Psychoanalysis Freud Essay On Hamlet

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Shakespeare and Psychoanalysis

Behind Sigmund Freud’s desk chair in the Freud Museum London sits the central section of his library, his volumes of Shakespeare and Goethe. Shakespeare’s plays occupied a significant place on Sigmund Freud’s bookshelf for most of his life. He began reading Shakespeare when he was eight years old and quoted from the plays in letters to his friends, his colleagues and his beloved. He used lines from the plays to help him grasp difficult issues in his life such as failure and death.


Most significantly, Shakespeare’s plays are part of the raw material from which Freud constructed psychoanalysis. Themes, images, plots, and lines from the plays are woven throughout the foundational texts of psychoanalysis in a way that suggests their formative influence. Freud’s intertextual relationship with Shakespeare took many forms including quotation, allusion and literary interpretation. Some of the allusions are deeply embedded in Freud’s texts in a manner that even Freud may not have been aware of.

In the first half of the 20th century, when psychoanalysis was at the height of its influence, its concepts were applied to Hamlet, notably by Sigmund Freud, Ernest Jones, and Jacques Lacan, and these studies influenced theatrical productions. In his The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), Freud's analysis starts from the premise that "the play is built up on Hamlet's hesitations over fulfilling the task of revenge that is assigned to him; but its text offers no reasons or motives for these hesitations". After reviewing various literary theories, Freud concludes that Hamlet has an "Oedipal desire for his mother and the subsequent guilt [is] preventing him from murdering the man [Claudius] who has done what he unconsciously wanted to do". Confronted with his repressed desires, Hamlet realises that "he himself is literally no better than the sinner whom he is to punish". Freud suggests that Hamlet's apparent "distaste for sexuality"—articulated in his "nunnery" conversation with Ophelia—accords with this interpretation. This "distaste for sexuality" has sparked theories of Hamlet being what is now referred to as a homosexual or asexual. John Barrymore's long-running 1922 performance in New York, directed by Thomas Hopkins, "broke new ground in its Freudian approach to character", in keeping with the post-World War I rebellion against everything Victorian. He had a "blunter intention" than presenting the genteel, sweet prince of 19th-century tradition, imbuing his character with virility and lust.

Freud suggested that an unconscious oedipal conflict caused Hamlet's hesitations. (Artist: Eugène Delacroix 1844).

Beginning in 1910, with the publication of "The Oedipus-Complex as An Explanation of Hamlet's Mystery: Study in Motive," Ernest Jones—a psychoanalyst and Freud's biographer—developed Freud's ideas into a series of essays that culminated in his book Hamlet and Oedipus (1949). Influenced by Jones's psychoanalytic approach, several productions have portrayed the "closet scene", where Hamlet confronts his mother in her private quarters, in a sexual light. In this reading, Hamlet is disgusted by his mother's "incestuous" relationship with Claudius while simultaneously fearful of killing him, as this would clear Hamlet's path to his mother's bed. Ophelia's madness after her father's death may also be read through the Freudian lens: as a reaction to the death of her hoped-for lover, her father. She is overwhelmed by having her unfulfilled love for him so abruptly terminated and drifts into the oblivion of insanity. In 1937, Tyrone Guthrie directed Laurence Olivier in a Jones-inspired Hamlet at The Old Vic. Olivier later used some of these same ideas in his 1948 film version of the play.

In the 1950s, Lacan's structuralist theories about Hamlet were first presented in a series of seminars given in Paris and later published in "Desire and the Interpretation of Desire in Hamlet". Lacan postulated that the human psyche is determined by structures of language and that the linguistic structures of Hamlet shed light on human desire. His point of departure is Freud's Oedipal theories, and the central theme of mourning that runs through Hamlet. In Lacan's analysis, Hamlet unconsciously assumes the role of phallus—the cause of his inaction—and is increasingly distanced from reality "by mourning, fantasy, narcissism and psychosis", which create holes (or lack) in the real, imaginary, and symbolic aspects of his psyche. Lacan's theories influenced literary criticism of Hamlet because of his alternative vision of the play and his use of semantics to explore the play's psychological landscape.


In the Bloom's Shakespeare Through the Ages volume on Hamlet, editors Bloom and Foster express a conviction that the intentions of Shakespeare in portraying the character of Hamlet in the play exceeded the capacity of the Freudian Oedipus complex to completely encompass the extent of characteristics depicted in Hamlet throughout the tragedy: "For once, Freud regressed in attempting to fasten the Oedipus Complex upon Hamlet: it will not stick, and merely showed that Freud did better than T.S. Eliot, who preferred Coriolanus to Hamlet, or so he said. Who can believe Eliot, when he exposes his own Hamlet Complex by declaring the play to be an aesthetic failure?"The book also notes James Joyce's interpretation, stating that he "did far better in the Library Scene of Ulysses, where Stephen marvelously credits Shakespeare, in this play, with universal fatherhood while accurately implying that Hamlet is fatherless, thus opening a pragmatic gap between Shakespeare and Hamlet."

Joshua Rothman has written in The New Yorker that "we tell the story wrong when we say that Freud used the idea of the Oedipus complex to understand Hamlet". Rothman suggests that "it was the other way around: Hamlet helped Freud understand, and perhaps even invent, psychoanalysis". He concludes, "The Oedipus complex is a misnomer. It should be called the 'Hamlet complex'."

In the essay "Hamlet Made Simple", David P. Gontar turns the tables on the psychoanalysts by suggesting that Claudius is not a symbolic father figure but actually Prince Hamlet's biological father. The hesitation in killing Claudius results from an unwillingness on Hamlet's part to slay his real father. If Hamlet is the biological son of Claudius, that explains many things. Hamlet doesn't become King of Denmark on the occasion of the King's death inasmuch as it is an open secret in court that he is Claudius's biological son, and as such he is merely a court bastard not in the line of succession. He is angry with his mother because of her long standing affair with a man Hamlet hates, and Hamlet must face the fact that he has been sired by the man he loathes. That point overturns T. S. Eliot's complaint that the play is a failure for not furnishing an "objective correlative" to account for Hamlet's rage at his mother. Gontar suggests that if the reader assumes that Hamlet is not who he seems to be, the objective correlative becomes apparent. Hamlet is suicidal in the first soliloquy not because his mother quickly remarries but because of her adulterous affair with the despised Claudius which makes Hamlet his son. Finally, the Ghost's confirmation of an alternative fatherhood for Hamlet is a fabrication that gives the Prince a motive for revenge.

Selected books on Shakespeare and Psychoanalysis:




Psychoanalysis of Hamlet

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Hamlet has been praised and revered for centuries as one of William Shakespeare’s best known and most popular tragedies. Based on its popularity, critics alike have taken various viewpoints and theories in order to explain Hamlet’s actions throughout the play. The psychoanalytic point of view is one of the most famous positions taken on Hamlet. Psychoanalytic criticism is a type of literary criticism that analyzes and classifies many of the forms of psychoanalysis in the interpretation of literature. As the Concise Oxford Dictionary defines psychoanalysis, as a form of therapy that is concluced ? y investigating the interaction of conscious and unconscious elements in the mind’ (Barry 96). One of the most popularized psychoanalysts of all time was Sigmund Freud. His theories on repression most directly parallel to Hamlet’s actions in the play. This theory states that “much of what lies in the unconscious mind has been put there by consciousness, which acts as a censor, driving underground unconscious or conscious thoughts or instincts that it deems unacceptable. Censored materials often involve infantile sexual desires” (Murfin ).

These unconscious desires are seen in dreams, in language, in creative activity, and in neurotic behavior (Murfin ). This theory of repression also is directly correlated to Freud’s Oedipus complex. The Oedipus complex deals with Infantile sexuality as well, by explaining that sexuality starts at infancy with the relationship of the infant with the mother, not at puberty. The Oedipus complex assesses that the infant has the desire to discard the father and become the sexual companion of the mother (Barry 97). In analyzing Hamlet, the Oedipus Complex is clearly apparent to the reader.

As a child, Hamlet always expressed the warmest fondness and affection for his mother. This adoration contained elements of disguised erotic quality, especially seen in the bed chamber scene with his mother. The Queen’s sensual nature and her passionate fondness of her son are two traits that show her relationship with Hamlet goes beyond the normal mother-sun relationship. Nonetheless though, Hamlet finds a love interest in Ophelia. His feelings for Ophelia are never discussed fully in the play, but it is evident to the reader that at one time he loved her because of the hurt he feels when she lies to him.

At this part in the play, Hamlet insults Ophelia by telling her, “Or if/ thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool, for wise men know/ well enough what monsters you make o f them. To a /nunn’ry, go, and quickly too” (3. 1. 136-139). At this part in the play, it is extremely difficult for Hamlet to differentiate between his mother and Ophelia. Therefore, making his true feelings for his mother become more obscure. When Hamlet’s father dies and his mother re-marries, the independency of the idea of sexuality with his mother, concealed since infancy, can no longer be hid from his consciousness.

Emotions which were favorable and pleasing at infancy are now emotions of abhorrence and disgust because of his repressions (Jones). In the beginning of the play he becomes extremely derisive and contemptuous to his mother. “Seems, madam? Nay, it is, I know not “seems. ” (1. 2. 76). When Hamlet says this, he is mocking his mother’s question about why he is still mourning his father’s death. Ironically, out of the love he still has for his mother, he yields her request to remain at the court.

The long “repressed” need to take his father’s place, by gaining his mother’s devotion is first stimulated to unconscious activity by the marriage of his mother to Claudius. Claudius has usurped the position of husband to Gertrude, a position that Hamlet had once longed for. The fact that Claudius was not only the victor o fhis mother’s affections, but also his uncle, aggravated the situation. Their incestuous marriage thus resembles Hamlet’s imaginary idea of having a sexual relationship with his mother. These unconscious desires are struggling to find conscious expression, without Hamlet being the least aware of them (Jones).

As the play goes on, Hamlet encounters his father’s ghost. Upon discovering that his father’s death wasn’t natural, he says with much feeling that “Haste me to know’t, that I with wings as swift/ As meditation, or the thoughts of love,/ May sweep to my revenge” (1. 5. 29-31). The ghost tells him that he was murdered by Claudius. His motives were his love for Gertrude, without her knowledge or consent. Hamlet is furious and seething with rage with the news of his father’s murder. Knowing the truth makes Hamlet’s subconscious realize that killing Claudius would be similar to killing himself.

This is so because Hamlet recognizes that Claudius’ actions of murdering his brother and marrying Hamlet’s mother, mimicked Hamlet’s inner unconscious desires. Hamlet’s unconscious fantasies have always been closely related to Claudius’ conduct. All of Hamlet’s once hidden feelings seem to surface in spite of all of the “repressing forces,” when he cries out, “Oh my prophetic soul! / My uncle! ” (1. 5. 40-41). From here, Hamlet’s consciousness must deal with the frightful truth (Jones). Therefore, when dealing with Claudius, Hamlet’s attitude is extremely complex and intricate.

The concepts of death and sexuality are interchangeable in this play (Adelman 271). To the reader, it is evident that Hamlet hates his uncle, but his despise of Claudius comes more from his jealousy than from anything else. The more Hamlet criticizes Claudius, the more his unconscious feelings start to unravel. Hence, Hamlet is faced with a dilemma by acknowledging the same feelings his uncle has towards his mother, even though he detests Claudius, and yet on the other hand, he feels the need to avenge his father’s death (Jones). It takes Hamlet a month to decide to finally take action against Claudius.

Hamlet tells Horatio that “Come, some music! Come, the recorders! / For if the King like not the comedy,/ Why then belike he likes it not, perdy” (3. 2. 276-279). After this scene in the play, Hamlet is convinced of Claudius’ guilt, but his own guilt prevents him from completely eliminating his uncle. Hamlet is still trying to “repress” his own sexual desires. It could be construed that Claudius manifests all of Hamlet’s passions and emotions. If Claudius is killed, then Hamlet must also be killed(Jones). The course of action that Hamlet pursues can only lead to his ruin.

In the end of the play, Hamlet is finally willing to make the ultimate sacrifice: to avenge his father’s death and to kill his uncle, as well as part of himself. Hamlet will live on forever in the literary world. It has become extremely popular and famous because the reader can analyze the play from a diverse and countless number of ways. Psychoanalytic criticism is one of many ways of looking at Hamlet’s actions. Freud and other theorists were able to take the play and analyze it scene by scene, giving a more in-depth meaning to the actions of the characters.

In a sense, Shakespeare wrote two plays in one; one play dealing with a tragedy, leaving the stage with many corpses; the other standing the test of time, in a captivating exploration into an unconscious world of the unknown. Works Cited Adelman, Janet. “Man and Wife is One Flesh:” Hamlet and the Confrontation with the Maternal Body. Hamlet. Ed. Susanne L. Wofford. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1994. Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory. New York: Manchester University Press. 1995. Jones, Ernest. “Ernest Jones: Hamlet and Oedipus. ” N. pag. Online. Worldwide web. 21 May 2000. Available at: http://click. o2net. com/adpopup? site=hm&shape=noshape&border=1&area=DIR. EDU. HIGHER&sizerepopup=1&hname=UNKNOWN Murfin, Ross C. “Psychoanalytic Criticism in Hamlet. ” Hamlet. Ed. Susanne L. Wofford. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1994. Shakespear, William. Hamlet. Ed. Susanne L. Wofford. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1994. Hamlet has been praised and revered for centuries as one of William Shakespeare’s best known and most popular tragedies. Based on its popularity, critics alike have taken various viewpoints and theories in order to explain Hamlet’s actions throughout the play.

The psychoanalytic point of view is one of the most famous positions taken on Hamlet. Psychoanalytic criticism is a type of literary criticism that analyzes and classifies many of the forms of psychoanalysis in the interpretation of literature. As the Concise Oxford Dictionary defines psychoanalysis, as a form of therapy that is concluced ? by investigating the interaction of conscious and unconscious elements in the mind’ (Barry 96). One of the most popularized psychoanalysts of all time was Sigmund Freud.

His theories on repression most directly parallel to Hamlet’s actions in the play. This theory states that “much of what lies in the unconscious mind has been put there by consciousness, which acts as a censor, driving underground unconscious or conscious thoughts or instincts that it deems unacceptable. Censored materials often involve infantile sexual desires” (Murfin ). These unconscious desires are seen in dreams, in language, in creative activity, and in neurotic behavior (Murfin ). This theory of repression also is directly correlated to Freud’s Oedipus complex.

The Oedipus complex deals with Infantile sexuality as well, by explaining that sexuality starts at infancy with the relationship of the infant with the mother, not at puberty. The Oedipus complex assesses that the infant has the desire to discard the father and become the sexual companion of the mother (Barry 97). In analyzing Hamlet, the Oedipus Complex is clearly apparent to the reader. As a child, Hamlet always expressed the warmest fondness and affection for his mother. This adoration contained elements of disguised erotic quality, especially seen in the bed chamber scene with his mother.

The Queen’s sensual nature and her passionate fondness of her son are two traits that show her relationship with Hamlet goes beyond the normal mother-sun relationship. Nonetheless though, Hamlet finds a love interest in Ophelia. His feelings for Ophelia are never discussed fully in the play, but it is evident to the reader that at one time he loved her because of the hurt he feels when she lies to him. At this part in the play, Hamlet insults Ophelia by telling her, “Or if/ thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool, for wise men know/ well enough what monsters you make o f them. To a /nunn’ry, go, and quickly too” (3. 1. 136-139).

At this part in the play, it is extremely difficult for Hamlet to differentiate between his mother and Ophelia. Therefore, making his true feelings for his mother become more obscure. When Hamlet’s father dies and his mother re-marries, the independency of the idea of sexuality with his mother, concealed since infancy, can no longer be hid from his consciousness. Emotions which were favorable and pleasing at infancy are now emotions of abhorrence and disgust because of his repressions (Jones). In the beginning of the play he becomes extremely derisive and contemptuous to his mother. “Seems, madam? Nay, it is, I know not “seems. (1. 2. 76). When Hamlet says this, he is mocking his mother’s question about why he is still mourning his father’s death. Ironically, out of the love he still has for his mother, he yields her request to remain at the court. The long “repressed” need to take his father’s place, by gaining his mother’s devotion is first stimulated to unconscious activity by the marriage of his mother to Claudius. Claudius has usurped the position of husband to Gertrude, a position that Hamlet had once longed for. The fact that Claudius was not only the victor o fhis mother’s affections, but also his uncle, aggravated the situation.

Their incestuous marriage thus resembles Hamlet’s imaginary idea of having a sexual relationship with his mother. These unconscious desires are struggling to find conscious expression, without Hamlet being the least aware of them (Jones). As the play goes on, Hamlet encounters his father’s ghost. Upon discovering that his father’s death wasn’t natural, he says with much feeling that “Haste me to know’t, that I with wings as swift/ As meditation, or the thoughts of love,/ May sweep to my revenge” (1. 5. 29-31). The ghost tells him that he was murdered by Claudius.

His motives were his love for Gertrude, without her knowledge or consent. Hamlet is furious and seething with rage with the news of his father’s murder. Knowing the truth makes Hamlet’s subconscious realize that killing Claudius would be similar to killing himself. This is so because Hamlet recognizes that Claudius’ actions of murdering his brother and marrying Hamlet’s mother, mimicked Hamlet’s inner unconscious desires. Hamlet’s unconscious fantasies have always been closely related to Claudius’ conduct. All of Hamlet’s once hidden feelings seem to surface in spite of all of the “repressing orces,” when he cries out, “Oh my prophetic soul! / My uncle! ” (1. 5. 40-41). From here, Hamlet’s consciousness must deal with the frightful truth (Jones). Therefore, when dealing with Claudius, Hamlet’s attitude is extremely complex and intricate. The concepts of death and sexuality are interchangeable in this play (Adelman 271). To the reader, it is evident that Hamlet hates his uncle, but his despise of Claudius comes more from his jealousy than from anything else. The more Hamlet criticizes Claudius, the more his unconscious feelings start to unravel.

Hence, Hamlet is faced with a dilemma by acknowledging the same feelings his uncle has towards his mother, even though he detests Claudius, and yet on the other hand, he feels the need to avenge his father’s death (Jones). It takes Hamlet a month to decide to finally take action against Claudius. Hamlet tells Horatio that “Come, some music! Come, the recorders! / For if the King like not the comedy,/ Why then belike he likes it not, perdy” (3. 2. 276-279). After this scene in the play, Hamlet is convinced of Claudius’ guilt, but his own guilt prevents him from completely eliminating his uncle.

Hamlet is still trying to “repress” his own sexual desires. It could be construed that Claudius manifests all of Hamlet’s passions and emotions. If Claudius is killed, then Hamlet must also be killed(Jones). The course of action that Hamlet pursues can only lead to his ruin. In the end of the play, Hamlet is finally willing to make the ultimate sacrifice: to avenge his father’s death and to kill his uncle, as well as part of himself. Hamlet will live on forever in the literary world. It has become extremely popular and famous because the reader can analyze the play from a diverse and countless number of ways.

Psychoanalytic criticism is one of many ways of looking at Hamlet’s actions. Freud and other theorists were able to take the play and analyze it scene by scene, giving a more in-depth meaning to the actions of the characters. In a sense, Shakespeare wrote two plays in one; one play dealing with a tragedy, leaving the stage with many corpses; the other standing the test of time, in a captivating exploration into an unconscious world of the unknown. Works Cited Adelman, Janet. “Man and Wife is One Flesh:” Hamlet and the Confrontation with the Maternal Body. Hamlet.

Ed. Susanne L. Wofford. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1994. Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory. New York: Manchester University Press. 1995. Jones, Ernest. “Ernest Jones: Hamlet and Oedipus. ” N. pag. Online. Worldwide web. 21 May 2000. Available at: http://click. go2net. com/adpopup? site=hm&shape=noshape&border=1&area=DIR. EDU. HIGHER&sizerepopup=1&hname=UNKNOWN Murfin, Ross C. “Psychoanalytic Criticism in Hamlet. ” Hamlet. Ed. Susanne L. Wofford. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1994. Shakespear, William. Hamlet. Ed. Susanne L.

Wofford. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1994. Hamlet has been praised and revered for centuries as one of William Shakespeare’s best known and most popular tragedies. Based on its popularity, critics alike have taken various viewpoints and theories in order to explain Hamlet’s actions throughout the play. The psychoanalytic point of view is one of the most famous positions taken on Hamlet. Psychoanalytic criticism is a type of literary criticism that analyzes and classifies many of the forms of psychoanalysis in the interpretation of literature.

As the Concise Oxford Dictionary defines psychoanalysis, as a form of therapy that is concluced ? by investigating the interaction of conscious and unconscious elements in the mind’ (Barry 96). One of the most popularized psychoanalysts of all time was Sigmund Freud. His theories on repression most directly parallel to Hamlet’s actions in the play. This theory states that “much of what lies in the unconscious mind has been put there by consciousness, which acts as a censor, driving underground unconscious or conscious thoughts or instincts that it deems unacceptable.

Censored materials often involve infantile sexual desires” (Murfin ). These unconscious desires are seen in dreams, in language, in creative activity, and in neurotic behavior (Murfin ). This theory of repression also is directly correlated to Freud’s Oedipus complex. The Oedipus complex deals with Infantile sexuality as well, by explaining that sexuality starts at infancy with the relationship of the infant with the mother, not at puberty. The Oedipus complex assesses that the infant has the desire to discard the father and become the sexual companion of the mother (Barry 97).

In analyzing Hamlet, the Oedipus Complex is clearly apparent to the reader. As a child, Hamlet always expressed the warmest fondness and affection for his mother. This adoration contained elements of disguised erotic quality, especially seen in the bed chamber scene with his mother. The Queen’s sensual nature and her passionate fondness of her son are two traits that show her relationship with Hamlet goes beyond the normal mother-sun relationship. Nonetheless though, Hamlet finds a love interest in Ophelia.

His feelings for Ophelia are never discussed fully in the play, but it is evident to the reader that at one time he loved her because of the hurt he feels when she lies to him. At this part in the play, Hamlet insults Ophelia by telling her, “Or if/ thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool, for wise men know/ well enough what monsters you make o f them. To a /nunn’ry, go, and quickly too” (3. 1. 136-139). At this part in the play, it is extremely difficult for Hamlet to differentiate between his mother and Ophelia. Therefore, making his true feelings for his mother become more obscure.

When Hamlet’s father dies and his mother re-marries, the independency of the idea of sexuality with his mother, concealed since infancy, can no longer be hid from his consciousness. Emotions which were favorable and pleasing at infancy are now emotions of abhorrence and disgust because of his repressions (Jones). In the beginning of the play he becomes extremely derisive and contemptuous to his mother. “Seems, madam? Nay, it is, I know not “seems. ” (1. 2. 76). When Hamlet says this, he is mocking his mother’s question about why he is still mourning his father’s death.

Ironically, out of the love he still has for his mother, he yields her request to remain at the court. The long “repressed” need to take his father’s place, by gaining his mother’s devotion is first stimulated to unconscious activity by the marriage of his mother to Claudius. Claudius has usurped the position of husband to Gertrude, a position that Hamlet had once longed for. The fact that Claudius was not only the victor o fhis mother’s affections, but also his uncle, aggravated the situation. Their incestuous marriage thus resembles Hamlet’s imaginary idea of having a sexual relationship with his mother.

These unconscious desires are struggling to find conscious expression, without Hamlet being the least aware of them (Jones). As the play goes on, Hamlet encounters his father’s ghost. Upon discovering that his father’s death wasn’t natural, he says with much feeling that “Haste me to know’t, that I with wings as swift/ As meditation, or the thoughts of love,/ May sweep to my revenge” (1. 5. 29-31). The ghost tells him that he was murdered by Claudius. His motives were his love for Gertrude, without her knowledge or consent. Hamlet is furious and seething with rage with the news of his father’s murder.

Knowing the truth makes Hamlet’s subconscious realize that killing Claudius would be similar to killing himself. This is so because Hamlet recognizes that Claudius’ actions of murdering his brother and marrying Hamlet’s mother, mimicked Hamlet’s inner unconscious desires. Hamlet’s unconscious fantasies have always been closely related to Claudius’ conduct. All of Hamlet’s once hidden feelings seem to surface in spite of all of the “repressing forces,” when he cries out, “Oh my prophetic soul! / My uncle! ” (1. 5. 40-41). From here, Hamlet’s consciousness must deal with the frightful truth (Jones).

Therefore, when dealing with Claudius, Hamlet’s attitude is extremely complex and intricate. The concepts of death and sexuality are interchangeable in this play (Adelman 271). To the reader, it is evident that Hamlet hates his uncle, but his despise of Claudius comes more from his jealousy than from anything else. The more Hamlet criticizes Claudius, the more his unconscious feelings start to unravel. Hence, Hamlet is faced with a dilemma by acknowledging the same feelings his uncle has towards his mother, even though he detests Claudius, and yet on the other hand, he feels the need to avenge his father’s death (Jones).

It takes Hamlet a month to decide to finally take action against Claudius. Hamlet tells Horatio that “Come, some music! Come, the recorders! / For if the King like not the comedy,/ Why then belike he likes it not, perdy” (3. 2. 276-279). After this scene in the play, Hamlet is convinced of Claudius’ guilt, but his own guilt prevents him from completely eliminating his uncle. Hamlet is still trying to “repress” his own sexual desires. It could be construed that Claudius manifests all of Hamlet’s passions and emotions.

If Claudius is killed, then Hamlet must also be killed(Jones). The course of action that Hamlet pursues can only lead to his ruin. In the end of the play, Hamlet is finally willing to make the ultimate sacrifice: to avenge his father’s death and to kill his uncle, as well as part of himself. Hamlet will live on forever in the literary world. It has become extremely popular and famous because the reader can analyze the play from a diverse and countless number of ways. Psychoanalytic criticism is one of many ways of looking at Hamlet’s actions.

Freud and other theorists were able to take the play and analyze it scene by scene, giving a more in-depth meaning to the actions of the characters. In a sense, Shakespeare wrote two plays in one; one play dealing with a tragedy, leaving the stage with many corpses; the other standing the test of time, in a captivating exploration into an unconscious world of the unknown. Works Cited Adelman, Janet. “Man and Wife is One Flesh:” Hamlet and the Confrontation with the Maternal Body. Hamlet. Ed. Susanne L. Wofford. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1994.

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Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory. New York: Manchester University Press. 1995. Jones, Ernest. “Ernest Jones: Hamlet and Oedipus. ” N. pag. Online. Worldwide web. 21 May 2000. Available at: http://click. go2net. com/adpopup? site=hm&shape=noshape&border=1&area=DIR. EDU. HIGHER&sizerepopup=1&hname=UNKNOWN Murfin, Ross C. “Psychoanalytic Criticism in Hamlet. ” Hamlet. Ed. Susanne L. Wofford. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1994. Shakespear, William. Hamlet. Ed. Susanne L. Wofford. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1994.

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