Is there any basis for the Freudian interpretation of an Oedipal attraction between Hamlet and his mother?women characters Gertude and Ophelia

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appletrees eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly this is a theme that has caused controversy; particularly since the concept of an Oedipus Complex was not developed until hundreds of years after Shakespeare wrote this play. But the plot of Oedipus and the psychological implications would very likely have been known by Shakespeare. Hamlet's desire to avenge his mother's second marriage is in part prompted by how quickly she remarried after his father's death, but also because she married her own brother-in-law, an act that could be seen on some level as incest. The incest taboo is also repeated in the speculated theme of Hamlet's attraction to his own mother. Some stage productions, most notably the London production in 1989 starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Judi Dench, portray this theme very prominently, with Day-Lewis (Hamlet) passionately kissing Dench (Gertrude), leaving her shocked and traumatized.