Hamlet and Oedipus: a Psychoanalytic Study to Find Hamlet’s Mystery

Topics: Sigmund Freud, Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet Pages: 10 (3753 words) Published: June 10, 2013
Hamlet and Oedipus: A Psychoanalytic Study to Find Hamlet’s Mystery

By Golnaz Zarbakhsh

I. Introduction
1. General Background
Hamlet, a tragedy by William Shakespeare, was first performed in 1601. It was perhaps written in mid-1599, and completed by 1601. The story of this play however was not unfamiliar to the people living in the Elizabethan Age; as it is said that a tragedy under the title of Hamlet had been existed before Shakespeare’s tragedy which was written, perhaps, by Thomas Kyd. It may be possible that Shakespeare rewrote and improved the previous play, but if it is to be true the first tragedy of Hamlet was not that much interesting or outstanding to be published or be remained in the history of English literature. 2. General Overview

The story of Shakespeare’s play is as follows:
It is only a month after the death of Old Hamlet, king of Denmark, that his widow Gertrude marries his brother Claudius. This event has oppressed Hamlet, the young prince, who is mournful for his father’s death. The young Hamlet mused on his mother’s unfaithfulness, hates his black-hearted uncle. His uncle has assumed the throne and drew his mother to adultery, because in Christianity it is unlawful to marry ones brother-in-law. His mother’s marriage has disappointed him so much that he wishes to die. When his father’s ghost reveals the truth of his death to Hamlet and tells him that he was not killed by snakebite but by Claudius pouring poison into his ear, Hamlet’s grieving soul becomes so angry. The ghost commands Hamlet to avenge but without injuring Gertrude. Hamlet is thinking of revenge, but he is afraid that he may saw a devilish ghost who wants to seduce him. He feigns madness. Polonius, the counselor, who wants to please the king, thinks that Hamlet has gone mad. He forces his daughter Ophelia to speak to Hamlet to figure out his real state of mind while he and the king are listening to them. Hamlet, once loved Ophelia with all his heart, now mistrusts her. He denies his love for Ophelia and warrens her to go to a nunnery. By hearing what Hamlet said, Claudius decides to send him to England. Two of Hamlet’s old friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, were also summoned to Denmark to help finding out Hamlet’s cause of madness. Hamlet welcomes a group of travelling players and manages a play to be performed in front of the courtiers and the king. The play has a story just like the one the ghost had previously told him. In this way he could learn if his uncle is guilty by assessing his reaction to the play. In the middle of the play Claudius leaves in a fearful fury and Hamlet makes sure that he is guilty. The queen summons Hamlet to her room in order to talk to him while Polonius is hidden behind a curtain. In his way to his mother’s room, Hamlet finds Claudius praying and refrains from killing him, because when someone is being killed while praying, his gilts are being forgiven. In his mother’s room, Hamlet blames Gertrude. The queen, who has become horrified, yells for help. Polonius also yells, but Hamlet that thought the king is behind the curtain kills Polonius. Now king ensures that Hamlet is completely mad and decides to kill him by sending him to England. The death of the father draws Ophelia to insanity. Laertes, Ophelia’s brother comes home from France to avenge his father’s death. At arriving in Denmark, his anger doubles by seeing his mad sister. Claudius introduces Hamlet as the source of all these sufferings. In his way to England, Hamlet becomes aware of the king’s intent and rewrites the letter which commands his death and replaces his name with Rosencrantz’s and Guildenstern’s. By the help of pirates he comes back to Denmark. Ophelia is found drowned and it is at her funeral that Hamlet arrives. He and Laertes meet in the graveyard and fight in Ophelia’s grave. Claudius arranges a fencing match between Hamlet and Laertes. On one hand he poisons a cup of wine from which Hamlet will surely drink and...

Cited: 1. Bressler, Charles E. Literary Criticism, An Introduction to Theory and Practice
2. Guerin, Wilfred L. A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature
3. Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today, A User-Friendly Guide
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5. Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams
6. Jones, Ernest. “The American Journal of Psychology”, Vol.21, No.1, (Jan.1910), The Oedipus Complex as an Explanation of Hamlet’s Mystery: A Study in Motive
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