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Kanzer, M. (1979). Shakespeare's Dog Images — Hidden Keys to Julius Caesar. Am. Imago, 36(1):2-31.

(1979). American Imago, 36(1):2-31

Shakespeare's Dog Images — Hidden Keys to Julius Caesar

Mark Kanzer, M.D.

The imagery of the artist, as has been abundantly expounded in the analytic literature, draws deeply on the realm of the unconscious both in the creative individual and in his audience. Freud spoke of the unconscious of the one being transmitted through his art to the unconscious of the other. We may also suppose that the artist is receptive to the unconscious of the audience as well. We shall endeavor, in a study of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar to lend substance to these somewhat nebulous concepts by the scrutiny of a basic image, that of the humble dog, which scampers in and out of the language and behavior of the characters—though a dog as such never appears.

Our preliminary point of departure is the observation by Caroline Spurgeon (1935) in Shakespeare's Imagery that certain quite specific images recur throughout his plays and poetry, while differing but also quite specific imagery is to be found in the writings of contemporaries who have been suggested as the “true authors” of his works; (Bacon, Marlowe, et al.). Her careful assemblage and appraisal of the images teaches us not only how to assess authorship but also how to gain insight into the personalities of individuals whose biographies, like Shakespeare's, are meager and belong to the distant past. The images constitute veritable mental finger prints and her methods have long since been recognized as opening a new field of literary research.

One need not be Freudian to draw a personality sketch with such methods, but different schools of thought will indeed draw differing, if not necessarily conflicting, conclusions.

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