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Byles, J.M. (1982). Macbeth: Imagery of Destruction. Am. Imago, 39(2):149-164.

(1982). American Imago, 39(2):149-164

Macbeth: Imagery of Destruction

Joan M. Byles, Ph.D.

Freud speaks of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as the divided images of one prototype, the idea having been suggested to him by Jekels; and although he only dealt with the subject in passing, Freud also thought the contrast between sterility and fecundity to be a basic theme in Macbeth. Like Otto Rank, Jekels concentrates on the ritual theme of father-son relationship: “Macbeth demonstrates that a bad son makes a bad father.” This essay will explore the relationship between fear and guilt in Macbeth's character, expressed through imagery of destruction.

The concept of the superego, both individual and cultural, is crucial to our understanding of the dynamics of destruction in Shakespearean tragedy. In drama, the tragic hero's superego is of course separate from the cultural superego. Superego aggression may be directed against the self or the external world; the operative feeling in this aggression is always hatred. It is a necessary assumption in my thesis that in tragic action, there is a direct link between the protagonist's suffering and death, and the destructive-ness of his superego and that of the community he exists in.

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