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And evaluate one or two works of twentieth-century literary criticism that take a psychoanalytic approach to Shakespea - Research Paper Example

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Hamlet William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is well-recognized as one of the masterpieces of English language literature. The play’s deep-rooted investigations of murder, insanity, and questions of meaning and existence, making it one of the greatest plays ever written…
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Research and evaluate one or two works of twentieth-century literary criticism that take a psychoanalytic approach to Shakespea
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"And evaluate one or two works of twentieth-century literary criticism that take a psychoanalytic approach to Shakespea"

Download file to see previous pages Perhaps some of the most intriguing insights have come as a result of the psychoanalytical school of critical investigation. Sigmund Freud himself analyzed the play advancing a number of theoretical notions on Hamlet’s subconscious and Oedipal relation to his mother. This essay considers ‘The Oedipus-Complex as An Explanation of Hamlet's Mystery:?A Study in Motive’ a famous psychoanalytic interpretation of Hamlet advanced by theorist Ernest Jones and work by Sigmund Freud in analyzing Hamlet. One of Sigmund Freud’s primary theories and a central element of psychoanalysis is the understanding that man is affected by a repressive urge towards love for their mother. Referred to as the Oedipal Complex, Freud indicates that men are then motivated by an urge to murder their father and marry their mother, except this is generally repressed. Hamlet makes a brilliant representation of this theory in action, as Hamlet’s complex relation between his mother and her new-husband, also his step-father, Claudius constitutes a significant element of the play’s narrative structure. This interpretation is not lost on Jones, who argues that in large part Hamlet’s intensity of conflict with Claudius is rooted in these psychological urges. Jones writes, “Hamlet's second guilty wish had thus also been realized by his uncle, namely to procure the fulfilment of the first -- the possession of the mother -- by a personal deed, in fact by murder of the father” (Jones). In these regards, Claudius has actually usurped and realized Hamlet’s repressed childhood desire, namely the wish to murder his father and marry his mother. It’s believed that the conflict associated with their relationship is then a direct result of this unconscious psychological urges. While Jones argues that a great degree of Hamlet’s actions are motivated by these unconscious Oedipal desires, there remains a number of questions related to this psychoanalytic examination. One of the predominant questions one wonders is that if Hamlet is so consumed by his desire to marry Gertrude, and Claudius has usurped his ability to accomplish this repressed desire, than why does Hamlet not simply murder Claudius. It’s clear that Hamlet is willing to go to these extremes, yet throughout the play he refrains from this action. In these regards, Jones argues that Freud believes Hamlet’s unwillingness to murder Claudius is related to an unconscious unwillingness. For Jones, if Hamlet were to kill Claudius it would be killing off this unconscious childhood fantasy, and in doing so, it would be in a sense removing an aspect of himself and internal constitution. Freud himself considered this issue and wrote, Hamlet is able to do anything -- except take vengeance on the man who did away with his father and took that father's place with his mother, the man who shows him the repressed wishes of his own childhood realized. Thus the loathing which should drive him on to revenge is replaced in him by self-reproaches, by scruples of conscience, which remind him that he himself is literally no better than the sinner whom he is to punish. Here I have translated into conscious terms what was bound to remain unconscious in Hamlet's mind.... In addition to demonstrating an overriding interpretation for Hamlet’s unwillingness to murder Claudius, this passage from Freud also contributes to interpreting Hamlet’s overall motivations throughout the pla ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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