The Appeasement of Ancestral Ghosts: Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Aeschylus’ Oresteia, 1st & 8th October 2022




Two-part webinar series with John Steiner and Ronald Britton, chaired by Michael Feldman – The Appeasement of Ancestral Ghosts: Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Aeschylus’ Oresteia

Saturday, 16:00 (UK Time). Tickets £30 for one session, £50 for both sessions – Book your place here

We are delighted to have John Steiner and Ron Britton presenting new papers in a two- part webinar series this autumn. John Steiner will explore mourning in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, followed the week after by Ron Britton examining the ego and super-ego in Aeschylus’ Oresteia.

Chaired by Michael Feldman, each event will consist of a paper presentation and discussion between the speakers and Chair, followed by questions from the audience.
Join us for these special webinars on two of the most compelling tragic dramas in Western literature.1st October: Turning Ancestral Ghosts into Ancestors: Mourning in Hamlet, by John Steiner

As Freud described, the vital work of mourning is obstructed if a lost object is concretely internalised, haunting the bereaved like an ancestral ghost demanding reparation and revenge. To mourn properly, one must do the difficult work of withdrawing projections, giving up the object, and allowing the ghost to return to its grave. The lost object lives on in the internal world, but now as a symbol: the ghosts become ancestors. Shakespeare’s Hamlet shows how painful the choice can be between identifying with ancestral values and defying them to articulate a personal point of view. The young Hamlet is spurred to revenge when he discovers that his dead father’s hatred of the new king and queen aligns with his own. However, this revenge is delayed by his capacity for introspection and empathic suffering, while his ability to think symbolically opens up a rich world of imagination, fantasy and dreaming.

8th October: ‘Time must have a stop’ – Ron Britton on the Oresteia

The Oresteia, by Greek tragedian Aeschylus, was described by Gilbert Murray as an, ‘attempt of a powerful mind to think out one of the deep, unresolved mysteries of life – the problem of Sin, Punishment and Forgiveness.’ This ‘unresolved mystery’ resurfaced in the European Renaissance, notably in the plays of Shakespeare, and has since also re-emerged in psychology. In psychoanalysis, it appears as the problem of the relationship between the ‘superego’ and the ‘ego’, and it was this that attracted Melanie Klein to write about the Oresteia late in life, while reviewing her ideas on the development of the superego. Ron Britton will examine how these ideas appear in the Oresteia, drawing on Klein’s thinking and his own psychoanalytic understanding.

John Steiner, Ron Britton and Michael Feldman are all Distinguished Fellows of the British Psychoanalytical Society. John Steiner and Ron Britton are recipients of the Sigourney Award. Michael Feldman is Chair of the Melanie Klein Trust.

Event Details

Date: 1st October and 8th of October 2022
Time: Starts promptly at 16:00 GMT (UK Time), duration approx 2 hours.
Online via Zoom: You will receive a Zoom link by email the day before the event
Tickets: £30 for one session, £50 for both sessions (for concessions, see below), including a link to a recording of the event valid for two weeks after the second webinar

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Edipo Re. Recensione di M. Trivisani