Using Freud's Psychology to Analyze Shakespeare's Hamlet

Using Freud's Psychology to Analyze Shakespeare's Hamlet
Using Freud?s Psychology to Analyze Shakespeare?s Hamlet Psychology is not a new concept to human civilization. People have
been interacting between each other creating cause and effect
reactions between themselves since the creation of man. These
reactions can have tremendous impacts on both parties involved in
these relationships. How they deal with these reactions can be
analyzed in a psychological manner. Scientists have been analyzing
these relationships since the 1800s, and one of the most influential
psychologists was a man named Dr. Sigmund Freud. This paper shall use
one of Dr. Freud?s theories to analyze one of the most famous
characters in English literature. That character is William
Shakespeare?s Hamlet.
One of Freud?s most interesting theories was that of the Oedipus complex (this theory also has many other similar names, such Oedipal, etc.). The term was named after a character in a Greek play written by Sophocles about an ancient Greek king, Oedipus, who mistakenly killed his father and married his mother, with whom he was deeply in love with. The Oedipal stage was one of Freud?s psychosexual stages of development in a child, which came after the oral and anal stages and before the puberty stage. However, if an individual did not completely overcome a certain stage in his or her development, that individual would attempt, be it in a conscious or unconscious manner, to complete this stage at another point in his or her life. Associated in this stage was the need for a son to feel loved by his mother. The son would do anything to be caressed by his mother, to be kissed, hugged, or generally to feel loved and needed. This type of love is very sexual in nature, something that every mammal is accustomed with, be it known or unknown to the true nature of the child. However, the child?s mother cannot love him constantly because another male other than the child loves her. This other man in the mother?s life is the child?s father. He is privileged to sleep with the mother in a separate bed and love her there, when the child is forced to sleep in his own bed alone. This creates a feeling of jealousy within the child, which turns into a form of hate towards the father. The child would do anything within his means to replace his father and become his mother?s individual attention receiver. The boy?s own father therefore becomes his archenemy. Ask anyone who Hamlet?s archenemy was and they will respond quite simply, King Claudius. Claudius was a man who committed two great atrocities against Hamlet: the killing his father and quickly thereafter marrying his mother. Hamlet would of course feel quite enraged by either of these actions, but the combination of the two would truly be enough to cause him serious psychological trauma. The loss of a parent causes hurtful feelings in any child; feelings of sorrow for the loss but also feelings of hatred toward the person responsible for the death. Furthermore, the child is bound to feel hatred towards the person replacing his father?s role as caregiver for his mother. This role is multiplied with the fact that Claudius is taking over the role as King of Denmark, one that is rightfully Hamlet?s. The fact that Claudius was Hamlet?s uncle did not make the situation any better. Hamlet however, is a very honorable man and is not capable of murder simply through succumbing to his intense feelings of jealously. He feels that he must have a valid, justifiable cause to murder his new ?father? figure. In the process of waiting for a suitable time to act on these emotions, Hamlet grows increasingly angry with himself for not being forceful enough to take care of his problems. This causes Hamlet to grow somewhat ?mad?. Some have argued that Hamlet was putting ion this act of madness this madness as a strategy to gain information about his father?s death from Claudius. However, it is quite obvious that because of Hamlet?s intense feelings he could have been genuinely suffering from a mental disorder involving the Oedipus complex. Hamlet obviously had issues that he refused to resolve until the time was ?right? for him. He envied people who were able to resolve their own issues on a simple emotional whim, because he was unable to accomplish this. The play does not have a truly happy ending. Hamlet does resolve his own personal issues with himself and is delighted with the death of his mother?s lover. Hamlet and his mother are also killed, however. Hamlet does not receive a chance to live out his dream of providing for his mother and seizing the power similar to that power previously held by his father. However, the truth of his biological father?s death is revealed, so Hamlet felt some relief knowing that his personal reputation withheld honor throughout the kingdom and his ego could be fulfilled before his death. Hamlet and the character Oedipus share some very similar characteristics. They both feel a very strong compulsion to act out their most infantile fantasies. The most prevalent of these fantasies is the act of killing their fathers to gain the power of ruling a nation (which they possessed) with their mother?s by their side. Hamlet?s and Oedipus? minds also act on analysis and interpretation on a main degree of thinking. Each and every move that they make must be totally analyzed to determine any possible counteraction they may create. They are truly individual because their unique intelligence separates them from the other characters with whom they are manipulating. Hamlet suffered from a mental disorder. The possibility of him being involved with the Oedipus complex is quite likely as his character does reflect the character of Sophacrates? Oedipus in many ways. His childish passions could have been the reason for his inability to take revenge throughout the play and perhaps even the reason for his own death. If Hamlet had killed his stepfather earlier in the play, he would have succeeded in his ultimate infantile goal of capturing his father?s power and providing for his mother. Because of his dysfunction, he did not succeed and ultimately it was the instrument of his own death.

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