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Grayson, G. (1991). Fair is foul and foul is fair: Perversion and projective identification in Macbeth. Free Associations, 2(2):214-248.

(1991). Free Associations, 2(2):214-248

Fair is foul and foul is fair: Perversion and projective identification in Macbeth

Gail Grayson

I have begun to study Macbeth which has long tormented me without my having been able to find a solution, Freud wrote to Ferenczi in 1914. ‘There are dark forces at work in the play.’ Again, in his essay ‘Some character-types met with in psychoanalytic work’, Freud confesses himself mystified by Shakespeare's play:

What the motives could have been which in so short a space of time could turn the hesitating man into an unbridled tyrant and his steely-hearted instigator into a sick woman gnawed by remorse, it is, in my view, impossible to guess. (1916, pp. 322-3) He attempts an explanation. Lady Macbeth is an example of a woman who collapses just when she has reached the goal for which she has been striving with single-minded energy. She commits suicide once Duncan is dead and she is Queen. Before murder ‘there is no hesitation, no sign of any internal conflict, no endeavour but that of overcoming the scruples of her ambitious but tender-minded husband.

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