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Hofling, C.K. (1974). Psychological Aspects Of Shakespeare's Tempest. Psychoanal. Rev., 61(3):375-395.

(1974). Psychoanalytic Review, 61(3):375-395

Psychological Aspects Of Shakespeare's Tempest

Charles K. Hofling, M.D.

Prospero…. but how is it

That this lives in thy mind?

What seest thou else

In the dark backward and abysm of time?

(Tempest, I, ii, 48-50, underlined

by Keats in his copy of the folio)


William Hazlett said of The Tempest it

is one of the most original and perfect of Shakespeare's productions, and he has shown in it all the variety of his powers. It is full of grace and grandeur.8

More than a century later, Goddard added, “The Tempest has an unrivaled power to inspire in all sensitive readers the belief that it contains a secret meaning” 5 These two aspects, the beauty and technical perfection of the work and the impression it gives of meaning behind meaning, go far to explain why it is high on the list of favorites of most critics of Shakespeare.

In addition to these generalizations there are some specific features of the play which give it a special interest. It is, of course, the last complete play to have come from Shakespeare's hand. It is the only play in which Shakespeare has preserved the dramatic unities of time and place, the entire drama taking place on the magic island between two and six o'clock in the afternoon of a single day. It is, in at least one respect, strangely modern—in fact, Ibsenian—in that action is decidedly subordinated to other elements.

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