Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To see author affiliation information in an article…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

To see author affiliation and contact information (as available) in an article, simply click on the Information icon next to the author’s name in every journal article.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Marcus, M. (1981). A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Dialectic of Eros-Thanatos. Am. Imago, 38(3):269-278.

(1981). American Imago, 38(3):269-278

A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Dialectic of Eros-Thanatos

Mordecai Marcus

Jan Kott declares that the “philosophical theme” of A Midsummer Night's Dream is “Eros and T[h]anatos” (p. 223). However, his development of the idea is minimal and obscure. He seems to see the blindness of love and an almost violent animal erotic animality as an equivalent for the death-urge as it surrounds and intensifies the sex act. Hugh M. Richmond's approach is explicitly based on Denis de Rougemont's thesis, in his Love in the Western World, that romantic love pursues obstacles and finally death itself to enhance the desireability of the fading love-object and to achieve in death an extinction of self which love desires but cannot realize. In a passage not directly citing de Rougemont, Richmond summarizes the thesis: “Since the most excitingly intense feelings and idealizations are generated by impediments to love, and since the supreme impediment to love is death, unqualified passion solicits the death of both the beloved and the lover” (pp. 117-118). Richmond believes that all the young lovers in the play are motivated by pursuit of barriers based on this psychology, that the Pyramus-Thisby playlet ridicules this orientation, and that Bottom shows distinct scepticism towards it. Thus, Richmond finds in this play, as in Romeo and Juliet, powerful warnings against the celebration of love-and-death.

If one grants Richmond's interpretation of the young lovers' motives, his reading is coherent, but also one-sided and stiffly moralistic.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2021, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.