Hamlet's Oedipal Complex

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Hamlet's Oedipal Complex

In William Shakespeare's, Hamlet, the Oedipus complex plays a critical role in the affairs of the young prince. Sigmund Freud's theory states that it is normal for children to have sexual desires for their parent of the opposite sex. He says that it is also normal to have feelings of hatred for the other parent that is of the same sex as the child. Most children experience these feelings at a very young age, after which the feelings are overcome or in some individuals become deeply suppressed. Those that carry on these feelings into adulthood are considered to have an Oedipus complex. These feelings, in some cases, are linked to a physical separation between father and son. This leads the child into a paradoxical state of masculinity, wherein the child spends much of his time solely with the mother, and yet a sense of guilt or femininity, because the mother is significantly older. This sense of guilt and femininity also prevents Hamlet from identifying with women their own age, a societal norm. Furthermore, Hamlet's Oedipal feelings have been buried within him since his childhood. These feelings were hidden during the life of Hamlet, Sr. because the two had a strong connection. However, the death of King Hamlet and hasty marriage to Gertrude by Claudius sparked jealousy within Hamlet. He felt no connection to Claudius, nor felt guilty by having feelings for his mother. It was due to this event that Hamlet's latent Oedipal Complex took over. Although Freud outlined this complex almost 300 years after the publication of Hamlet, Shakespeare's characterizations in regards to the Oedipus complex cannot be refuted. The three main aspects including hatred of the father, intimate desires of the mother, and disconnection from the loving Ophelia show Hamlet's embodiment of the Oedipus complex. Hamlet's actions and mental health are affected by the presence of these Oedipal qualities.

Freud had said that the son takes the mother as the...
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