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Can you post some scholars who don't believe that the relationship between Hamlet and...

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pure | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted May 1, 2010 at 4:05 AM via web

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Can you post some scholars who don't believe that the relationship between Hamlet and Gertrude reflected an Oedipus Complex?

I have to write a refutation of the Oedipus Complex.

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jforster | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted May 1, 2010 at 5:02 AM (Answer #1)

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Before you begin your refutation I would first define what the Oedipus complex is.

The term was coined in an 1899 book of Freud called The Interpretation of Dreams. According to my sources, the Oedipus complex is when a child wishes to have a sexual relationship with a parent and also wishes to do harm to a parent's spouse because of jealousy.

Next, I would read the story of Oedipus after which this complex was named. Enotes has a good short version. You can look at the link I provided. In the actual story of Oedipus, he did not want a sexual relationship with his mother and he never wished to murder his father, but the fates intervened and despite his best efforts, Oedipus did just was was prophesied.

Now, to deal with your question. In Act I, Scene II of Hamlet, Hamlet discusses how much he hates his uncle marrying his mother. Many people attribute this to his Oedipus complex. On the other hand, Hamlet's anger could be justified. His father has just recently died (less than two months ago). He says, "But two months dead—nay, not so much, not two."

Hamlet also loved his father, the former king. He says, "So excellent a king, that was to this / Hyperion to a satyr." He is saying that his father (like the Hyperion, a Titan god) was far superior a ruler to his uncle (like the satyr, a companion of Pan that tended toward mischief).

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 1, 2010 at 5:19 AM (Answer #2)

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Wiggins, Martin. "Hamlet Within the Prince." New Essays on Hamlet. Ed. Mark Thornton Burnett and John Manning. Hamlet Collection 1. New York: AMS, 1994. 209-26.

After identifying the weaknesses in readings of Hamlet by psychoanalysts (e.g., Freud, Jones) and distinguishing dramatic characters from actual human beings, this article charges that "if there are mysterious depths to be sounded in Hamlet, the text itself must refer us to them"-not a knowledge of the Oedipus complex (215). For example, psychoanalytic critics devote a great deal of energy to accounting for Hamlet's delay; but Hamlet directly states his motive when he finds Claudius at prayer: the villain deserves to go to hell (3.3.93-95). Dating back to the 1750's, critics have struggled with a hero voicing plans for a person's damnation. The speech has been censored, denied, and omitted, but disbelieving Hamlet's own words "lies at the root of the internalizing urge in critical readings of the character" (218). Those "who internalize the action of Hamlet are not in fact discussing Shakespeare's play at all, but a palimpsest created through repression in the middle of the eighteenth century, a palimpsest that was subsequently digested and transmitted into the folklore of the play" (220).

So, this article says that when a character states directly his motives, it obviously supersedes any indirect or buried references, scenarios, or theories a critic may have about Hamlet.  Not to mention that Hamlet is a dramatic character, not an actual human being.  Literary characters do not have psychological problems, for they are at the whim and mercy of their authors and audiences.  Any theories otherwise stated subvert the facts of the text, reducing it to simply a venue for which a critic's theories are slapped on.

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