Hamlet Literary Theories

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Psychoanalytic Criticism
According to a popular Freudian theory, children are sexually attracted to their parent of the opposite sex. Most of the time, the child ends up getting into relationships with people that are reminiscent of their parent of the opposite sex. In Hamlet, the main character, Hamlet, seems to be following this Freudian theory. When Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, remarries after Hamlet’s father’s death, Hamlet is enraged and hates his stepfather. It seems as though Hamlet does not want anyone to love his mother because he wants to love her the most. He also does not want his mother to give any attention to his new stepfather because he wants all of his mother’s love, affection and attention to be on him. This situation is brought to light especially when Hamlet says to his mother, “Good night, but go not to mine uncle's bed” (Act 3, Scene 4). Hamlet was telling his mother good night but not to go in his uncle’s (now stepfather’s) bed. According to this theory, this is because Hamlet does not want his mother to have sexual relations with his stepfather because he wants his mother’s love and affection all to himself. Many believe that Hamlet’s unnatural love for mother is what gave him the incapability to love Ophelia properly. This resulted in Ophelia killing herself because she felt that Hamlet did not love her. He treated Ophelia very poorly and acted like a fool in front of her. Hamlet’s unnatural love for his mother stopped him from loving others.

Moral Criticism
In Hamlet, revenge is a very big theme. Hamlet seeks revenge for his father’s death which is against Christian teaching. At the beginning, Hamlet’s father appears as a ghost and orders Hamlet to get revenge by killing the new King Claudius (his murderer). Hamlet had to choose between following his father’s orders and going against the Christian ways and committing a sin or to dismiss his father’s ghost’s wishes and go with the Christian ways. At the time, Christianity and...
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