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No Oedipal Complex Found in Hamlet

No Oedipal Complex Found in Hamlet

Some scholars have interpreted Hamlet’s actions throughout Hamlet to be the Oedipus complex. According to the story of Oedipus, Laius, his father, learned from an oracle that Oedipus would kill him. Laius then left his son to die on a mountain, where he was found and raised by the King of Corinth. Oedipus was also told that he would someday kill his own father, and fled Corinth because he believed that the King of Corinth was his real father. On Oedipus’s journey, he passes Laius on the road, they argue and Oedipus kills Laius, without even knowing Laius was his true father. Oedipus eventually marries his mother, Queen Jocasta, unaware of her true identity.

Sigmund Freud introduced the Oedipus complex, and his theory states that the individual suffers from a repressed sexual desire for the parent of the opposite sex while having a rivalry with the parent of the same sex. Many people see a connection between Hamlet and Oedipus. They insist Hamlet is in love with his mother and this is why he wants to kill Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle and Gertrude’s new husband. They contend that Hamlet’s “madness” is actually his repressed longing for his mother. Although Hamlet and Oedipus both kill their fathers, their actions are for different reasons. Hamlet loves his mother, but he is not in love with her or desire her sexually. The reason behind his anger towards Claudius is not due to feelings of jealousy, but because Claudius killed Hamlet’s father, whom he loved dearly. Hamlet does not suffer from an Oedipal complex.

Upon closer examinati…

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…p; “So excellent a king, that was to this Hyperion to a satyr,” (I.ii.143-144). Hamlet would not be regularly complimenting his father if he had ever been jealous of his relationship with Gertrude. Thus, Hamlet feels anger towards Claudius because he murdered Hamlet’s father, not for feelings of rivalry.

The Oedipus complex theory proposes that Hamlet desires his mother and wishes to kill his father because he is jealous of their closeness. This is not the case in Hamlet. Hamlet’s actions which follow the Oedipus complex are for completely different reasons than Freud’s theory states. Hamlet is not secretly in love with Gertrude, nor does he desire her physically. He also does not feel jealous of Claudius. Hamlet does not suffer from the Oedipus complex because he does not follow the pattern of this theory.

Free Oedipal Complex Essays: Hamlet and the Oedipus Complex

Hamlet and the Oedipus Complex

That Hamlet is suffering from an internal conflict the essential nature of which is inaccessible to his introspection is evidenced by the following considerations. Throughout the play we have the clearest picture of a man who sees his duty plain before him, but who shirks it at every opportunity and suffers in consequence the most intense remorse. To paraphrase Sir James Paget’s description of hysterical paralysis: Hamlet’s advocates say he cannot do his duty, his detractors say he will not, whereas the truth is that he cannot will. Further than this, the deficient willpower is localized to the question of killing his uncle; it is what may be termed a specific abulia. Now instances of such specific abulias in real life invariably prove, when analyzed, to be due to an unconscious repulsion against the act that cannot be performed (or else against something closely associated with the act, so that the idea of the act becomes also involved in the repulsion). In other words, whenever a person cannot bring himself to do something that every conscious consideration tells him he should do-and which he may have the strongest conscious desire to do-it is always because there is some hidden reason why a part of him doesn’t want to do it; this reason he will not own to himself and is only dimly if at all aware of. That is exactly the case with Hamlet.

It only remains to add the obvious corollary that, as the herd unquestionably selects from the “natural” instincts the sexual one on which to lay its heaviest ban, so it is the various psychosexual trends that are most often “repressed” by the individual. We have here the explanation of the clinical experience that the more intense and the more obscure is a given case of deep mental conflict the more certainly will it be found on adequate analysis to center about a sexual problem. On the surface, of course, this does not appear so, for, by means of various psychological defensive mechanisms, the depression, doubt, despair, and other manifestations of the conflict are transferred on to more tolerable and permissible topics, such as anxiety about worldly success or failure, about immortality and the salvation of the soul, philosophical considerations about the value of life, the future of the world, and so on.

Now comes the father’s death and the mother’s second marriage.

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