1st Edition

Shakespeare’s Returning Warriors – and Ours

By Alan Warren Friedman Copyright 2022
    192 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    192 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Shakespeare’s Returning Warriors – and Ours takes its primary inspiration from the contemporary U.S. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) crisis in soldiers transitioning from battlefields back into society. It begins by examining how ancient societies sought to ease the return of soldiers in order to minimize PTSD, though the term did not become widely used until the early 1980s. It then considers a dozen or so Shakespearean plays that depict such transitions at the start, focusing on the tragic protagonists and antagonists in paradigmatic "returning warrior" plays, including Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, Othello, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, and Coriolanus, and exploring the psychological and emotional ill-fits that prevent warrriors from returning to the status quo ante after battlefield triumphs, or even surviving the psychic demons and moral disequilibrium they unleash on their domestic settings and themselves. It also analyzes the history plays, several comedies, and Hamlet as plays that partly conform to and also significantly deviate from the basic paradigm. The final chapter discusses recent attempts to effect successful transitions, often using Shakespeare’s plays as therapy, and depictions of attempts to wage warfare without inducing PTSD. Through the investigation of the tragedies and model returning warrior experiences, Shakespeare’s Returning Warriors – and Ours highlights a central and understudied feature of Shakespeare’s plays and what they can teach us about PTSD today when it is a widespread phenomenon in American society.


    List of Illustrations


    Chapter 1. PTSD and the Failure of Re-integration

    Chapter 2. Homer, Aeschylus, Shakespeare, and PTSD

    Chapter 3. Militarism in Shakespeare’s History Plays

    Chapter 4. Paradigmatic Returning Warrior Plays: Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, Othello,

    Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus

    Chapter 5. Dramatic Variants: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing,

    Troilus and Cressida

    Chapter 6. Hamlet’s Warrior Problems

    Chapter 7. Returning Warriors, Drones, and PTSD




    Alan Warren Friedman, Thaman Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Texas at Austin, specializes in modern British, Irish, and American literature, the novel, and Shakespearean drama. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester in 1966, writing a dissertation on Lawrence Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet, the subject of his first book. Subsequent authored books include Multivalence: The Moral Quality of Form in the Modern Novel; William Faulkner; Fictional Death and the Modernist Enterprise; Party Pieces: Oral Narrative and Social Performance in Joyce and Beckett; and Surreal Beckett: Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, and Surrealism. He has edited or co-edited six books and a dozen special journal issues, and published on Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, and Marlowe's Jew of Malta. He has won both the President’s Associates and Plan II's Chad Oliver Teaching Awards, and both the English Department's Faculty Service Award and UT's Civitatis Award conferred annually "upon a member of the faculty in recognition of dedicated and meritorious service to the University above and beyond the regular expectations of teaching, research, and writing." He has served as Chair of the University’s Faculty Council and as Secretary of the General Faculty.