"Psychoanalysis and the Endings of Shakespeare's plays"
with Erwin Flaxman, Ph.D.
“Really, universally, relations stop nowhere, and the exquisite problem of the artist is eternally to draw, by a geometry of his own, the circle in which they shall happily appear to do so.”
Henry James, Roderick Hudson
This paper discusses how psychoanalytic explanations of endings, including of the dynamics at work in the termination of a psychoanalysis, can be used to explain the “geometry” of the endings of Shakespeare’s plays on the page and in the theater. Shakespeare’s endings are bound to the laws of dramatic finality and resolution, yet remain variable, provisional, and permeable. Drama, like a psychoanalysis, has its greatest impact in the subjective middle of the experience, in the moments when the largest quantity of unorganized instinct governs the action, a particularly common situation in Shakespearean drama. To understand the endings of Shakespeare’s plays and terminations of a psychoanalysis, we must first invalidate and falsify them, as Freud did for psychoanalysis in “Analysis Terminable and Interminable,” a paper that casts a shadow on any discussion of these endings, closings, or terminations.
New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute
247 East 82nd Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues)
The Marianne & Nicholas Young Auditorium