Shadow and Anima in Hamlet

Mermaid Allusion and the Stages of Eroticism
  • Matthew A. Fike


One may better understand the potency of Othello’s soldier persona in light of the following statements:

The more masculine his [a man’s] outer attitude is, the more his feminine traits are obliterated: instead, they appear in his unconscious. This explains why it is just those very virile men who are most subject to characteristic weaknesses; their attitude to the unconscious has a womanish weakness and impressionability. (CW 6, 804/469)

Outwardly an effective and powerful role is played, while inwardly an effeminate weakness develops in face of [sic] every influence coming from the unconscious. Moods, vagaries, timidity, even a limp sexuality (culminating in impotence) gradually gain the upper hand. (CW7, 308/194)

Jung emphasizes this compensatory relationship between persona and anima by stressing that a man’s identification with a masculine “mask” determines the degree to which “he is delivered over to influences from within,” specifically “feminine weakness … for it is the anima that reacts to the persona.” Furthermore: “Everything that should normally be in the outer attitude, but is conspicuously absent, will invariably be found in the inner attitude. This is the fundamental rule” (CW 7, 308–9/194–95; 6, 806/469). The phenomenon occurs whether the mask is martial as in Othello’s case or intellectual as in Hamlet’s.


Conscious Awareness Feminine Trait Outer Attitude Compensatory Relationship Classical Mythology 
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© Matthew A. Fike 2009

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