This book takes a new approach to Shakespeare’s plays, exploring them as dream-thought in the modern psychoanalytic sense of unconscious thinking.
Through his commitment to poetic language, Shakespeare offers images and dramatic sequences that illustrate fundamental developmental conflicts, the solutions for which are not preconceived but evolve through the process of dramatisation. In this volume, Meg Harris Williams explores the fundamental distinction between the surface meanings of plot or argument and the deep grammar of dreamlife, applied not only to those plays known as ‘dream-plays’ but also to critical sequences throughout Shakespeare’s oeuvre.
Through a post-Kleinian model based on the thinking of Bion, Meltzer, and Money-Kyrle, this book sheds new light on both Shakespeare’s own relation to the play and on the identificatory processes of the playwright, reader, or audience. Dream Sequences in Shakespeare is important reading for psychoanalysts, playwrights, and students.
Table of Contents
1. The Individual and the Group: Richard II and Julius Caesar 2. The Reason of Love Objects: A Midsummer Night’s Dream 3. Dreamlife and Adolescent Identity in Hamlet and Ophelia 4. Dreams of Dark Corners: Legalism at Play in The Merchant of Venice and Troilus and Cressida 5. Explorations in Minus K: Macbeth and Othello 6. The Turbulence of Aesthetic Conflict: King Lear 7. Love and the Evolution of Thought: Antony and Cleopatra 8. The Organ of Consciousness in Cymbeline 9. A Dream of Reparation: The Winter’s Tale 10. The Birth of Ideas: The Tempest
Meg Harris Williams is a writer, literary critic, and artist. She has published many books and papers on the relation between literature, aesthetic experience, and psychoanalysis, specialising in a post-Kleinian perspective. She teaches internationally and is a visiting lecturer at the Tavistock Clinic, an honorary member of the Psychoanalytic Center of California, and editor for the Harris Meltzer Trust. Her books include Inspiration in Milton and Keats; The Apprehension of Beauty (with Donald Meltzer); A Strange Way of Killing; Five Tales from Shakespeare (for children); The Vale of Soulmaking; Bion’s Dream; The Aesthetic Development; Hamlet in Analysis – A Trial of Faith; The Becoming Room; and The Art of Personality. Website: www.artlit.info.
‘Understanding Shakespeare’s plays as aesthetic objects that transcend the limitations of time and space, Meg Harris Williams follows the dream logic of their aesthetic form. Her readings illuminate the transformative processes of Shakespeare’s imagination, and her psychoanalytic perceptions yield insight after insight into Shakespeare’s theatrical worlds. Her book is a welcome counterpoint to current historical and political readings.’
– Murray Schwartz, Professor Emeritus, Institute for Liberal Arts & Interdisciplinary Studies at Emerson College
‘In these "second thoughts" on Shakespeare’s "dreamscape," Harris Williams invites us to accompany her in discovering latent elements of the plays through her own "counterdreaming" – Meltzerian form of "reverie" – that facilitates an experience-near exploration of how the characters handle the contrary emotions of love and hate that set in motion forward-moving, or regressive, "anti-thought" developmental sequences, while also prompting us to question our own openness to uncovering what we don’t yet know. In so doing, she elucidates the "reparative possibility" of engaging with internal objects, not just for the protagonists and playwright himself, but in turn the reader – that to more intimately step-in, the reader, artist, much as analysand and analyst, is potentially granted access to the "poetic deep grammar" of emotional life that "enriches our own becoming," thereby affirming the transformative power of art, alongside psychoanalysis. This journey we are taken on is an eye-opening, inspirational one, steeped in the marriage of Harris William’s scholarly knowledge of Shakespeare and her "deep rooted" appreciation of the Bionian-Meltzerian oeuvre, driven by her own desire to listen to the internal muse.’
– Vivienne Pasieka, Psychoanalyst, Toronto