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Lady Macbeth and the Animus Problem in Shakespeares


Seminar Outlines

Story of Macbeth
What is Animus?
Psychoanalytic Theory of Carl Gustav Jung
Why Animus is over developed -- Reason
Lady Macbeth as an Animus Ridden Character
Examples from the Text

Lady Macbeth in Shakespeares Macbeth seems to display through her behaviour what
Jung or Jungian would call animus-ridden which overtly reveals that it falls quite
unnaturally out of the ambit of her feminine nature. The main focus of my study is to
analyze as to how she deviates from her gender acceptable to the society dominated by
male orientation and patriarchal culture. It also focuses on the event, incidents and
psychological processes which are responsible for the sea change in her mindset and not
accepting the inner man which is so essential in order to become a productive citizen of
the society.

Macbeth is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare, set in Scotland, the play
illustrates the damaging physical and psychological effects of political ambition on
those who seeks power for own sake. It is about a brave Scottish general named
Macbeth who receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become
King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth
murders King Duncan and takes the throne for himself. After this deed he soon
becomes a tyrannical ruler as he is forced to commit more and more murders to protect
himself from enmity and suspicion. The bloodbath and consequent civil war swiftly
take Lady Macbeth into the realms of madness and at last death. At the end in a fight
Macbeth is also killed.

What is Animus?
Animus is the masculine aspect of the female psyche and originates in
collective unconscious as an archetype and remains extremely resistant
to consciousness. When identified with the animus, woman develops an
excessive irrational drive which may end up in excessive criticism and
stubbornness and only the urge to impose them on others.

Psychoanalytical Theory of Personality


Conscious Mind


Repressed Memories


Also called Psychic Inheritance. It contains

archetypes. They are the archaic images that we have
inherited from our ancestors. Examples are the
persona, shadow, animus, anima etc.

Why Animus is Over-developed --Reason

Instead of being content with an intermediate position, the
animus seeks to usurp the self with which the patients animus
identifies. This identification is a regular occurrence when the
shadow, the dark side, the persona have not been sufficiently

No balance between the archetypes

Lady Macbeths Animus Problem

Lady Macbeth is a very ambitious lady and have a great lust for the power and to be
Queen. Her animus is over developed and she seems as a distorted and split
personality. She encourages her husband for the evil deed that to kill the King
Duncan. She seems to stimulate Macbeths mind by lionizing the deed as heroic as
possible without bothering about the consequences. And for this she wishes to change
her sex by invoking evil spirits.
1. Example
Come you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here
And fill me from the crown to the toe, top full.
Of direst cruelty! Make my blood Thick. (1.5, 41-44)

Lady Macbeth likes all the pity in her heart to

be totally extinguished. She then calls upon the dark night to
cover itself in the thickest smoke.
2. Example:
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
Th effect and it! Come to my womens breast
And take my milk for gall
Come thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell.

Lady Macbeth continuously questioning the bravery of her

husband. She compares Macbeth to a cat who wants fish to
eat from a pond but doesnt want to wet her feet.

Which thou esteems' the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting I dare not
Wait upon I wound, Like the poor cat Ith adage. (1.7)

I have given suck and know
How tender tis to love the babe that milks me,
I would, while, while it was smiling in my face,
Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums. (1.7)

5. Example
I ll gild the faces of the grooms with
For it must seem their guilt

As Lady Macbeths animus is over-developed so at last she engulfed by this
and turns insane. Although, she has succeeded in her aim but now is unable
to overcome the guilt of killing King Duncan. Her sleep walking and
washing her hands from the blood spots, shows her mental condition
Yet heres a spot.
Heres the smell of the blood still.
All the perfumes of Arabia will no
Sweeten this little hand, oh, oh, oh. ( 5.1)

Lady Macbeth is a very ambitious lady and have a lust for Power and to be
Queen. She is unable to recognize her conscious and unconscious and is
failed to keep balance between them due to her persona and her animus is
over-developed. As a result she gets mad and commits suicide.
Freud says,
She is ready to sacrifice even her womanliness to her murderous intention, without
reflecting on the decisive part which this womanliness must play when the question
afterwards arises of preserving the aim of her ambition, which has been attained through
a crime.(The Chapter of Lady Macbeth. Pg.39)

Fordham Farida. Introduction to Jungs Psychology. England: Penguin. 1953
Jung C G. Psychology and Alchemy. Vol.12 Collected works of Jung. Princeton
University Press. U.S.A. 1944
Jung C G. The Portable Jung. Ed. Joseph Campbell, New York: Penguin. 1971
Shakespeare William. Macbeth. England. 1623
Sin field Alan. Ed. Macbeth. The Character of Lady Macbeth by Sigmund
Freud, the Macmillan Press LTD Hound mills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 2XS.
London . 1922

Electronic Bibliography
www.good TV

Thank you