In this paper I will further discuss our previous assignment on whether or not writers use madness to stifle their critics. I will use Hamlet and Freud’s Introductory Letters on Psychoanalysis as examples and give some reasons why they would use this technique.
Hamlet, the tragedy by William Shakespeare, is a play that vividly charts the course of real and feigned madness. In the play, the character Hamlet tries to get revenge on his uncle Claudius, who murdered Hamlet’s father, the King, and then took the throne and married Hamlet’s mother. Hamlet kills Polonius, Claudius' trusted chief counselor and Ophelia’s father, which causes a lot of havoc. Hamlet then starts to become mad. There are many parts in the play that depict hamlet’s madness. One example is when Hamlet insists that Ophelia goes into a nunnery. He tries to do this so she does not get involved with his mistakes. Whether his madness is real or fake is truly unknown but it seems as though he is acting just so he does not get executed. The murder of Polonius only makes things worse for Hamlet because Polonius was Ophelia’s father and Ophelia was the love of Hamlet’s life. Eventually Ophelia becomes mad and towards the end of the play she kills herself. This could be seen as Hamlet’s fault because he is the one who killed her father.
This frequency of depictions of madness in nineteenth-century literature in England and America paralleled the growth of the scientific and medical study of insanity.
Since the birth of psychoanalysis in the late 19th century, Hamlet has been the source of such studies, notably by Sigmund Freud. In Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), his analysis starts from the premise that "the play is built up on Hamlet's hesitations over fulfilling the task of revenge that is assigned to him; but its text offers no reasons or motives for these hesitations". After reviewing various literary theories, Freud concludes that Hamlet has an "Oedipal desire for his...