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Failure to Thrive

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 September 2019

Emma Smith
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
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Summary

There are good breasts and bad ones, Melanie Klein proposes: mothers who nourish and mothers who thwart their offspring – those who hear a child’s cries and respond accordingly, and those who prompt cries, or punish them and walk away.2 Shakespeare takes pains to describe mothers of both stripes on his stage, setting the gentle but helpless figures of Lady Macduff and Hermione against Lady Macbeth and Volumnia, fierce women steeped in blood.3 Some mothers want to see their children grow and flourish, but alongside them the playwright places mothers who appear instead to wish their children ill.

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Shakespeare Survey 72 , pp. 183 - 199
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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