In 1900 the eminent Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud produced a seminal work entitled The Interpretation of Dreams which contains the idea that dreams allow psychic exploration of the soul, that dreams contain psychological meanings which can be arrived at by interpretation. Freud states that “every dream will reveal itself as a psychological structure, full of significance, and one which may be assigned to a specific place in the psychic activities of the waking state.” According to Freud’s original formulations dreams have two contents, a manifest content which is the dream that one actually experiences and a latent content which is the meaning of the dream as discovered by interpretation.
Literature can be thought of in the same manner, as a figment of the imagination whose underlying truth can be discovered through interpretation. A piece of literature may have a truth to tell but it can may remain hidden to us until such time as we interpret its signs. According to Freud there are three routes into the unconscious; dreams, parapraxes (or slips of the tongue) and jokes, and it is evident that psychoanalysis asks us to pay a lot of attention to language, in puns, slips of the tongue etc. This suggests how psychoanalysis is directly related to literary criticism, since both kinds of analysis focus on close readings of language. Therefore, by understanding Freudian theory, we can gain a deeper understanding of literature.
This essay attempts to discover how Freud’s psychoanalytical accounts of human nature can bring us to a deeper understanding of the family relationships at work in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Titus Andronicus.
According to Freud’s The Interpr...
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...s, in Bevington, David Twentieth Century Interpretations of Hamlet. (New Jersey:Prentice Hall, 1968)
Kovesi, Dr S. Lecture handout ‘Titus Andronicus and Psychoanalysis’ (2001)
Shakespeare, W. Hamlet and Titus Andronicus in The Oxford Shakespeare ed. Olver, H.J (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982)
Information regarding Freud’s theory and works taken from website addresses
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Crete/4158 (General information)
http://www.freudpage.com/en-us/freud/psychotheory1.html (Classic Psychoanalytic Theory)
http://www.mii.kurume-u.ac.jp/~leuers/Freud.htmn (Psychoanalytic Theory)
http://www.geocities.com/~mhrowell/ (Psychoanalytic Theory)
http://fox.klte.hu/~keresofi/psychotherapy/index.shtml (Dictionary of Psychoanalytical Terms)
http://www.vuw.ac.nz/psyc/vornikFreud/FRONT.HTM (General information and Psychoanalytic Theory)
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