Hamlet and the Oedipus Complex Essay

1229 Words 5 Pages
Hamlet and the Oedipus Complex

William Shakespeare's play Hamlet contains very similar elements to Sophocles' Greek Myth, Oedipus Rex. In the late 1800s through early 1900s, a Doctor based out of Vienna, named Sigmund Freud, developed a theory based on the events of the play Oedipus Rex, which has since been coined the "Oedipus Complex." Ernest Jones also applied his knowledge of Freudian psychology and wrote a persuasive paper suggesting that Hamlet cannot kill his uncle Claudius because of his repressed feelings for his mother. In the story of Oedipus Rex, Oedipus fulfills a prophecy given to him, by killing his father Laius and by sleeping with his mother Jocasta. When Oedipus realizes he has fulfilled the prophecy he
…show more content…
These desires are normally kept repressed within our subconscious. However, if our id gains control of our super-ego, then we act or behave accordingly. Both tragic characters suffered from Freud's classical interpretation of a child's love for their mother.

Throughout the play Hamlet, there are several hints that the young prince suffers from the Oedipus complex. Claudius is quoted, "The queen his mother lives almost by his looks," (Hamlet IV.vii.11-12) revealing a sense of closeness between Hamlet and his mother. This also reveals the need for Hamlet in his mother's life. Although Hamlet does love his mother, he is able to fall in love with Ophelia. Quite possibly, Hamlet saw qualities in Ophelia that resembled those of his mother, which would explain the early attraction between the two. Other more striking evidence is visible when the ghost or old Hamlet commands young Hamlet to, "Let thy soul contrive against thy mother." (Hamlet I.v.85-86) In this scene the ghost is trying to make sure that Hamlet keeps his impulses controlled, and will carefully plan a course of action upon his mother. However, the "Closet Scene" or Act 3 Scene 4 is key to understanding Hamlet's true feelings. In this scene the ghost reappears in order to prevent Hamlet from enacting his childhood fantasies with his mother Gertrude. Young Hamlet finally decides to confront his mother, and is extremely upset by the situation. However, instead of talking about his
Open Document