Psychoanalytic Essay On Hamlet

Psychoanalytic Essay On Hamlet-49
Some critics have brought gender into the discussion: most “Hamlet” criticism has been written by men, and perhaps they’ve yearned for a manly, decisive killer-hero.

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They incline toward the Freudian reading of “Hamlet,” which holds that Hamlet delays because he feels guilty.

Hamlet’s problem, they argue, isn’t really that he’s hesitant about violence.

Around 1905 or 1906, Sigmund Freud wrote an essay, unpublished in his lifetime, called “Psychopathic Characters on the Stage.” The essay addressed the question of what we, as spectators, get out of watching people go crazy.

Freud’s theory was that we’re fascinated by crazy characters because they help us express our own repressed impulses.

(Ophelia to Hamlet: “You are naught, you are naught.” Hamlet to himself: “How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable / Seem to me all the uses of this world! Love or, more accurately, the failure to love is also a theme. (“For us,” they write, “at its deepest, this is a play about shame.”)Accounting for the action of the play, to most people, means accounting for Hamlet’s famous “delay” in killing Claudius.

(This delay was Shakespeare’s big innovation when he wrote his own version of the already extant Hamlet story: in earlier versions, Hamlet either flew swiftly to his revenge or spent a long time meticulously planning it.) Broadly speaking, there have been two explanations for the delay.

,” she rebukes him this way: O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!

The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s, eye, tongue, sword, Th’expentency and rose of the fair state, The glass of fashion and the mould of form, Th’observ’d of all observers, quite, quite down!

Hamlet, in other words, is a well-rounded person; to kill Claudius, he has to narrow himself into a kind of action hero. Taken to its logical conclusion, this reading of “Hamlet” suggests that the word “delay” actually does him a disservice.

What sane person, finding himself in Hamlet’s position, wouldn’t delay?


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