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Sharpe, E.F. (1946). From King Lear to the Tempest. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 27:19-30.

(1946). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 27:19-30

From King Lear to the Tempest

Ella Freeman Sharpe

(Some conclusions taken from a study in progress on The Cyclic Movement in Shakespeare's Plays)

I re-read some months ago Shakespeare's plays King Lear and The Tempest, in that order, without any conscious intention of either linking them together or making any psycho-analytical study. It interested me to find that there was an interval of seven years between the creation of a tragedy in which there is a storm, and The Tempest, the last romantic play which begins with a storm. Might they not have a psychological relationship?

My interest canalized when I subsequently re-read A Short Life of Shakespeare with the Sources, abridged by C. Williams from Sir Edmund Chambers' William Shakespeare: a Study of Facts and Problems. Sir Edmund Chambers says (p. 61): '… the transition from the tragedies to the romances is not an evolution but a revolution. There has been some mental process such as the psychology of religion would call a conversion'.

To that conclusion I finally arrived myself after further study of these two plays, giving to the word 'revolution' first of all the literal translation of 'revolving', i.e. a psychical re-volution experienced by the author and communicated through poetic drama.

I hope to demonstrate this more fully from the texts in a completed study of the plays. I postulate that The Tempest is the psychological sequence of King Lear and that both plays are linked together in a cycle of inner experiences, a cycle which seems characteristic of creative artists.

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