic (m)other who comes on call, literally corresponding to the speaking agent who calls. In the full ambiguity of the term, she appears. "Such seemings are the actual ones," the poem continues (17). Even "if seeming is description without place," "it is a sense / To which we refer experience, a knowledge / Incognito"; "it is an expectation, a desire" (99-107). We construct and experience the reality of our lives in terms of this earliest reflection, which is not precisely ourselves nor an illusory replica.

Description is revelation. It is not The thing described, nor false facsimile. It is an artificial thing that exists In its own seeming, plainly visible, Yet not too closely the double of our lives, Intenser than any actual life could be, A text we should be born that we might read, More explicit than the experience of sun And moon, the book of reconciliation, Book of a concept only possible In description, canon central in itself, The thesis of the plentifullest John.


As this penultimate section makes clear, Stevens is writing about the human experience of living a life mediated through language, a language that exists before us and that we learn as new ("a text we should be born that we might read"). Language enables description, a conscious awareness and articulation that intensifies the natural, sensory phenomena of "actual life." The poem ends with a section that praises the particular nature of language ("men make themselves their speech" [139]) while it simultaneously returns human invention to its natural origin: language or description must "be alive with its own seemings, seeming to be / Like rubies reddened by rubies reddening" (151-52). If being is natural existence ("actual life"), then seeming is consciousness of that existence. Paradoxically, until we seem we cannot fully realize being. Seeming is selfreflection, a secondary enlightenment that mirrors the archaic dawn of existence, in which we are held, warmed, and shown "in the golden vacancy" of an archaic maternal matrix. In the final lines of Stevens's poem, the quintessential human verb (to be) is reabsorbed into the lustrous reflections of visual similitude and acoustic rhyme (rubies). Are rubies red, or do they only seem to be so within the spectrum of visible light that human eyes require? Absent such light their redness vanishes, but so too does our sight. The redness of rubies is hence a blend of seeming and being, "as the sun is something seeming and it is." Without the primal lux that shows us the world, we cannot see it. Without the archaic (m)other that originally describes our place in the world, we cannot experience it as a coherent self.

Hamlet dramatizes the problems of being and seeming from at least two perspectives. From one view the hero is apparently paralyzed by his perception of an unbridgeable gulf between inner self and external representation, and from another he leaps that gulf by casting thought away, trusting in spontaneous reaction. In his book about Hamlet and Hamlet, the psychoanalyst André Green observes:

Dans le deuil qui l'affecte Hamlet oppose les actions qu'on homme peut jouer, c'est-à-dire feindre sans doute, mais surtout représenter au théâtre et ce qu'il a en lui qui dépasse tout ce qui peut se représenter. "Play" et "show": la metaphore du théâtre est en sous-texte.

Voilà donc le paradoxe rencontré par Shakespeare. Donner à jouer, à représenter ce qui dépasse les possibilités de la représentation: la douleur psychique. Toute la pièce va devoir soutenir ce défi. Le langage poétique va servir de médiateur entre le monde intérieur indicible et son extériorisation sur la scène.29

Within the grief that affects Hamlet are opposed the actions that a man could play, that is, feign, undoubtedly, but above all represent in the theater, and what he has within, which goes beyond anything he can represent. "Play" and "show": the metaphor of the theater is in the subtext.

There is the paradox Shakespeare encounters: to put into play, to represent, that which surpasses the possibilities of representation—psychical pain. The entire play must sustain this challenge. Poetic language will serve as mediator between the inexpressible interior world and its exteriorization on the stage. (my translation)

Caught in the paradox of representing that essential "Hamlet" who cannot be truly enacted, language mediates between intrinsic inarticulation and extrinsic behavior. How does one show what cannot be shown? And if shown, how will it be perceived?

Oph. Will 'a tell us what this show meant?Ham. Ay, or any show that you will show him. Be not you asham'd to show, he'll not shame to tell you what it means.


Display first, criticism after. Both modes of exhibition involve shame. The witty moment gestures toward the problem of interpretation (and its confident inevitability) as well as toward the potentially shameful bodily bases that may underlie both textual and critical display. Yet what Hamlet cannot show through deliberate speech or demeanor he is ultimately able to show through sudden action.

Rashly— And prais'd be rashness for it—let us know Our indiscretion sometime serves us well When our deep plots do pall, and that should learn us There's a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough-hew them how we will—


What Hamlet terms "rashness," then "indiscretion," and then "divinity" is a spontaneous expression of an inner state without conscious articulation: unmediated, thoughtless action, show sans tell. Considered psychologically, the Hamlet who reacts to Laertes's histrionic display of grief, his astounding "phrase of sorrow," by leaping into Ophelia's grave and claiming, "This is I, / Hamlet the Dane" (5.1.254-58), has moved from an initial assertion of inward authenticity that cannot be shown to a sheer declaration and exhibition of self in action: "that within" becomes "this is I."30 This the moment, tragically short-lived, of Hamlet's assumption of an identity of his own, not one located elsewhere ("I'll call thee Hamlet," he said to the Ghost).

"The spontaneous gesture," wrote D.W. Winnicott, "is the True Self in action."31 For Winnicott, the core self is paradoxically the point of deepest connection and isolation: it is a secret, sacred essence to be expressed through genuine, spontaneous gesture and to be preserved and protected from manipulations and violations from without.32 For Lacan, on the other hand, the "that within" is a lack, a mark of the mourned object that constitutes an always alienated subject. For Winnicott it is a pristine presence. As Adam Phillips understands Winnicott (and he does), "the self is by definition elusive, the player of hide and seek."33 "Hide fox, and all after!" (Hamlet, 4.2.30). Hence Hamlet's bold assumption of identity at graveside is also a broad histrionic exhibition; his "show" is both theatrical and authentic. His seeming now fully displays his being. This complication (folding together) becomes both the question and the answer for Hamlet's problem of (re)presentation.34

"Rough-hew them how we will." Hamlet's remarks in praise of rashness modulate among several registers of unconscious, conscious, and supraconscious. The volitional project of plots is bracketed by the sudden gesture of indiscretion and the final design of divinity. A full appreciation of the term "will" includes this range of motivation and agency. Conscious intention occupies a shifting mid-range along a spectrum that spans unconscious spontaneity (a glimpse of unknown genuineness) and suprapersonal structure, whether understood in vague theological terms, as here, or in psychological and social terms, as in contemporary psychoanalysis.

I insert this theoretical interlude in order to provide current psychoanalytic ideas about identity and its origins as background to corollary arguments in current criticism, not merely about Henry IV Part One but about Shakespeare and the Renaissance, and in larger debates about the relation of the personal to the social, or of psychology to history. For instance, Stephen Greenblatt discusses the Henriad in terms similar to a linguistic approach, but draws different inferences.35 He sees one mode of the plays, especially the two parts of Henry IV, as a "'recording' of alien voices," those disempowered or illiterate characters who compose the lower elements of society. Hal studies the language of these others from a position of mastery and contempt. As his brother says in Henry IV Part Two: "The Prince but studies his companions / like a strange tongue . . ." (4.4.68-9). Rather than noting a style of identification, however, Greenblatt stresses the construction of difference and cites contemporary sixteenth-century compilations of glossaries of marginal vocabularies, like "cant language." Following his argument of self-fashioning, he then remarks about Hal and the notion of self: "Hal's characteristic activity is playing, or, more precisely, theatrical improvisation . . . , and he fully understands his own behaviour through most of the play as a role that he is performing." Greenblatt hence wonders if "such a thing as a natural disposition exists in the play as anything more than a theatrical fiction." For instance, in Falstaff s case even an appeal to "instinct" becomes a histrionic artifice, a rhetorical device.36

In its largest form, the argument about natural disposition and socially constructed artifice is an argument about the developmental priority of psychology or history. Greenblatt presents one test case in his essay on "Psychoanalysis and Renaissance Culture."37 His fundamental argument is that psychoanalytic interpretations of the Renaissance must be "marginal and belated" because psychoanalysis itself, and the concept of self from which it proceeds, are historical developments whose sources can be located in the Renaissance. Psychoanalysis is hence a "product" of the Renaissance and not privileged as an interpreter. One of Freud's primary assumptions—a coherent, continuous and authentic "self"—did not exist or was not assumed in Shakespeare's time. In the sixteenth century, Greenblatt asserts, such an idea of an irreducible physical and psychological self was "irrelevant to the point of being unthinkable."38 By contrast, he argues, Freudian psychoanalysis credits a "dream of authentic possession," "a primal, creatural individuation" anchored in the personal body, "the fixity, the certainty, of our own body."39

As historical evidence, he presents the story of Martin Guerre, the sixteenth-century Frenchman whose identity was claimed by another. The dispute was resolved in a public trial, through communal judgment and legal authorization. The impostor was eventually executed because he laid claim to Martin Guerre's social place. The man's "subjectivity does not any the less exist," Greenblatt acknowledges, "but it seems peripheral, or rather, it seems to be the product of the relations, material objects, and judgments exposed in the case rather than the producer of the relations, objects, and judgments." Guerre's identity was an effect of external social framing and not of an adduced interior subjectivity; identity was a "placeholder in a complex system of possessions, kinship bonds, contractual relationships." Toward the end of his essay Greenblatt notes a shift in the "body-property-name" relation: "this slow, momentous transformation of the middle term from 'property' to 'psyche.'" In a note he adds that this transformation "is at once a revolution and a continuation: 'psyche' is neither a mere mystification for 'property' nor a radical alternative to it."40

The essay is provocative and problematic. Before addressing specific problems, let me suggest that even if the main argument were true, the interpretive pertinence of psychoanalysis to Renaissance culture and texts is not thereby disabled. In the discussion of Macbeth (Chapter Six) I posit an isomorphic relation between Freud and Shakespeare that uses similarities in their models of psychic structure to elucidate meanings in both. But I do not believe that Greenblatt's argument holds up, for several reasons. First, his reductive restatements of the Freudian ego and his brief oedipal reading of Guerre's case indicate a limited familiarity with psychoanalytic theory. He sketches an analysis of Guerre's anxious sexuality and uncertain masculine identity that precipitated an oedipal rebellion against his father, the failure of which caused him to flee—"classic materials of Freudian speculation," as Greenblatt sees them. His inference that Guerre's flight "abandoned" a social identity while retaining a personai one is not, however, the paradox or problem Greenblatt represents it to be. His argument stresses the biophysiological components of Freudian theory (real aspects, to be sure) and ignores the social, interrelational aspects of identity-formation through identification. The Freudian ego develops simultaneously "from the inside," through its mediation of instinctual derivatives and the pleasure principle, and "from the outside," through its identifications with others and its management of external exigencies (the reality principle).41 Greenblatt constructs an antagonism between personal body and social place, where Freud theorized a cooperation—troublesome though it was.

Second, in historical terms, why is one sequential arrangement of "body-property-name" so privileged? Why is "property" or "psyche" a middle term? One might rearrange the terms to demonstrate alternative ways of thinking about the interrelations of each, thereby questioning an assumption of priority. Socially, name customarily precedes body, and name is a function of property. Humans are never entirely outside culture, nor did Freud think they were. When the real Guerre's identity was established in a sixteenth-century court, is this an instance of historical difference? Even today identity is established in similar ways. Finally, who could think that individual subjectivity would be the producer of social relations and material objects? A solipsist, perhaps, but not a Freudian. In brief, what Greenblatt's version of psychoanalysis lacks is a sophisticated idea of identification whereby individual identity is produced through the interrelations of self and others, understood in familial, linguistic, and social contexts.

Yet although Greenblatt's version of psychoanalysis in this essay is reductive, his conclusion recuperates much of its validity and value:

But if we reject both the totalizing of a universal mythology [of psychoanalysis] and the radical particularizing of relativism, what are we left with? We are left with a network of lived and narrated stories, practices, strategies, representations, fantasies, negotiations, and exchanges that, along with the surviving aural, tactile, and visual traces, fashion our experience of the past, of others, and of ourselves.42

This is not a bad definition of psychoanalysis, both in terms of its theory of self and the analytic process. Rather than providing historical precedent to devalue psychoanalysis, I think Greenblatt's essay offers substantial evidence to enrich the theory: indeed, as he asks, to "historicize" it, to amplify its relevance beyond the reductive modes in which it is sometimes employed and adjudged.

The issue of history (or sociology) versus psychology can be further examined by citing another contemporary, nonpsychoanalytic critic, Terry Eagleton, who states, citing Hamlet:

The self lives an irresolvable division between its desire, which conducts it along an endless chain of inflated signifiers, and its effort at "imaginary" unity with the fixed signified of its social position. As far as Hamlet is concerned, such efforts are hardly worth the trouble.43

Compare this statement with Greenblatt's famous Epilogue to Renaissance Self-Fashioning:

But as my worked progressed, I perceived that fashioning oneself and being fashioned by cultural institutions . . . were inseparably intertwined. In all my texts and documents, there were, so far as I could tell, no moments of pure, unfettered subjectivity: indeed, the human subject itself began to seem remarkably unfree, the ideological product of the relations of power in a particular society.44

These statements rest on differing yet connected assumptions about the relations of "self and "society." Eagleton's assumptions lead him to describe a self torn between endless desire and stable unity, where both desire and unity are illusory. The former is an endless series of steps along an ultimately tautological linguistic system, and the latter is a projected integrity of fixed social identity. In the Lacanian terms the passage deploys, the self circulates within the symbolic order while wishing to restore itself to the imaginary. It is a subjected self, conducted by desire and not actively desiring—although it may delusively credit the fiction of such an independent agency. The effort is troublesome and possibly futile, a lost cause, a burntout case. This self can find no satisfaction, because it is looking in a narcissistic mirror for a relationship with a genuine other.

Greenblatt's assumptions permit him to describe a less constrained, more complex subject, based on the interrelationship of self and others. He rejects, albeit to some degree regretfully, the fiction of self-creativity or of the individual, subjective production of language or literature. The work of art is a co-production of individual consciousness and the shared social customs and internalized relationships within which individuals develop. For Greenblatt these relationships are the residue of ideology, a product of systems of power. His rhetoric presses toward tragic limitation, whereby pure unfettered subjectivity is shackled by deterministic social forces.

The implicitly Marxist bias of this language can be refashioned, however, to allow the trajectory of the concept to incline another way. For there is a more positive theoretical statement of the interdependence of self and society, or subject and other. That is the domain of object-relations psychoanalysis, where subject and other are originally (re)presented by infant and mother, in a prolonged and productive construction—not of binary oppositions like "self and "society," or "desire" and "unity," but of a style of relationship that underlies and informs all emotions and actions of the individual as he or she grows out of the maternal and familial arena and enters the wider social world. Persons are thus truly "products of relations," but not necessarily as slaves stamped by ideology or subjects chained to paranoid projections of illusory unity. Object-relations are co-productions, primary attachments to and losses of objects (persons and internal representations of persons) that produce the experiential reality of self, object, and the relationships that link them.45 Although psychoanalysis posits a basic and prior human, interpersonal relation, it does not thereby reject the formative functions of what Lichtenstein calls "the nonhuman environment." The special value of the mutually reflective relation is that it offers the child an initial "configuration of its own presence" that gradually enables it to interact with the larger social world.46

Large designs of the "history versus psychology" debate can thus be found in contemporary criticism of Shakespeare's plays and in those plays. Of course, our tendency to discover such issues in Shakespeare is itself a reflection of our current modes of framing critical questions.47 Perhaps the relation of "Shakespeare" and "Shakespeare criticism" is analogous to the interrelation of subject and society. That is, does criticism derive from a clear reading of Shakespeare, so that it reproduces the truth of the texts, or does criticism produce a "Shakespeare" answering to its own current needs? Is criticism a window onto the Bard or a mirror wherein we practice behavior to our own shadows? From my perspective, it's both.


1 Maurice Morgann, Shakespearian Criticism, ed. Daniel Fineman (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972). Fineman's Introduction reviews critical controversies over the status of character in Shakespeare studies up to the mid-twentieth century: see pp. 11-36.

2 See A. C. Bradley, "The Rejection of Falstaff," Oxford Lectures on Poetry (1909) (London: Macmillan, 1950); L. L. Schucking, Character Problems in Shakespeare 's Plays: A Guide to the Better Understanding of the Dramatist (London: Harrap and Co., 1922); J. I. M. Stewart, "The Birth and Death of Falstaff," Character and Motive in Shakespeare (New York: Long-mans, 1949); Ernst Kris, "Prince Hal's Conflict," Psychoanalytic Explorations in Art (New York: International Universities Press, 1952), pp. 273-88. Kris's seminal essay on the psychoanalysis of a literary character has been reprinted, along with several critiques, in George Moraitis and Sidney Pollock, eds., Psychoanalytic Studies of Biography (New York: International Universities Press, 1987). Most recently, Harold Bloom discovers in Falstaff, alongside Hamlet, the verbal selfconsciousness that constitutes modern literary character itself. See The Western Canon; The Books and School of the Ages (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1994), pp. 47-50.

3 For a summary of psychoanalytic approaches to I Henry IV up to 1964, see Norman Holland, Psychoanalysis and Shakespeare (New York: McGraw Hill, 1966), pp. 206-10. I will refer to salient items since 1964 in what follows.

4 A lucid tripartite psychic mapping of I Henry IV is by Norman Holland, The Shakespearean Imagination (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1964), pp. 109-29. The embodiment of uncontrolled wishes and mortal mischief in Falstaff relates to the emblem of "Riot" incarnate, and to the psycho-anthropological reading of C. L. Barber in Shakespeare's Festive Comedy (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1959), pp. 192-213. The most thorough mapping of Freudian structural categories onto the dramatized psychomachia in the Henry IV plays is by Robert Watson, Shakespeare and the Hazards of Ambition (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1984), pp. 47-75. Even nonpsychoanalytic critics find Freudian terms tempting in this case. M. M. Mahood remarks that Falstaff "represents freedom from all the normal inhibitions, [and] even succeeds in breaking down those of the Lord Chief Justice, that walking embodiment of Freud's censor, to the point where he, too, begins to pun": see Shakespeare's Wordplay, p. 29.

5 The standard oedipal view is by Kris. For a sophisticated reading of the process of identity-formation through rivalry with the father, see Coppélia Kahn, Man's Estate: Masculine Identity in Shakespeare (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), pp. 69-79. Kahn develops her analysis into a consideration of masculine imitations of the mother-son relation, thus merging into the "object-relations" view I sketch below. Harry Berger's work on the displacements of oedipal feelings and representations in Richard II uses a kind of family systems theory approach to teasing out latent meanings and relations between characters: see "Psychoanalyzing the Shakespeare Text: The First Three Scenes of the Henriad," in Shakespeare and the Question of Theory, ed. Patricia Parker and Geoffrey Hartman (New York: Methuen, 1985), pp. 210-29. Watson amplifies the standard oedipal view to include Hal's identification with paternal power through his defeat of Hotspur: see Shakespeare and the Hazards of Ambition, p. 63.

6 Colin McCabe, in "Toward a Modern Trivium—English Studies Today," Critical Quarterly 26 (1984), notes that Mortimer's Welsh wife represents the seductive nonverbal power of female sexuality (pp. 71-72). Phyllis Rackin draws strong analogies between Wales, women, and female sexuality: "the country of the Others, a world of witchcraft and magic, of mysterious music, and also of unspeakable atrocity." See "Genealogical Anxiety and Female Authority: The Return of the Repressed in Shakespeare's Histories," in Contending Kingdoms: Historical Psychological, and Feminist Approaches to the Literature of Sixteenth-Century England and France, ed. Marie-Rose Logan and Peter Rudnytsky (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991), pp. 323-45, p. 332.

7 The earliest psychoanalytic characterization of Falstaff, as "the pleasure-seeking principle," is by Franz Alexander: "Some Notes on Falstaff," Psychoanalytic Quarterly 22 (1933), 592-606.

8 "A fat man," writes Auden, "is a cross between a very young child and a pregnant mother." See "The Prince's Dog," in The Dyer's Hand and Other Essays (New York: Random House, 1948), p. 195. For further discussion of this idea, see Kahn, Man's Estate, pp. 72-73, and Richard Wheeler, Shakespeare's Development and the Problem Comedies: Turn and Counter-Turn (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), pp. 165-67. The most extensive analysis is by Valerie Traub, in Desire and Anxiety: Circulations of Sexuality in Shakespearean Drama (London: Routledge, 1992), which is discussed below. In his essay on Falstaff, Morgann (1777) noted "the unaffected freedom and wonderful pregnancy of his wit and humour" (Fineman, ed., Shakespearian Criticism, p. 194).

9Shakespeare's Development and the Problem Comedies, p. 166.

10 Traub, "Prince Hal's Falstaff: Positioning Psychoanalysis and the Female Reproductive Body," Shakespeare Quarterly 40 (1989), 456-74; reprinted as Chapter Two in her book, Desire and Anxiety. She also quotes McCabe ("Toward a Modern Trivium"): "Falstaff s body constitutes a polymorphously perverse threat to the possibility of representation." For an account of the social and psychological functions of Elizabethan genealogy and history to support patriarchal structures and marginalize women, see Rackin, "Genealogical Anxiety and Female Authority." Two sentences from this excellent essay are especially pertinent here:

Patriarchal history was designed to construct a verbal substitute for the visible physical connection between a mother and her children, to authenticate the relationships between fathers and sons, and to suppress and supplant the role of the mother. (p. 324)

Never present in patriarchal history, women could only be represented, and what they represented was the material physical life that patriarchal discourse could never completely capture or control. (p. 336)

11Man's Estate, pp. 72-73.

12 See Jonathan Goldberg, "Hamlet's Hand," Shakespeare Quarterly 39 (1988), 307-27, for an extensive examination of Elizabethan handwriting practices and a theoretical extension to the idea of Hamlet as written character.

13 See Watson, Shakespeare and the Hazards of Ambition, pp. 62-64.

14 Terry Eagleton notes another difference. "Hotspur is an old-fashioned idealist," he writes, "who desires a language adequate to action and vice-versa; Falstaff has not the slightest wish to integrate the two, but flourishes in the gulf between them." See William Shakespeare (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986), p. 17.

15 For a thorough survey of the different languages in the play, see W.F. Bolton, "Linguistic Variety in 1-2 Henry IV," in Shakespeare's English: Language in the History Plays (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992), pp. 151-85. Bolton provides many examples of different styles, with some gestures toward characterization, especially of Hal's mimetic appropriations of Falstaff and Hotspur. For cogent remarks on the blending of political, sexual, and linguistic power in the play, and their relation to the project of a national language, see McCabe, "Toward a Modern Trivium."

16Man's Estate, p. 69.

17Patriarchal Structures in Shakespeare's Drama (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), p. 42.

18 Watson, Shakespeare and the Hazards of Ambition, pp. 57-58; Traub, Desire and Anxiety, p. 60.

19 Watson (Shakespeare and the Hazards of Ambition, pp. 48-50) cites Hotspur's reference to "the maiden-head of our affairs" (4.1.59) and quotes his arrogant reply to Glendower's claim that an earthquake announced his birth:

Oft the teeming earth Is with a kind of colic pinch'd and vex'd By the imprisoning of unruly wind Within her womb. . . .

.. . At your birth Our grandam earth, having this distemp'rature, In passion shook.


(Notice the iteration of the term "distemp'rature" in 5.1.3.) In the deep fantasy structure of the language of this play, or the play of this language, the unruly uterine wind of this passage replicates the whistling wind in the regal poem that begins Act Five.

20 "Man and Wife Is One Flesh: Hamlet and the Confrontation with the Maternal Body," in Suffocating Mothers: Fantasies of Maternal Origin in Shakespeare's Plays (New York: Routledge, 1992), p. 36.

21Standard Edition, 19, 3-66; 56.

22 These ideas are implicit in Winnicott, for instance in "Mirror-Role of Mother and Family in Child Development" in Playing and Reality (London: Tavistock, 1970), pp. 111-18. For the explicit restatements by Bollas, see The Shadow of the Object: Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987), pp. 9-10.

23 Lacan speaks for himself in "The mirror stage as formative of the function of the I as revealed in psychoanalytic experience," in Écrits: A Selection, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Norton, 1977), pp. 1-7; and "The subversion of the subject and the dialectic of desire in the Freudian unconscious," in Écrits, pp. 292-325. I make no claim to full representation of his concept of the subject nor would I undertake to explicate his various schemata. For selective secondary explication, see Kaja Silverman, The Subject of Semiotics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), pp. 126-93; Ellie Ragland Sullivan, Jacques Lacan and the Philosophy of Psychoanalysis (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986), pp. 1-16; and Malcolm Bowie, Lacan (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991), pp. 186-90.

24The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book II: The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller (New York: Norton, 1988), p. 155.

25 As Adam Phillips has noted, at crucial moments Winnicott's language harbors religious residues: see his critical biography, Winnicott (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988), pp. 3, 155 (n. 5), 97, 130.

26 See Lichtenstein's collected essays, The Dilemma of Human Identity (New York: Jason Aronson, 1977), especially "Identity and Sexuality," pp. 49-122, and "Narcissism and Primary Identity," pp. 207-21.

27 Lichtenstein, "Narcissism and Primary Identity," in Dilemma of Human Identity, p. 215, p. 218. The concept of the "identity theme" is elaborated by Norman Holland, The I (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1986).

28 Published in Transport to Summer (1947) and in The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1965), pp. 339-46.

29Hamlet et Hamlet (Paris: Ballard, 1982), p. 60.

30 Freud's version of this ideal developmental and therapeutic moment is: "Wo es war, soll ich werden" ("Where it was, I will be"): see New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1933), Standard Edition 22, p. 80. Lacan notes a telling historical and psychological shift in French idiom: "The 'ce suis-je' of the time of Villon has become reversed in the 'c 'est moi ' of modern man." See "The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis," in Écrits, p. 70. That exemplary adventurer of early modernity, Hamlet, asserts himself at a most propitious historical moment. For a Lacanian reading of Hamlet's spontaneity as an expression of his desire and its relation to chance and change, see William Beatty Warner, "The Case of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark," in Chance and the Text of Experience: Freud, Nietzsche, and Shakespeare's Hamlet (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1986), pp. 215-98, especially pp. 246-63.

31 See "Ego Distortion in Terms of True and False Self in Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment: Studies in the Theory of Emotional Development (London: Hogarth Press, 1965), pp. 140-52.

32 See "Communicating and Not Communicating Leading to a Study of Certain Opposites" in Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment, pp. 179-92.

33 See Winnicott, pp. 138-52.

34 Recent readings of Hamlet paint a much darker picture of this internalized relation to the mother. Adelman's brilliant essay argues that Hamlet's appeal to "an inviolable core of selfhood" that cannot be shown or known is a defense against his fear of contamination by the sullied world that engulfs him. Since the source of this contamination is his fantasy of a debased and threatening maternal body, however, his "that within" also paradoxically marks the unavoidable link to the matter of the mother. See "Man and Wife Is One Flesh," especially pp. 29-30. See also Juliana Schiesari, The Gendering of Melancholia: Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Symbolics of Loss in Renaissance Drama (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1992), for a Lacanian and Kristevan account of Hamlet's melancholy that differs from Adelman's Kleinian and Winnicottian perspective. In a recent dissertation, Marsha Ginsberg links psychoanalytic ideas about melancholy and the maternal to classical, medieval, and early modern sciences of physiology, sexuality, and psychology. See Reconceiving Melancholy: Gynecological Moles of Difference in Shakespeare's Hamlet and Richard II (Ph.D. Dissertation, SUNY Buffalo, 1996). Patricia Parker develops an intense and provocative reading of the links between maternal sexuality and "show" in "Othello and Hamlet: Dilation, Spying, and the 'Secret Place' of Woman," in Shakespeare Reread: The Texts in New Contexts, ed. Russ McDonald (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1994), pp. 105-46.

35 "Invisible Bullets: Renaissance Authority and Its Subversion, Henry IV and Henry V" in Shakespeare: New Essays in Cultural Materialism, ed. Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1985), pp. 18-47.

36 "Invisible Bullets," p. 33, p. 35.

37 In Literary Theory/Renaissance Texts, ed. Patricia Parker and David Quint (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 210-24; reprinted in Greenblatt, Learning to Curse: Essays in Early Modern Culture (New York: Routledge, 1990), pp. 131-45. The thesis is also noted by Joel Fineman in Shakespeare's Perjured Eye: The Invention of Poetic Subjectivity in the Sonnets (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), p. 47.

38 "Psychoanalysis and Renaissance Culture," p. 133. Although Greenblatt offers no proof of this assertion, similar claims are made by J. Leeds Barroll in Artificial Persons: The Formation of Character in the Tragedies of Shakespeare (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1974), p. 73, pp. 85-88, and Anne Ferry in The "Inward" Language: Sonnets of Wyatt, Sidney, Shakespeare, and Donne (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), pp. 31-70.

39 "Psychoanalysis and Renaissance Culture," pp. 134-35, p. 138.

40 "Psychoanalysis and Renaissance Culture," p. 137, p. 141, p. 145 (n. 7).

41 Freud's most succinct account of the development of the ego is in The Ego and the Id (1923), Standard Edition, 19, 3-68. He discusses the pleasure and reality principles in "Formulations on the Two Principles of Mental Functioning" (1911), Standard Edition, 12, 213-26. For a theoretical essay that refashions Greenblatt's strictly oedipal model into a process of identification, see Freud, "The Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex" (1924), Standard Edition, 19, 173-82.

42 "Psychoanalysis and Renaissance Culture," p. 138.

43William Shakespeare, p. 13.

44Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), p. 256.

45 Eloquent and subtle restatements of Winnicott can be found in Bollas, The Shadow of the Object: see Introduction, pp. 9-10, and "The Self as Object," pp. 41-63. For a review of psychoanalytic literature on the self that does not rely on Lacan or Winnicott, see Otto Kernberg, "The Dynamic Unconscious and the Self," in Raphael Stern, ed., Theories of the Unconscious, ed. Raphael Stern (Hillsdale, N.J.: Analytic Press, 1987), pp. 3-25. See also the response by Marcia Cavell in the same volume, pp. 58-63.

46 Lichtenstein, "Narcissism and Primary Identity," p. 218. For further postmodern elaborations of the question of personal identity as a struggle between inscribed or prescribed "character" and an individual will to originality, enacted through play or a staging of self in Shakespeare, see Linda Chames, Notorious Identity: Materializing the Subject in Shakespeare (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993), pp. 1-19. Later she writes that "by deconstructing the legend of Troilus and Cressida, Shakespeare reconstructs theater and drama as a new site not for representing 'identity' but for staging 'kinds of selves'" (p. 102).

47 A brilliant and thorough analysis of the dispute is offered by Meredith Skura in "Discourse and the Individual: The Case of Colonialism in The Tempest," Shakespeare Quarterly 40 (1989), 42-69.

Source: "The Famous Analyses of Henry the Fourth," in Poetic Will: Shakespeare and the Play of Language, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997, pp. 55-63.


Pilgrims of Grace: Henry IV Historicized


The Prince's Dog: Falstaff and the Perils of Speech-Prefixity