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Identity and individuation - images of alchemy in Ann-Marie MacDonald's "Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)"

Florian B

on 23 June 2010

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Alchemy of the Unconscious Identity and individuation - images of alchemy in Ann-Marie MacDonald's GOODNIGHT DESDEMONA (GOOD MORNING JULIET) ANIMUS SHADOW nigredo / calcinatio rubedo / sublimatio citrinitas / coagulatio albedo / solutio Alchemy alchemy as science alchemy as philosophy alchemy as leitmotif in literature The Unconscious Jungian archetypes SELF what we - 'truly' - are. what we don't like or realize to being.
what we unconsciously surpress. ANIMA unconscious collection of male / female attributes of the self. EGO who we 'think' we are who we feel comfortable being turning base metal into gold
pseudo-science even then
precursor of modern chemistry philosophy of transformation
pursuit of purity
death and rebirth: shaping of identity closely related to philosophy
"a matter of themes and patterns, symbols and terminologies"
popular topic in Shakespeare's day
Individuation process as important part of modern fiction "The chemical process of calcination entails the intense heating of a solid in order to drive off water and all other constituents that will volatilize."
(anatomy of the psyche, p17) dumbshow & act I the Elements and chemical apparatus are brought on stage Constance's 'impurity' is shown The Gustav Manuscript (=Jungian Individuation)
is introduced the chorus as metaphysical Alchemist AM I GOING SOMEWHERE?
(Constance, act I, scene i) Shadows are revealed -
Dissonance between Ego and Self "solutio turns a solid into a liquid. The solid seems to disappear into the solvent as if it had been swallowed up."
(anatomy of the psyche, p47) act II, scene i
act III, scene i Constance is dissolved into her hypothetical versions of Shakespeare's plays
(language / clothes!)
threatening of previous Ego by confron-tation with Animus and Anima DESDEMONA:

CONSTANCE: LEARN TO KILL. NO! (act II, scene i) PRIMA MATERIA (='the first matter'), a formless base that a body must be reduced to before the transformation can take place "water was thought of as the womb and solutio as a return to the womb for rebirth"
(p47) "Coagulatio is the process that turns something into earth. A solid that has been dissolved in a solvent reappears when the solvent is evaporated."
(anatomy of the psyche, p.84) act II
act III i-viii Gradually, Constance adapts qualities and mannerisms of her characters. Realization of Self by exposure to Archetypes: preparation for rebirth The warrior, the lover
and the author citrinitas: the 'yellowing' act.
turning silver into gold. CONSTANCE: GHOST: WHO ARE YOU? WHO ARE YOU-OU-OU? (act III, scene vi) "The crucial feature of sublimatio is an elevating process whereby a low substance is translated into a higher form by an ascending movement. [...] The higher we go, the grander and more comprehensive is our perspective."
(Alchemy of the Unconcious, p 117, 118) act III, scene ix
epilogue "TYLBALT arranges CONSTANCE upon a raised slab in the crypt." Final confrontation between Constance, Desdemona and Juliet Desdemona is "gullible and violent", Juliet is "more in love with death". "I'm the fool! [...] I'm the author!"

Re-evaluation of Archetypes after
transformation has taken place Sublimatio of Constance-Desdemona-Juliet trinity Rebirth of Constance
Rubedo: The red dawn and awakening Wholeness of Self: The Philosopher's Stone Happy Birthday Constance. DESDEMONA
&JULIET (act III, scene ix) "The alchemist dissolves, disintegrates and 'kills' his matter in order to regenerate it in altered form. In the course of this chemical assault, the opposites within matter are released, distinguished and then 'married' together."
(Charles Nicholl, The Chemical Theatre, p41) "Alchemy has made it possible for me to describe the individuation process at least in its essential aspects."
(Carl Gustav Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, p792) "But if we push the alchemical and Jungian concepts aside, the story still stands - perfectly - as a re-visioning of some of Shakespeare's best characters."
(Banuta Rubess, Goodnight Desdemona (Good morning Juliet), Introduction xiii) Thank you for listening. OPUS prima materia Philosopher's stone
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