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Oedipal Complex in Hamlet Essay

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Hamlet and the Oedipal Complex

In Shakespeare's Hamlet, the title character's main, and only flaw, is his delay. This seems to constitute the central part in Hamlet. By the definition of tragedy, there should exist a flaw in the character of the main hero, who is a great personality that is engaged in a struggle that ends catastrophically. Various reasons for Hamlet's delay are given. Important issues like madness, melancholy and cowardice are discussed, but the evidence reveals that he is capable of swift action, we deem him as an intelligent man and can therefore conclude that he is only pretending madness. To regard him simply as suffering from melancholy is not a sufficient explanation as he is eager to avenge the death of his father, but cannot bring himself to take action. It is obvious that the reason for not carrying out the revenge is not due to any moral apprehensions or fear of divine retribution. There is something special about this task that makes it impossible for Hamlet to carry out the deed. The inability to take action stems from distinctive feelings within Hamlet, his Oedipal Complex.

Hamlet has the perfect opportunity to kill Claudius in Act 3 Scene 3, yet he fails to seize it. He fears that killing Claudius will automatically send Claudius to heaven without punishment. Hamlet himself remarks: "And now I'll do't. And so `a goes to heaven; and so I am revenged. That would be scanned: A villain kills my father, and for that I, his sole son do this same villain to heaven." (3.3.74-78). Hamlet may believe he is delaying from fear of sending Claudius to a "heavenly" afterlife; however, there are times when Hamlet could have killed Claudius when he was not at prayer. Claudius is not ...

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... he is delaying out of fear is invalid. Hamlet also may have plenty of time to kill Claudius when he is not in prayer, so any interpretation that includes Hamlet's concerns for Claudius' afterlife is also invalid. Both of these interpretations rely on Hamlet being conscious of his actions. If Hamlet is not conscious of his behaviour, it must be because his desire stems from that part of him in which he is unaware, his id.

Works Cited and Consulted

Guerin, Wilfred L., Earle Labor, Lee Morgan, Jeanne C. Reeseman, and John R. Willingham. A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Leong, Virginia. "The Oedipal Complex." 06 December 1997. (07 December 1997)

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The Riverside Shakespeare. ED. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Haughton Mifflin Company, 1974.

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