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(William Shakespeare)

Did Hamlet suffer from Oedipus complex? Did his troubled mind conjure up his father?s Ghost which advises him not to hurt Gertrude, his mother?

Critics attempting a psychoanalytic reading of Shakespeare?s Hamlet do believe that Hamlet did possess incestuous feelings towards his mother. More than his father?s death, he is hurt by his mother?s overhasty marriage with Claudius, his uncle.

According to Sigmund Freud (1856-1939 ), an Austrian psychologist, ?Oedipus complex is the repressed but continuing presence in the adult?s unconscious of the male infant?s desire to possess his mother and to have his rival, the father, out of the way?. It is well known that Freud derived the term from Sophocles? play ?Oedipus the King?, whose protagonist has unknowingly killed his father and married his mother.

Hamlet vows to take revenge by killing his uncle. Though he plots for the murder several times, he steps back from actually carrying out the deed. A .C. Bradley has said ?In sparing the King, he sacrifices the life of seven others (including himself). The Oedipus complex in him does not allow Hamlet to take revenge on his uncle because his uncle has done what he himself desires to do. This is the central dilemma of the play.

Bradley states that Hamlet was highly intellectual by nature and reflective by habit, and hence the tag of ?Tragedy of thought? has been given to the play Hamlet.

In the end, Death is the victor. Eight people die in the course of the play, and two entire families are wiped out. Yet this bloodbath does not solve anything or answer the questions that plague Hamlet and perhaps plague the audience.

Freud?s analysis of Hamlet suffering from Oedipus complex is further supported by the historical document that Shakespeare?s own son who died in infancy had the name of ?Hamnet?, which is the reminiscent of ?Hamlet?

Abstract by: J.Prabha.

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