Looking at Hamlet Through a Freudian Lens

Topics: Sigmund Freud, Unconscious mind, Psychoanalysis Pages: 3 (1103 words) Published: September 25, 2013

Looking at Hamlet through a Freudian Lens
The human mind is one of the world’s greatest mysteries. For generations, scientists from many fields have studied the homo-sapien brain to try and solve the age-old mystery. One of the most famous psychologists to delve into the cranial puzzle is Sigmund Freud. Freud developed many theories on the human species according to development and habits. His psychoanalysis has been transferred into literature over the years. When reading William Shakespeare’s Hamlet through a Freudian lens, one can really pick up the unconscious happenings in Hamlet’s mind and his display of a common complex rooting in ancient times.

The first part of Freud’s psychoanalytic theory consists of analyzing the subconscious mind on three levels. Starting from birth, “The id is … [the] aspect of personality [that] is entirely unconscious and includes of the instinctive and primitive behaviors… [It] is driven by the pleasure principle, which strives for immediate gratification of all desires, wants, and needs. If these needs are not satisfied immediately, the result is a state anxiety or tension” (Cherry). Hamlet’s main goal in the tragedy is to avenge his father’s death by killing his uncle, Claudius. In the first act, Hamlet comes into contact with the ghost of his father’s spirit and it commands him, “Let not the royal bed of Denmark be a couch for luxury and damned incest” (Shakespeare, I.5. 89-90). He basically tells Hamlet to avenge his wrongful death done by Claudius. Hamlet then tells the ghost “…thy commandment all alone shall live within the book and volume of my brain” (Shakespeare, I.5.109-110). With this, one can see that Hamlet stores this desire in the back depths of his mind (his id). A younger man would be consumed with anxiety by the prolonging of the gratification of this dark need, but Hamlet has something in him to help him cope with this temptation.

Within Hamlet lies the second layer of the subconscious mind, the ego....
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