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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