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The Oedipal Relationship Between Hamlet And Gertrude

1160 words - 5 pages

Throughout William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Shakespeare portrays Hamlet with the same types of behaviors and frustrations in humans that Sigmund Freud saw at a much later date. When the relationship between Hamlet and his mother is analyzed Freud's oedipal complex theory comes to mind. The oedipal complex is a theory created by Freud that states that "The child takes both of its parents, and more particularly one of them, as the object of its erotic wishes."(51) Because of this desire to be with the parent of the opposite sex, a rivalry is formed with the parent of the same sex. In the play, Hamlet shows great hostility toward his uncle Claudius because his mother's remarriage to him. Hamlet sees his mother's remarriage as disgusting and sees murdering Claudius as a way of freeing his mother of an incestuous marriage as well as avenging his father. Hamlet and his mother's relationship is also shown as more sexual than the traditional mother son relationship because of Hamlet's language and private interaction with his mother, as well as his rivalry toward Claudius for his mother's attentions. This suggests that Shakespeare saw the behavioral characteristics of the oedipal complex in humanity that Freud did and chose to display them through the relationship of Hamlet and his mother.

Hamlet's inner monologues reveal much about what he is feeling and also aid in understanding the nature of the oedipal complex within the character. Aspects of the oedipal complex can be seen and applied to Hamlet's first soliloquy. Here Hamlet speaks to himself, divulging his personal expression of torment. The main cause of Hamlet's torment is the remarriage of his mother to his uncle and not the death of his father. This is shown when Hamlet says "With such dexterity to incestuous sheets! It is not, nor it cannot come to good. / But break my heart, for I must hold my tongue." (1.2 . 157-9) He is disgusted by his mother's affection toward Claudius because he believes it is incestuous. It can also be inferred the Hamlet is more concerned with the marriage of his mother than the death of his father because Hamlet does not mention or express any concern over how his father died until he sees the ghost. This fits in with the oedipal complex because it can be said that unconsciously Hamlet believes that because his father is dead all his competition is gone and his mother should be his. Claudius marring his mother does not fit in with what Hamlet wants and takes his object of desire away from him.

Within Act three scene four the full extent of Hamlet's feelings for his mother are expressed which make the oedipal complex behaviors in the relationship apparent due to the fact Hamlet makes numerous sexually allusions. In this scene Hamlet confronts his mother about her relationship with Claudius and her involvement in the murder of King Hamlet. Here Hamlet is actually more concerned with his mother's sexual relationship than anything else including...

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