“Hamlet” is probably the most famous work of the English playwright William Shakespeare, which has a lot of hidden sense. It can be mentioned among the deepest and most philosophical works of this author, which demonstrate different sides of the human soul. From this point of view, psychoanalytic theory is good for explanation of “Hamlet” as it underlines that “a character’s outward behavior might conflict with inner desires, or might reflect as-yet-undiscovered inner desires” (Hamlet Lesson Guide 32). This approach explains the actions of Prince of Denmark and other characters. The presence and operation of psychoanalytic theory can be easily traced in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” because this play includes strong Oedipal connotations, an attempt to find a balance between id and superego, and the important meaning of dreams.
The first aspect, which is present in “Hamlet”, and can be connected to the explanations of psychoanalytic theory, is the presence of Oedipal connotations and, specifically, the Oedipal complex. From the first point of view, Hamlet seems to have a very strong connection with his father, which can be seen even after his death. Prince of Denmark is deeply concerned about the fact that his father has passed away, and he has many ideas about it. The Ghost of his father visits Hamlet, tells the truth about his death, and asks for revenge (Shakespeare 57). It can be assumed that the father also has the strong connection with the son. At the same time, the psychoanalytic theory claims that it can be explained by the “father’s envy of the son” (Hamlet Lesson Guide 32). Father understands that revenge is the risk for the life of Hamlet; however, envy forces him to ask the son for it. Another aspect of Oedipal complex present in play is the son’s desire for his mother (Hamlet Lesson Guide 32). Hamlet is very angry at his mother, Gertrude, that she married his uncle Claudius after the death of his father (Shakespeare 85). On the one hand, it can be explained by his love to father, hate to Claudius, and thought that mother has betrayed his father by this marriage. However, some of Hamlet’s reactions are too bright, which can bring the readers to the conclusion that there is something more in them. It can be explained from the point of view of the psychoanalytic theory as an unconscious sexual desire of Hamlet to Gertrude. The power of superego helps the character to hide the real wishes behind the social obligations; however, the truth can be seen with the help of analysis. Generally, the Oedipal connotations are the most visible part of the psychoanalytic theory that can be observed in the play “Hamlet”.
Another aspect of the psychoanalytic theory, which can be easily traced in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, is the ego part of personality as an attempt to find the balance between the id and superego part. It can be seen in expressions of the most of the characters but, specifically, in the image of Prince of Denmark. This balance and probable conflict are also connected to an eternal struggle of two forces in personality, which are life and death. This struggle can be seen in the famous soliloquy of Hamlet, where he says: “To be or not to be – that is the question” (Shakespeare 127). On the one hand, Hamlet’s id does not find the sense to live because the life is full of pain and suffering. According to psychoanalytic theory, id is the unconscious desire, which “is the fundamental root of what each person wants” (Hamlet Lesson Guide 32). In case the person does not find any desire, he or she unconsciously starts searching for death, and it probably happens to Hamlet. On the other hand, there is superego of the main character, according to which the sense of life lies in the struggle. It is “the repository of all socially imposed behavior and sense of guilt” (Hamlet Lesson Guide 33). That is why Hamlet plans revenge to Claudius and other similar actions. However, because of this inner struggle, Hamlet’s ego seems to go through the conflict, which finally leads the character to death.
The last aspect, which helps to analyze the play “Hamlet” through the prism of psychoanalytic theory, is the meaning of dreams in this literary work. Dreams and inner monologues can be considered an important part life of the characters from the point of view of psychoanalysis (Literary Critical Theory 9). In his soliloquy, Hamlet underlines the fact that the dreams are uncertain. He claims that “For in that sleep of death what dreams may come” (Shakespeare 127). The main character says that the dream can be often compared to death, which is also full of uncertain issues. In psychoanalytic theory, dreams are considered a place “where a person’s subconscious desires are revealed” (Hamlet Lesson Guide 32). It means that the dreams are uncertain but they can often explain the real wishes of people, which are not accepted by consciousness.
Overall, the play “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark” can be considered one of the greatest works of English dramatist William Shakespeare. It is a great tragedy, which is full of hidden sense. One of the goals of psychoanalytic theory is also to reveal the hidden sense from the human minds to make their life better. The operation and presence of psychoanalysis can be seen in play “Hamlet” because it includes Oedipal complex’s issues, looking for the balance between superego and id, and the significant dreams’ meaning.
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