AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 8, Number 1. February 2024 Pp.173-183

Unmasking the Psyche of Shakespeare’s Richard III and Lady Macbeth through Freud’s “The Uncanny”

Department of English, College of Language Sciences
King Saud University, Saudi Arabia, Riyadh


Richard III and Lady Macbeth are often portrayed as complex and paradoxical Shakespearean characters, reflecting the human psyche’s complexity. This paper examines two Shakespearean characters, Richard III and Lady Macbeth, within a psychoanalytical framework centered around Freud’s concept of the uncanny. It addresses research questions about the interaction between cunning schemes and complex dynamics shaping characters’ psyches, such as how the idea of the uncanny aids in comprehending the similar roles that both Lady Macbeth and Richard III play in each play. How can we define Lady Macbeth’s role? And how can we interpret Richard III’s evil deeds? The analysis aims to understand Lady Macbeth’s role and interpret Richard III’s evil deeds in the play. Uncanny situations reveal low self-esteem and dissatisfaction, blurring the line between reality and deceit.  The analysis reflects the way Shakespeare took advantage of the characters’ trauma and fear to create specific flaws in his characters that would make them relatable to the audience. The use of soliloquies and ghosts reveals the relationship between uncanny situations and the characters’ psyche. Both Richard III and Lady Macbeth grapple with guilt and conscience, which highlights the thematic parallels between the two characters.

Cite as:

AlShalan, A. (2024). Unmasking the Psyche of Shakespeare’s Richard III and Lady Macbeth through Freud’s “The Uncanny”. Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 8 (1): 173-183.


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Amjad AlShalan is an assistant professor at King Saud University. She specializes in Samuel Beckett, and her research interests cover the Saudi reader, archival studies, visual analysis within literary criticism, modern and contemporary theatre among others.
ORCID ID is https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7200-3206