The Work of Redemption: King Lear and The Red Book


  • Matthew A. Fike



Jung, Shakespeare, King Lear, The Red Book, individuation, enantiodromia


The Red Book by C. G. Jung remains an unexplored analogy for William Shakespeare’s King Lear. Jungian critics of the play have mainly emphasized Lear’s extraverted rationality versus his need to foster introversion and love. Jung’s visionary experiences suggest an additional pattern: a departure from an initial state of psychological dysfunction, an encounter with unconscious forces, and a return that reflects inner progress. Within this tripartite structure, the two works share many themes and image patterns; but whereas Jung achieves genuine individuation, Lear’s progress is more akin to enantiodromia than to the ideal that The Red Book proposes—a balance or unity of opposites in the creation of a new third state of being.

Author Biography

Matthew A. Fike

Matthew A. Fike holds a PhD from the University of Michigan and is a professor of English at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. He is the author of A Jungian Study of Shakespeare: The Visionary Mode and several other Jungian literary monographs.