Hamlet and the Oedipus Complex Essay

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Hamlet and the Oedipus Complex

Hamlet is the typical kind of son almost every father and mother would want: intelligent, loving, caring, strong and loyal. Yet, some scholars believe that he is just another emotional character, defying our eyes to think that his acts are innocent, when his real purpose is to take his mother for himself. This gives scholars, like Ernest Jones, the impression that Hamlet’s actions were encouraged by an Oedipus complex, characterized by feelings of intense rivalry with a father figure in regards to a mother’s spousal affection. Even though there are lines that can be interpreted to show that Hamlet may have had such a desire for his mother, when these lines are examined in the full context of the
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Hamlet is directed by the ghost of his father in the woods to “[r]evenge his foul and most unnatural murder” (1.5.25). Hamlet answers, “Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift… May sweep to my revenge” (1.5.29-31). By stating this, Hamlet shows his loyalty to his father and that he would do anything for him.

Though Hamlet is observed as an emotional character, there is no evidence that he suffered from an Oedipus complex. He loves his mother, Gertrude, but he is certainly not falling in love with her, neither is he sexually attracted to her in any way. Hamlet admires her because

he respected his mother for giving the father he loved so dearly all the love he needed to run a kingdom, a family, and more. When the late King Hamlet was killed and the Queen forgot about her late husband and treated the new king with the same respect as the old one, many of the tables turned for Hamlet and he saw his mother through different eyes. (Newman)

Through Hamlet’s soliloquies, he insults his mother more than he praises her. As it is found in his first soliloquy, “Frailty, thy name is woman!” (1.2.146). He calls her weak because he believes that she has married too soon, showing that she may have also been attracted to Claudius before his father’s death. Hamlet is also ashamed of his mother, not only for marrying too soon, but for not being loyal to one man and husband
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