Abstract

This paper examines Ben Jonson's comedies from the psychoanalytic point of view. The author argues that Jonson's comedies embody derivatives of his unconscious memories as well as of the fantasies they engendered. These derivatives appear in a recurrent sequential pattern of scenes in his work. Comedies embodying these patterns helped Jonson to keep his memories buried; when his effort at mastery broke down, he "acted out." The action and structure of the comedies also functioned as a continuing defense against depression, the syndrome that Freud in his day called "melancholia." Jonson's great failing as a playwright—his continuing inability to create lifelike, three-dimensional characters—resulted from his inability to detach himself sufficiently from the pressure exerted by his inner life.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1085-7931
Print ISSN
0065-860X
Pages
pp. 165-190
Launched on MUSE
2008-10-26
Open Access
No
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