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Faber, M.D. (1967). Oedipal Patterns in Henry IV. Psychoanal Q., 36:426-434.

(1967). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 36:426-434

Oedipal Patterns in Henry IV

M. D. Faber, Ph.D.

I

Shakespeare's Histories, like all great epics, express more than particulars, more than individual personalities and events, more than Tudor political doctrines or the rising tide of nationalism in the last years of Elizabeth's reign: for Shakespeare's Histories imitate life as all great poetry imitates life, namely, by capturing the universal in the particular, by commenting upon the human condition as it has been, is, and probably will be, and, in short, by holding the mirror to nature and not shrinking from what appears there. I believe the history plays deserve much more attention from those of us who are concerned with demonstrating the pertinency of psychoanalytic thinking to works of literature. So completely have Shakespeare's tragedies (along with one comedy, The Tempest) dominated interdisciplinary discussion that one is not apt to realize just how capable the Histories are of substantiating and clarifying psychoanalytic concepts, and even of affording fresh insights.

Two papers, one by Alexander and one by Kris, vividly point up the extent to which the Shakespeare of Henry IV and Henry V succeeded in giving expression to some fundamental problems in the emotional growth and maturation of the individual. I regard my work primarily as a continuation of theirs. My attempt is to uncover psychoanalytic significances with which Kris and Alexander were not concerned.

Alexander demonstrates that in Henry IV, Parts One and Two, Prince Henry's struggle toward maturity is expressed through his struggle with two symbolic or representative characters, Falstaff and Hotspur (1).

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