Do you think it was Shakespeare's intent to render Hamlet as having an Oedipal Complex?Hamlet by William Shakespeare

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The renowned critic, Harold Bloom, writes in his introduction to Shakespeare:  The Invention of the Human,

Shakespeare will abide, even if he were to be expelled by the academics, in itself most unlikely.  He extensively informs the language we speak, his principal character have become our mythology, and he, rather than his involuntary follower Freud, is our psychologist.

From Bloom's remark, and from what is known about Freud, it would seem that the great bard did intend for Hamlet's relationship with his mother to be somewhat more intensified than usual. However, as Freud contended, one's first love affair is with one's parent of the opposite gender; so, perhaps, Hamlet has simply extended this love affair of the baby too long.  And, since he is an only child, that this relationship should have continued beyond its normal duration is not so unusual as, being the only child, his attentions would naturally be drawn to his mother without the distraction of siblings.  At any rate, it is apparent, as Bloom remarks, that Freud examined these human traits in Hamlet and in other sons such as Oedipus Rex and drew his conclusions from these observations. Interestingly, Sigmund Freud himself had an Oedipal complex as he stated that his sexual wishes for his mother brought him into conflict with his powerful father.  In his book Freud:  Darkness in the Midst of Vision, Louis Breger writes,

These ideas, of course, were elaborated over the years into his theory of the Oedipus complex and used to explain Sophocles's Oedipus Rex and Shakespeare's Hamlet....



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