Hamlet and Oedipus
|LC Class||PR2807 .J63 1976|
The study was written by Sigmund Freud's colleague and biographer Ernest Jones, following on from Freud's own comments on the play, as expressed to Wilhelm Fliess in 1897, before being published in Chapter V of The Interpretation of Dreams (1899).
In Freud's wake, Jones explains Hamlet's mysterious procrastination as a consequence of the Oedipus Complex: the son continually postpones the act of revenge because of the impossibly complicated psychodynamic situation in which he finds himself. Though he hates his fratricidal uncle, he nevertheless unconsciously identifies with him—for, having killed Hamlet's father and married his mother, Claudius has carried out what are Hamlet's own unconscious wishes. In addition, marriage to Hamlet's mother gives the uncle the unconscious status of the father—destructive impulses towards whom provoke great anxiety and meet with repression.
Jones' investigation was first published as "The Oedipus-Complex as An Explanation of Hamlet's Mystery: A Study in Motive" (in The American Journal of Psychology, January 1910); it was later expanded in a 1923 publication; before finally appearing as a book-length study (Hamlet and Oedipus) in 1949.
Freud had originally linked the writing of Hamlet (with its oedipal subtext) to the death of Shakespeare's father in 1601, but had to abandon this view when he gave his support to the Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship – something Jones always rejected in his study.
- Peter Gay, Reading Freud (1990) p. 38
- Peter Gay, Freud (1989) p. 100
- Paul A. Cantor, Shakespeare: Hamlet (2004) p. 21
- Lowell Edmunds, Oedipus (2006) p. 119
- Gay, Reading p. 38
- Gay, Reading p. 37 and p. 15
- http://www.shakespeare-navigators.com/jones/ A summary of and the complete text of Jones' 1910 essay which expanded into his 1949 book, Hamlet and Oedipus.