The term consciousness refers to "one’s awareness of internal and external stimuli. The unconscious contains thoughts, memories, and desires that are well below the surface of awareness but that nonetheless exert great influence on behavior."(Weiten) The core of the Freudian perspective is centered around Hamlet’s relationship with his mother, and the relationship of Hamlet and King Claudius. According to the Freudian view, Hamlet is driven by unconscious sexual desire and aggravation. This sexual aggression is directed towards his mother and Claudius.
The mystery of Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a phantom of literary debate that has haunted readers throughout the centuries. Hamlet is a complete enigma; a puzzle scholars have tried to piece together since his introduction to the literary world. Throughout the course of Hamlet, the reader is constantly striving to rationalize Hamlet’s odd behavior, mostly through the play’s written text. In doing so, many readers mistakenly draw their conclusions based on the surface content of Hamlet’s statements and actions.
When drawing into question Hamlet’s actions as well as his reasons for acting, many assume that Hamlet himself is fully aware of his own motives. This assumption in itself produces the very matter in question. Take for example Hamlet’s hesitation to kill the king. Hamlet believes that his desire to kill King Claudius is driven by his fathers’ demand for revenge. If this were true, Hamlet would kill Claudius the moment he has the chance, if not the moment he knows for sure that Claudius is guilty of murdering his father. Why does Hamlet hesitate? One must call into question what Hamlet holds to be true. If Hamlet’s g...
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...n personality, and that he cannot kill Claudius without killing himself. As a result Hamlet’s only solution is to die along with Claudius.
Thus, by digging into Hamlet’s unconscious, his true unconscious motives have been unveiled. In overlooking the obvious, the true force behind Hamlet’s actions and inaction has been revealed, resulting in a final product that is an extensive comprehension of Hamlet’s character, and is, as Gertrude would say "more matter than art".
Shakespeare, William. The Tradegy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark. New York: Washington Square Press, 1992
Hall, Calvin s. A Primer of Freudian Psychology New York: Harper and Row, 1954
Jones, Ernest. Hamlet and Oedipus. Newyork: W W Norton and company, 1976
Weiten, Wayne. Psychology: Themes and Variations, Fourth Editon. Boston: Brooks/Cole Publishing Co., 1998
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