Hamlet's Sanity Answered Through Freudian Theories

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Hamlet's Sanity Answered Through Freudian Theories
Sigmund Freud was the founder of modern psychology. and throughout his life he produced theories about the human mind that were revolutionary for his time. His thoughts about human sexuality, the conscious and subconscious mind, the structure of the mind, and psychotherapeutic techniques are the basis of human psychology. (Thornton) Freudian theories about human behaviour and the human mind are commonly used in psychology today. His theories, in one way or another, can apply to every person living or dead. Although Sigmund Freud lived centuries after William Shakespeare wrote his play Hamlet, Freudian theories can also be applied to the main character Hamlet and explain his sometime erratic behaviour. Through his theories of the Oedipal Complex, transference psychology, and the defence mechanisms, Hamlet's behaviour can be better understood, and therefore help answer the question of his sanity.

According to Freud, men and boys go through what he calls the Oedipal Complex, the theory stating that they subconsciously have sexual feelings for their mothers. ("Oedipus Complex (psychology)")According to this theory, these feelings grow from the strong connection that children already have with their mothers from infancy. Mothers provide protection, love, and support that makes a young child automatically attached to them. ("Oedipus Complex") When a child hits the age of sexual awakening, aged three to six, children will create an erotic attachment to the parent, generally, of the opposite sex. ("Oedipus Complex (psychology)") Although the feelings are not fully recognized by the child they are present in their subconscious mind. ("Oedipus Complex") Once this attachment is developed, a young boy will feel like they are competing for the affection of their mothers with their fathers. Boys may become jealous of any affection given to their fathers and may lead to them wanting to exclude their fathers so that all attention is on them. Once they hit puberty, the boy will learn to change the way he loves his mother to be less romantic, and not be as concerned with the competition with his father. However, through this transition, a boy will find that anyone he feels sexually attracted to, may remind him of his mother. ("Oedipus Complex") Also, for some boys the relationship they have with their mother is the first close female relationship they have. Any female relationships boys have, sexual and otherwise, will always be compared to the relationship that they have with their mother. ("Oedipus Complex (psychology)")

The Oedipus Complex has many parallels to Hamlet because of Hamlet's relationship with his mother Gertrude. Hamlet's father dies and Gertrude marries his uncle Claudius. Hamlet has a strange connection to their marriage and often talks about their sex life. "She married. O, most wicked speed, to post/With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!" (Shakespeare I.ii.156-7). Hamlet begins to struggle with the thought of his mother having sex with another man, and goes back to his competition for affection because of his feelings. According to Freud's theory, by losing his father, Hamlet feels he should no longer have to compete for Gertrude's affection because his only other competition is now dead. Claudius ruins this by marrying his mother and Hamlet, has to start the whole competition over again. This leads Hamlet back to a sexual awakening, this time with a much more disturbing, more complex version. This new sexual awakening heightens Hamlet's affection for his mother to real romantic feelings. This also leads Hamlet back into jealousy of the other parent. Hamlet becomes jealous of the fact that Claudius gets to be with Gertrude because it is a desire that he will never be able fulfill. Hamlet tries to make Claudius look bad in front of Denmark because when addressed Hamlet only answers with "A little more kin and less than kind" (I.ii.64). Hamlet takes his...
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