Throughout the years, there have been many interpretations of Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus. However, one of the most interesting interpretations of the play would have to be one that uses the theories of Sigmund Freud to analyze the actions of the characters. The use of various aspects of Freudian theory such as the id, ego, superego, and the Oedipus Complex reveals Oedipus and his behaviors throughout the course of the play.
In order to completely understand Oedipus and his actions, we must first understand the basics of Freud’s theories. One of the most well known aspects of Freudian theory is the Oedipus Complex. We can already see a relationship between the Oedipus Complex and the play just by looking at the name of this particular theory. The Oedipus Complex is a characteristic of young boys in which they experience a strong attachment toward their mother and feelings of hatred and jealousy toward their father. "The ‘little man’ would like to have the mother all to himself. The father’s presence is disturbing [to the boy]. When the [father] shows tenderness toward the little boy’s mother, the little boy is irritated, and he expresses satisfaction when the father is away or on a journey" (Mullahay 25). The young child would like to have his mother’s attention at all times, and he would also like to have his father out of the picture. The Oedipus Complex theory also states that the boy may not only want his father out of the picture, but he may also want to be in his father’s place when it comes to having sexual relations with the mother. According to Freud, many boys have this strong desire to be sexually intimate with their mother.
Another of Freud’s theo...
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...known of his secret desires and wanted to castrate him. In this way, castration theory can be related to the Oedipus Complex and the theory of the id, ego, and superego.
To many, Freud’s theories seem bizarre and eccentric. Once we learn and understand his ideas, we can see how these theories can be connected with Oedipus Tyrannus. Now that we understand Freud’s ideas, and his interpretation of Oedipus Tyrannus, we can make our own judgements and form our own thoughts and ideas of the play.
Mullahay, Patrick. Oedipus Myth and Complex. A Review of Psychoanalytic Theory. New York: Hermitage Press, 1951.
"Psychoanalytic Criticism." Assumptions College. Worcester, Massachusetts. October 11, 2000 http://www.aswsumption.edu/HTML/Academic/users/ady/HHGateway/Gateway/Psychapp.html.
Rudnytski, Peter. Freud and Oedipus. New York: Columbia UP, 1987.
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