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Jungian Perspectives of Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Hamlet: Jungian Perspectives

The term consciousness refers to “one’s awareness of internal and external stimuli. The unconscious contains thoughts, memories, and desires that are well below the surface of awareness but that nonetheless exert great influence on behavior.”(Weiten) In the view of the Jungian analyst, there are two forces that drive Hamlet. One is his anima, which is the “personification of the feminine nature of a man’s unconscious”(Platania). The second is Hamlet’s desire to reach individuation, which will be discussed later. In reference to the anima, Platania states that “we experience the opposite sex as the lost part of our own selves.” There is in each man a feminine side hidden beneath his masculinity.

The mystery of Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a phantom of literary debate that has haunted readers throughout the centuries. Hamlet is a complete enigma; a puzzle scholars have tried to piece together since his introduction to the literary world. Throughout the course of Hamlet, the reader is constantly striving to rationalize Hamlet’s odd behavior, mostly through the play’s written text. In doing so, many readers mistakenly draw their conclusions based on the surface content of Hamlet’s statements and actions.

When drawing into question Hamlet’s actions as well as his reasons for acting, many assume that Hamlet himself is fully aware of his own motives. This assumption in itself produces the very matter in question. Take for example Hamlet’s hesitation to kill the king. Hamlet believes that his desire to kill King Claudius is driven by his fathers’ demand for revenge. If this were true, Hamlet would kill Claudius the moment he has the chance, if not the moment he knows for sure that Claudius is guilty of murdering his father. Why does Hamlet hesitate? One must call into question what Hamlet holds to be true. If Hamlet’s given motivation for killing the king is legitimate, then Claudius should die at about Act 3. Because Hamlet’s actions do not correspond with his given reasoning, one is forced to look for an alternate explanation for Hamlet’s behavior. In doing so, one will come to the conclusion that Hamlet is driven by forces other than what is obvious to the reader, as well as Hamlet himself. Given this example, one must denounce the assumption that Hamlet is aware of the forces that motivate him, and understand that Hamlet’s true motivation is unconscious This unconscious force is the true reason behind Hamlet’s mysterious behavior.

Comparing Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea

Comparing Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea

Jean Rhys obviously had Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre in mind while writing Wide Sargasso Sea. Each novel contains events that echo other events or themes in the other. The destruction of Coulibri at the beginning of Wide Sargasso Sea reminds the reader of the fire at Thornfield towards the end of Jane Eyre. While each scene refers to events in its own book and clarifies events in its companion, one cannot conclude that Rhys simply reconstructed Thornfield’s fall in Coulibri’s. Though they exhibit some similarities, to directly compare these two scenes without considering their impact on the novels as whole works would be ridiculous. Each scene’s main importance, and contribution to the overall intertextual meaning, lies elsewhere in the two works, not simply within the confines of the scenes themselves.

The similarities between the two fire scenes might lead one to suspect that they are in some way parallel, yet their differences discount this oversimplified view. Both fires are set by arsonists described as insane. Bronte’s Bertha is “the mad lady, who was as cunning as a witch” (Bronte 435). Rhys’s Antoinette recalls “a horrible noise sprang up” from the attacking freedmen, “like animals howling, but worse” (Rhys 38). This madness, however, serves different purposes for each scene. Bronte uses madness to further degrade Bertha to the level of bestiality and insanity, a theme which she develops from the very moment the character is introduced until her fiery death in the destruction of Thornfield. By reducing Bertha to a single dimension, Bronte uses Bertha not as a character but as a tool with which to manipulate the flow of the plot. Rhys, however, uses madness toward a diffe…

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…cott. “Fire and Eyre: Charlotte Bronte’s War of Earthly Elements.” The Brontes: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Ian Gregor. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1970. 110-36.

Macpherson, Pat. Reflecting on Jane Eyre. London: Routledge, 1989.

McLaughlin, M.B. “Past or Future Mindscapes: Pictures in Jane Eyre.” Victorian Newsletter 41 (1972): 22-24.

Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea. London: Penguin, 1968.

Sarvan, Charles. ¡§Flight, Entrapment, and Madness in Jean Rhys¡¦ Wide Sargasso Sea.¡¨ The International Fiction Review. Vol 26.1

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