A Study of the Archetype of the Sacrificial Scapegoat in Thomas Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy, Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth, and Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

By Saeed Yazdani and Zahra Farivar.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The influence of archetypes on literary works is an important concern of mythological and
archetypal literary criticism. Archetypes are part of the cumulative knowledge and experience of the
human race. On the other hand, drama exploits religious concepts like fate, the wrath of the gods, divinity,
and so forth that are embedded in these rites. The sacrifice of a scapegoat is one of the primitive
rituals that exploited the dramatic forms of performance. Other primitive rites, subcategorized under
the concept of archetypes, also benefited from dramatic actions and forms and were able to be transmitted
publicly through the ages. Since drama serves as a bridge between the audience and the
dramatist’s mind, a proper knowledge of archetypes and their impact on a literary work, and drama
in particular, would increase the influence it might have on the audience. This article intends to study
the archetype of the scapegoat and its impact on plays belonging to different periods, beginning with
the classic dramas of Thomas Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy, Shakespeare’s tragedies Hamlet and Macbeth,
and a modern play, Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid
of Virginia Woolf? Serves as a new literary form that expounds on an old archetype. It challenges
situations created by the characters’ deviation from conventional norms. But, gradually, their transgression
from the culturally and socially accepted norms creates disturbing conditions that make their
lives unbearable. They ultimately find a way to remove their tension and to restore their former
peaceful situation. In this process, they project their problem onto something that is different from
them and does not possess their common characteristics. Then they eliminate their blameless victim.
Here an old theme is introduced in a modern drama.

Keywords: Exorcism, Sacrifice, Scapegoat, Archetype, Collective Unconscious, Sacrificial, Psychological, Criticism, Mythological

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 10, pp.277-292. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 832.245KB).

Dr. Saeed Yazdani

Assistant Professor, English Department, Bushehr Branch, Islamic Azad University, Bushehr, Iran (Islamic Republic of)

Saeed Yazdani is an assistant professor in the Department of English Literature, Bushehr Branch, Islamic Azad University, Bushehr, Iran. He has participated in different international conferences. He has been teaching English Literature in different universities, and he has been supervising MA theses.

Zahra Farivar

M.A. Student, Dramatic Literature, Bushehr Branch, Islamic Azad University Iran, Bushehr, Iran (Islamic Republic of)

Department of Dramatic Literature, Bushehr Branch, Islamic Azad University, Bushehr, Iran.

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