Essay on Hamlet and the Oedipus Complex
1319 Words6 Pages
When examining Hamlet through the lens of the Oedipus complex, it is critical to first define and thoroughly explain the Oedipus complex, then to apply it to Hamlet's relationships, before a final conclusion is reached.
The Complexities of the Complex
Before one can understand the Oedipus complex, one must understand Sigmund Freud's theory on infantile sexuality. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy points out that the roots of Freud's theory can be found in the work of an older colleague of Freud's, Josef Breuer. Breuer discovered that traumatic events in childhood could have destructive repercussions in adulthood. Freud generalized Breuer's discoveries and added that sexual…show more content…
The child now draws many conclusions from this. He will conclude that his father must have taken his mother's phallic away. Since the mother, in the child's mind, is being more or less controlled by the father, and the father still has his phallic, then the phallic is not just an organ, but a symbol of power over these "castrated men," called women. The boy now develops "castration anxiety," the fear that his father will take away his phallic, and make him more like his mother whom he sees as weak. His father is now his enemy, and he develops a deep "sexual" attraction to his mother, called the Oedipus complex. Freud taught that psychologically healthy boys overcame the complex, made the important decision, and at age 6, begin to bond with and attach to their fathers.
There are other ways this could play out. If the male child is denied the attachment it needs with his mother at a young age, he may not move on to bonding with his father, for he has not yet gotten over wanting to be with his mother. Also, if a mother or father is not present, the equation is altered. The father could be replaced with a strong male (or masculine) figure, as the mother could be replaced by another, nurturing female (or feminine)
Hamlet and the Oedipus Complex Essay
1229 Words5 Pages
Hamlet and the Oedipus Complex
William Shakespeare's play Hamlet contains very similar elements to Sophocles' Greek Myth, Oedipus Rex. In the late 1800s through early 1900s, a Doctor based out of Vienna, named Sigmund Freud, developed a theory based on the events of the play Oedipus Rex, which has since been coined the "Oedipus Complex." Ernest Jones also applied his knowledge of Freudian psychology and wrote a persuasive paper suggesting that Hamlet cannot kill his uncle Claudius because of his repressed feelings for his mother. In the story of Oedipus Rex, Oedipus fulfills a prophecy given to him, by killing his father Laius and by sleeping with his mother Jocasta. When Oedipus realizes he has fulfilled the prophecy he…show more content…
These desires are normally kept repressed within our subconscious. However, if our id gains control of our super-ego, then we act or behave accordingly. Both tragic characters suffered from Freud's classical interpretation of a child's love for their mother.
Throughout the play Hamlet, there are several hints that the young prince suffers from the Oedipus complex. Claudius is quoted, "The queen his mother lives almost by his looks," (Hamlet IV.vii.11-12) revealing a sense of closeness between Hamlet and his mother. This also reveals the need for Hamlet in his mother's life. Although Hamlet does love his mother, he is able to fall in love with Ophelia. Quite possibly, Hamlet saw qualities in Ophelia that resembled those of his mother, which would explain the early attraction between the two. Other more striking evidence is visible when the ghost or old Hamlet commands young Hamlet to, "Let thy soul contrive against thy mother." (Hamlet I.v.85-86) In this scene the ghost is trying to make sure that Hamlet keeps his impulses controlled, and will carefully plan a course of action upon his mother. However, the "Closet Scene" or Act 3 Scene 4 is key to understanding Hamlet's true feelings. In this scene the ghost reappears in order to prevent Hamlet from enacting his childhood fantasies with his mother Gertrude. Young Hamlet finally decides to confront his mother, and is extremely upset by the situation. However, instead of talking about his