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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: February ::
Re: Hamlet and Oedipus
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0407  Tuesday, 20 February 2001

From:           Andrew W. White <
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Date:           Monday, 19 Feb 2001 20:17:58 -0500
Subject:        Hamlet and Oedipus

Elena Marine writes:

"... imagine, for instance, a young man who wants to abide by his
father's ideals, and finds consequently that he can't approve of his
mother's way of life even though he loves her. Isn't this close to your
own theory, Andrew?"

That's a good way of putting it, and my apologies if I didn't catch that
the first time around -- it's a more subtle take on the Oedipal theory
than I have come across in the past.  But I would add that Gertrude
feels responsible for Hamlet's unhappiness; she knows that her marriage
was "o'er hasty," (albeit politically necessary) and hence acknowledges
that Hamlet has a right to feel the way he does.

One other problem I still have, and this again may be due to ignorance:
my experience with Oedipal theory is that it is designed to locate the
psychosis in the patient, and this runs the risk of absolving those
around the patient of responsibility.  Freud all too often devoted his
energies to absolving adults of responsibility for their sexual urges
(even when these urges involved the seduction/corruption of underage
boys and girls).  That these were same the adults bringing in their kids
for treatment might have had something to do with it -- who wants to pay
someone to say "_you're_ sick, your kid would be fine if you just
cleaned up your act"?  I'm still on the fence, as far as applying his
theories go.

Andrew White
 

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