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Fineman, J. (1977). Fratricide and Cuckoldry: Shakespeare's Doubles. Psychoanal. Rev., 64(3):409-453.

(1977). Psychoanalytic Review, 64(3):409-453

Fratricide and Cuckoldry: Shakespeare's Doubles

Joel Fineman

I love Shakespeare's clowns—they have a lot of humor, but nevertheless they express hate, they are not from God.

—Vaslav Nijinsky

If others have their will Ann hath a way.

—Stephen Dedalus

Throughout his career Shakespeare worked with symmetrical patterns, with pairs of doubles, with relationships of edged and ironically reciprocal equipoise. These structures of opposition are often placed in an explicit familial frame—The Comedy of Errors, for example with which Shakespeare began his experiments in comic form, is purely a farce of twins, and a mechanical farce at that—but just as often a familial context is merely suggested, unspoken but presupposed. Think, for example, of Hermia and Helana, who “grew together, /Like to a double cherry, seeming parted, / But yet an union in partition— / Two lovely berries molded on one stem” (A Mid-summer-Night's Dream, III, ii, 208-211), or of Leontes and Polixenes, who call each other “brother” because, “They were train'd together in their childhood; and there rooted betwixt them then such an affection, which cannot choose but branch now” (The Winter's Tale, I, i, 21-23).


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