Male Friendship As Masculine Individuation in Romeo and Juliet
The purpose of this essay is to analyse from a Jungian perspective how heroic masculinity and Christianity, due to their negative attitude toward the feminine, problematize masculine individuation and cause tragedy in Romeo and Juliet. Although all male characters in Verona fall short of the mature masculinity that could come with developing a relation to the feminine, I focus on Romeo and Mercutio whose problematic development clarifies man’s difficulty with integrating the feminine without forgoing the masculine structure. Romeo, the puer, who represents the spirit, suffers from a positive mother complex. Mercutio, the trickster, the dark side of the puer, represents the body which is considered evil by Christianity, and has a disturbed relation to the feminine. Hence he compensates for, completes, and gives body to Romeo who is otherwise nothing but the spirit. Being the evil component, Mercutio is essential to the individuation process, and with his simultaneous resistance to and what seems to be an unconscious identification with the feminine, Mercutio serves as a medium through which Shakespeare presents what we may now call, following Eugene Monick’s model, bisexual androgyny as an alternative to heroic masculinity. But this potential as embodied in Mercutio is wasted tragically by the heroic masculinity in Verona.
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