Plato’s Tripartite Soul in Shakespeare

Plato’s Tripartite Soul in Shakespeare

In the Republic, Plato divides the human soul into three parts: the Appetite, the Rational, and the Spirited. The Appetite part of the soul desires bodily pleasures such as food, drink, sex, etc; the Rational part desires to exercise reason and make rational decisions; and the Spirited part desires honor above all else.

Throughout his works, William Shakespeare presents numerous characters who are dominated by one aspect of their soul. For example, the Appetite part of the soul dominates Tarquin in The Rape of Lucrece, the Rational part of the soul dominates Hamlet, and the Spirited part of the soul dominates Coriolanus. Continue reading

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Claudius’ Deception

After discovering that his uncle Claudius killed his father, Hamlet exclaims,“One may smile, and smile, and be a villain!” Shakespeare’s works often explore the theme of appearance versus reality, and the Tragedy of Hamlet is no exception. Claudius discovers just how difficult it is to conceal the truth. After all, “Stones have been known to move, and trees to speak. Augurs and understood relations have By magot pies and choughs and rooks brought forth The secret’st man of blood.” Continue reading