Oedipus Complex in Shakespeare's Hamlet Is One Research Paper

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Oedipus Complex in Shakespeare's Hamlet

Hamlet is one of the greatest tragedies of all times, having been put into film and play on numerous occasions throughout the past centuries. Aside from its current popularity, the play is also intriguing since it enjoyed immense success immediately after being written, a rare situation for other plays.

Hamlet, by the full name of the tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is still a mystery today and depicts scenes of love, passion, hatred and pure madness. In the play, the real and the metaphysical realms coexist as the people -- some of the characters -- see ghosts -- the ghost of the deceased King Hamlet. The ghost speaks to Prince Hamlet, the son of the deceased king and informs him that he -- the king -- had been poisoned by Claudius, his own brother, who had, meanwhile become the new king and wedded Gertrude, the queen and Prince Hamlet's mother.

The ghost asks the prince to avenge this murder and the prince promises to do so. In time however, he will come to question the genuineness of those said by the ghost, as well as the true intentions and origin of the ghost. These questions still torment the contemporaneous reader.

Prince Hamlet interpreted the guilt of the new king with the aid of a play portraying the murder of a king and set out to kill him. By mistake however, he killed Polonius, the lord chamberlain at the castle, indirectly causing the suicide of Ophelia. In an effort to avenge the untimely deaths of his father and sister, Laertes challenges Hamlet to a fencing match and poisons his sword. Claudius also sets out to serve Hamlet poisoned wine, in the event of Laertes' failure.

In the fencing match, both Hamlet and Laertes become injured by the poisoned sword and the prince becomes aware of the complot. Queen Gertrude accidentally drinks the poisoned wine and Hamlet injures his uncle and forces him to drink the poisoned wine. The final scene reveals the four dead bodies, survived only by Horatio -- Hamlet's friend --, who will tell the story of the tragedy.

The story of Hamlet has been endlessly analyzed throughout the centuries and emphasis has been placed on numerous elements, such as its popularity, the construct of the characters, the madness in the play, the incest, the revenge and the immorality of the behavior. Each specific leitmotif is intriguing in its own manner, but the current debate falls on the presence of the oedipal complex in the play.

The oedipal complex is one of the most discussed complexes by both academia, as well as population, literature and other inspired arts. The underlying idea of the complex is that boys secretly desire to sexually possess their mothers and kill their fathers. Due to this idea, the concept is also one of the most blamed theories in psychoanalysis.

"The Oedipus complex is probably Freud's best-known concept. It is also the most maligned concept in psychoanalysis. The idea that all boys secretly desire their mothers (and girls their father, that the bound between children and parents is to no small extent sexual in nature is abhorrent to most people)" (De Berg, 2003).

In Shakespeare's Hamlet, the Oedipus complex is revealed in terms of Hamlet's relationship with his mother, Gertrude, and this complex is present in several instances. For once, according to Freud, sons will often perceive their fathers as inferior beings and imagine their mothers being married to other people, capable of greater things (Dolloff, 2006). In the Tragedy of Hamlet, the Danish Prince substitutes his father with the ghost. Other people can see the ghost, yet his mother cannot. Additionally, the prince is the only one who can speak to the ghost (Dolloff, 2006). This ensured that the only one who controlled the situation was Hamlet, or the oedipal son.

In a second setting relevant for the application of the oedipal complex, Hamlet is reluctant to believing the ghost who brings the news about his father's poisoning by Claudius. He as such hesitates in believing the ghost and avenging his father. Since, according to the oedipal complex, the boy would have wished for the death of his father, he procrastinates his revenge.

This oedipal complex intertwines with the metaphysical real, when the death of King Hamlet generates the commencement of an internal crisis in the prince's life. The young Hamlet is met with…

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