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Hamlet: Psychological Criticism

Alice in Wonderland vs. Hamlet (Bartoli and Hessel)

Jessica Hessel

on 13 March 2013

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Transcript of Hamlet: Psychological Criticism

Alice in Wonderland
Hamlet Holly Bartoli and Jessica Hessel Alice in Wonderland Hamlet Psychological Analysis Assessment References Psychoanalytical Analysis Lewis Carroll "Mad" Quotes Sigmund Freud Oedipus Complex Id, Ego and Superego Psychoanalytical Analysis Psychoanalytic criticism builds on Freudian theories of psychology.

People's behavior is affected by their unconscious: "...the notion that human beings are motivated, even driven, by desires, fears, needs, and conflicts of which they are unaware..."

Keeping conflict buried in our unconscious, Freud argued that we develop defenses: selective perception, selective memory, denial, displacement, projection, regression, fear of intimacy, and fear of death, among others. Freud maintained that our desires and our unconscious conflicts give rise to three areas of the mind that wrestle for dominance as we grow from infancy, to childhood, to adulthood:

ID: "...the location of the drives" or libido

EGO: "...one of the major defenses against the power of the drives..." and home of the defenses listed above

SUPEREGO: the area of the unconscious that houses judgement (of self and others) and "...which begins to form during childhood as a result of the Oedipus complex" Essentially, the Oedipus complex involves children's need for their parents and the conflict that arises as children mature and realize they are not the absolute focus of their mother's attention: "the Oedipus complex begins in a late phase of infantile sexuality, between the child's third and sixth year, and it takes a different form in males than it does in females" Born on January 27, 1832 in Daresbury, Cheshire, England, Charles Dodgson wrote and created games as a child.
At age 20 he received a studentship at Christ Church and was appointed a lecturer in mathematics.
Dodgson was shy but enjoyed creating stories for children.
His books including "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" were published under the pen name Lewis Carroll.
Dodgson died in 1898. "But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here." (Ch. 6) Of all Victorian children’s stories that are enjoyed equally by children and adults, none is more popular than Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1872).

More than any other piece of literature written for children during the Victorian period, Alice in Wonderland (as the tales together are generally called) has spawned a seemingly never-ending academic industry; and, although Carroll also wrote other children’s books, the interest in the Alice books far outweighs the interest in the other books.

Alice in Wonderland has been analyzed from virtually all critical points of view. The Freudian approach has been applied many times, starting at least as early as 1933 with a piece by A. M. E. Goldschmidt. Carroll himself receives the Freudian treatment in Phyllis Greenacre’s Swift and Carroll: A Psychoanalytic Study of Two Lives (1955).

The Jungian approach, too, has been tried on Alice in an article called “Alice as Anima : The Image of Woman in Carroll’s Classic,” published in Aspects of Alice . Hamlet's head is a "distracted globe"
Crime is a form of insanity, since to destroy goodness and distract the world from its moral courses calls for an inversion of true reason
To invert moral values is ultimately insane
Play exhibits the conflict between Hamlet's inner world, his acute sense of a moral universe governing human conduct, and the outside world of Claudius's government.
Do the ends justify the means? Bloom, H. (1986). Modern Critical Interpretations: William Shakespeare's Hamlet (pp. 1-10). New York City, NY: Chelsea House Publishers.

French, Y. (2003). Harold Bloom Interprets "Hamlet". In Library of Congress. Retrieved March 7, 2013, from http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/0305/hamlet.html

Johnson, V. E. (Ed.). (2010). Corruption in William Shakespeare's Hamlet (pp. 43-107). Detroit, MI: Cengage Learning.

Purdue OWL. (2013). Psychoanalytic Criticism (1930s-present). In Schools of Criticism. Retrieved March 7, 2013, from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/owlprint/722/

Snider, C. (2009). Everything is Queer To-day': Lewis Carroll's Alice Through the Jungian Looking-Glass. In California State University. Retrieved March 7, 2013, from http://www.csulb.edu/~csnider/Lewis.Carroll.html "We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad" 1930s-present Flickriver, . (other). (2010). Oedipus Complex. Retrieved March 7, 2013, from https://www.google.com/search?q=oedipus+complex&hl=en&rlz=1C1CHFX_en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=BOs4UaOxFqPm2gXclYH4Bg&ved=0CAoQ_AUoAQ&biw=1600&bih=756#imgrc=AiyL1nRjMqnOMM%3A%3BqfsceVeFQB2jGM%3Bhtt Critics believe that we can "...read psychoanalytically...to see which concepts are operating in the text in such a way as to enrich our understanding of the work and, if we plan to write a paper about it, to yield a meaningful, coherent psychoanalytic interpretation" Freud and Literature Carl Jung Jungian criticism attempts to explore the connection between literature and what Carl Jung (a student of Freud) called the “collective unconscious” of the human race: "...racial memory, through which the spirit of the whole human species manifests itself".

Jungian criticism, closely related to Freudian theory because of its connection to psychoanalysis, assumes that all stories and symbols are based on mythic models from mankind’s past.

"Jungian criticism is generally involved with a search for the embodiment of [archetypical] symbols within particular works of art". Questions Typically Asked Freudian Questions: Jung Questions: How do the operations of repression structure or inform the work?
Are there any oedipal dynamics - or any other family dynamics - are work here?
How can characters' behavior, narrative events, and/or images be explained in terms of psychoanalytic concepts of any kind (for example...fear or fascination with death, sexuality - which includes love and romance as well as sexual behavior - as a primary indicator of psychological identity or the operations of ego-id-superego)?
What does the work suggest about the psychological being of its author?
What might a given interpretation of a literary work suggest about the psychological motives of the reader?
Are there prominent words in the piece that could have different or hidden meanings? Could there be a subconscious reason for the author using these "problem words"? What connections can we make between elements of the text and the archetypes? (Mask, Shadow, Anima, Animus)
How do the characters in the text mirror the archetypal figures? (Great Mother or nurturing Mother, Whore, destroying Crone, Lover, Destroying Angel)
How does the text mirror the archetypal narrative patterns? (Quest, Night-Sea-Journey)
How symbolic is the imagery in the work?
How does the protagonist reflect the hero of myth?
Does the “hero” embark on a journey in either a physical or spiritual sense?
Is there a journey to an underworld or land of the dead?
What trials or ordeals does the protagonist face? What is the reward for overcoming them? Lenny's Alice in Wonderland. (2013). Alice in Wonderland pictures. In Lenny's Alice in Wonderland. Retrieved March 7, 2013, from http://www.alice-in-wonderland.net/alice2a.html The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he said was, "Why is a raven like a writing-desk?"
"Come, we shall have some fun now!" thought Alice. "I'm glad they've begun asking riddles. — I believe I can guess that," she added aloud.
"Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?" said the March Hare.
"Exactly so," said Alice.
"Then you should say what you mean," the March Hare went on.
"I do," Alice hastily replied; "at least--at least I mean what I say--that's the same thing, you know."
"Not the same thing a bit!" said the Hatter. "You might just as well say that 'I see what I eat' is the same thing as 'I eat what I see'!"
"You might just as well say," added the March Hare, "that 'I like what I get' is the same thing as 'I get what I like'!"
"You might just as well say," added the Dormouse, who seemed to be talking in his sleep, "that 'I breathe when I sleep' is the same thing as 'I sleep when I breathe'!" (Ch. 7) "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - - that's all." (Ch. 6) Ophelia Ophelia in her madness draws parallels too, with songs and flowers, when she muddles her dead father with a dead lover and sees her lover as forsaking her and as a wandering pilgrim
"To the Elizabethans, the head was regarded as the heavenly part of man, offering him the divine gifts of speech and reason.
Claudius's crimes do not just distract Hamlet's head from its normal functioning; they also turn all apparent values upside down.
The play becomes a conflict between Hamlet's moral universe and Claudius's world of appearance, corruption, and villainy." Andrew Gurr (Professor of English at the University of Reading in England) says...
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