Courtney Lehmann and Lisa S. Starks in “Making Mother Matter: Repression, Revision, and the Stakes of ‘Reading Psychoanalysis Into’ Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet” make a statement regarding the effect of Ophelia’s words, even though she was considered mad at the time:
Hamlet’s own disgust toward the body and sexual behaviour, coupled with Ophelia’s erotically-charged songs, did not suddenly become “about” sexuality after Freud. On the contrary, censorship of the play in performance during various historical time periods indicates that the tragedy has always been perceived of as highly erotic, and often dangerously so. Even in the context of twentieth-century interpretations of Hamlet, critics have been reluctant to engage in genuine confrontations with the problem of the play’s sexuality and its underlying anxiety. For this reason, Jacqueline Rose has claimed that critics writing on Hamlet, beginning with T. S. Eliot, have conflated their puzzlement over the play with the Western notion of “woman” as the bearer of an impenetrable secret. (2)
Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet, presents almost a dozen male characters for every one female character. The only prominent female characters are two: Ophelia, Laertes’ sister and Polonius’ daughter; and Gertrude, the queen and wife of Claudius and mother of Hamlet. This essay will explore the character, role, and importance of Ophelia.
The protagonist of the tragedy, Prince Hamlet, initially appears in the play dressed in solemn black, mourning the death of his father supposedly by snakebite while he was away at Wittenberg as a student. Hamlet laments the hasty remarriage of his mother to his father’s brother, an incestuous act; thus in his first soliloqu…
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…akes of ‘Reading Psychoanalysis Into’ Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet.” Early Modern Literary Studies 6.1 (May, 2000): 2.1-24 http://purl.oclc.org/emls/06-1/lehmhaml.htm
Pennington, Michael. “Ophelia: Madness Her Only Safe Haven.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. From Hamlet: A User’s Guide. New York: Limelight Editions, 1996.
Pitt, Angela. “Women in Shakespeare’s Tragedies.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Rpt. from Shakespeare’s Women. N.p.: n.p., 1981.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html
Wilkie, Brian and James Hurt. “Shakespeare.” Literature of the Western World. Ed. Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1992.
Custom Shakespeare’s Hamlet Essay: Hamlet and Gertrude
Hamlet and the Character of Gertrude
Shakespeare’s sinful woman in the tragedy Hamlet is named Gertrude. Wife of Claudius and mother of the prince, she is not selected by the ghost for vengeance by the protagonist. Let’s consider her story in this essay.
There is no doubt that Gertrude is a sinner in this play. In her book, Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroes, Lily B. Campbell describes the extent of Gertrude’s sin and of her punishment:
And of the Queen’s punishment as it goes on throughout the play, there can be no doubt either. Her love for Hamlet, her grief, the woes that come so fast that one treads upon the heel of another, her consciousness of wrong-doing, her final dismay are those also of one whose soul has become alienated from God by sin.(146)
Courtney Lehmann and Lisa S. Starks in “Making Mother Matter: Repression, Revision, and the Stakes of ‘Reading Psychoanalysis Into’ Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet,” comment on the contamination of the queen in Shakespeare’s Hamlet:
Hamlet, a play that centres on the crisis of the masculine subject and its “radical confrontation with the sexualized maternal body,” foregrounds male anxiety about mothers, female sexuality, and hence, sexuality itself. Obsessed with the corruption of the flesh, Hamlet is pathologically fixated on questions of his own origin and destination — questions which are activated by his irrepressible attraction to and disgust with the “contaminated” body of his mother. (1)
At the outset of the drama, Hamlet’s mother is apparently disturbed by her son’s appearance in solemn black at the gathering of the court, and she requests of him:
Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,
And let thi…
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Campbell, Lily B. Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroes. New York: Barnes and Noble, Inc, 1970.
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Lectures and Notes on Shakspere and Other English Poets. London : George Bell and Sons, 1904. p. 342-368. http://ds.dial.pipex.com/thomas_larque/ham1-col.htm
Jorgensen, Paul A. “Hamlet.” William Shakespeare: the Tragedies. Boston: Twayne Publ., 1985. N. pag. http://www.freehomepages.com/hamlet/other/jorg-hamlet.html
Lehmann, Courtney and Lisa S. Starks. “Making Mother Matter: Repression, Revision, and the Stakes of ‘Reading Psychoanalysis Into’ Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet.” Early Modern Literary Studies 6.1 (May, 2000): 2.1-24 .
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html No line nos.