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Psychoanalysis and Sigmund Freud on Hamlet
Transcript of Psychoanalysis and Sigmund Freud on Hamlet
Sigmund Freud a.k.a. "Father of Psychoanalysis"
- a method of mind investigation, especially of the unconscious mind
- could be also called as method of modern psychotherapy that can be very useful for people who are struggling with longstanding difficulties
- needed as a deeper treatment for psychological troubles that have been around in one's life for a long time
- Prince of Denmark whose father, King Hamlet, is killed by his uncle Claudius
- Claudius marries his mother, Queen Gertrude
- Ghost (late King Hamlet) appears and tells him to take vengeance for his death
- plans to kill King Claudius if he is proven guilty
- procrastinates in killing Claudius
- result of a struggle between ego and superego
- Guilt is one of the main reasons why Hamlet cannot kill Claudius. Freud stated in his work
"explains the emotions and ideas that the mind keeps in the unconscious, via dynamic repression, that concentrates upon a child's desire to have sexual relations with the parent of the opposite sex" (Freud 319).
Psychoanalysis and Sigmund Freud on
What is Psychoanalysis?
- an Austrian neurologist who considers himself first and foremost a scientist rather than a doctor
- used hypnosis to treat neurotic patients
- coined the phrase "psychoanalysis" to describe talking about repressed occurences
His most controversial theory is the Oedipus complex. The term derives from the hero of Greek mythology, Oedipus, who unknowingly kills his father then marries his mother.
Id, Ego, Superego
- id, the "unconscious"
- ego, the "conscious"
- superego, the "morality"
What do these
theories all have
to do with Hamlet?
Freudian Guilt Theory
"The loathing which should have driven him to revenge is thus replaced by self-reproach, by conscientious scruples, which tell him that he himself is no better than the murderer whom he is required to punish" (Freud 86).
He feels guilty of his father's ghost when he learned about the truth of his death because he is confronted with the image of his own repressed desire to kill his own father so he could take his father's place with his mother.
Interpretation of Dreams,
- a psychoanalytic theory which encompasses the idea of unconsciously desiring the parent of the opposite sex, while desiring to eliminate the parent of the same sex.
Hamlet's unusual obsession with Gertrude's sex life
- his original plan is to kill King Claudius, but gets diverted by his attempts to steer his mother back on the right track
- he is very bothered by Gertrude's "incestuous" relationship with Claudius
- Hamlet tries to make his mother see the mistake she has made in marrying her husband's brother
Hamlet sees Claudius kneeling down, draws his sword, but hesitates and delays the killing instead
"And so he goes to heaven,
And so am I (revenged.) That would be scanned:
A villain kills my father, and for that,
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
Why, this is (hire) and (salary), not revenge"
"Nay, but to live
In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty!" (III.iv.103-106).
In the closet scene, he talks to his mother about her sexuality, and scolds her about how dirty she is for making love with King Claudius.
Hamlet begs Gertrude, not to sleep with Claudius or let him touch her
"Not this, by no means, that I bid you do:
Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed,
Pinch wanton on your cheek, call you his mouse,
And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses
Or paddling in your neck with his damned fingers,"
The incestuous marriage of Gertrude and Claudius mirrors Hamlet's imaginary idea of having a sexual relationship with his mother. The unconscious desires are struggling to find conscious expression.
Knowing the truth about his father's murderer, Hamlet's subconscious realizes that killing his uncle will be like killing himself.
Claudius serves as a flesh-and-blood expression of his own repressed childhood fantasies, and to kill him would be to murder a part of his own inner self that is already associated with self-loathing.
Hamlet needed assurance for his mother's safety because he thought about killing his mother Gertrude
The presence of Gertrude evokes a sense of guilt and discomfort which is a result of his Oedipal desire.
"O heart, lose not thy nature, let not ever
The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom,
Let me be cruel not unnatural.
I will speak daggers to her, but use none”
Even his own allusion to Nero is based on a parallel situation, just different events.
Freud "had read William Shakespeare in English throughout his life, and it has been suggested that his understanding of human psychology may have been partially derived from Shakespeare's plays" (Bloom 346).
What could have prompted Freud to study Hamlet's psychological complexities and introduce theories such as the Freudian Guilt Theory and Oedipus Complex?
Bloom, Harold. The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1994. Print.
Freud, Sigmund, Nandor Fodor, and Frank Gaynor. Freud: Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. New York: Greenwood, 1969. Print.
Freud, Sigmund, James Strachey, and Anna Freud. The Interpretation of Dreams. 1900. London: Hogarth, 1953. Print.
"Literary Articles." A Psychoanalytic Reading of Hamlet. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.
Lupton, Julia Reinhard, and Kenneth Reinhard. After Oedipus: Shakespeare in Psychoanalysis. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1993. Print.
Shakespeare, William, Barbara A. Mowat, and Paul Werstine. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. New York: Washington Square, 2002. Print.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "Hamlet in Hamlet." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.
"Suffocating Mothers: Fantasies of Maternal Origin in Shakespeare's Plays, Hamlet to The Tempest." Choice Reviews Online 29.11 (1992). Print.