Freudian Analysis of Shakespeare’s Hamlet
According to Dr. Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, we all have repressed wishes and desires; (Barlow, Durand) one of the most common of these repressed desires is the Oedipus Complex. In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the Oedipus Complex remains repressed, and we only learn of its existence through the effects which proceed from it. With the untimely death of Hamlet’s father and his mother’s rushed remarriage, Hamlet’s unacceptable, yet tantalizing thought of sexwith Gertrude causes Hamlet great distress as his unconscious desires agonizingly confuse and disorient Hamlet into a bewildered state of mind.
In the opening scenes of Hamlet, the family unit has been tainted to include Claudius as the father figure in Hamlet’s life. This puts Hamlet in the rather complicated position of choosing between two father figures. In order to assume a more masculine identity, Hamlet must take on the characteristics of his father and slay the false father. Hamlet has clearly adored his father for years, as shown in Act 3, Scene 4 when Hamlet compares his father to Hyperion, the sun-king during an impassioned speech to his mother (173). Thus, after the murder of Hamlet’s father and Gertrude’s rushed marriage, Hamlet feels that he must avenge his father’s death by taking on the role of a devoted and revenge-seeking son. Hamlet justifies his plan of retaliation as a means of earning the as of yet unattainable respect of his father.
Hamlet further imitates his father by posing as the main authority figure, which his father had done. Hamlet continues to take on the characteristics of the father he idolized, fulfilling the repressed wishes of the Oedipus Complex. Freud says “…Wish fulfillment is the desire, unconsciously motivated, to attain those things that provide us with pleasure. This pleasure may or may not be the best thing for our psyche but this does not stop the ID (the natural matrix of basic...