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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: March ::
Re: Oedipal Hamlets
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0687  Thursday, 7 March 2002

[1]     From:   Dana Shilling <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 6 Mar 2002 11:48:38 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0673 Re: Oedipal Hamlets

[2]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 6 Mar 2002 17:24:04 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0673 Re: Oedipal Hamlets


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Shilling <
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Date:           Wednesday, 6 Mar 2002 11:48:38 -0500
Subject: 13.0673 Re: Oedipal Hamlets
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0673 Re: Oedipal Hamlets

Alycia Smith-Howard said:

> Just a question -- How is Hamlet's reluctance to kill Claudius an
> example of the "truly 'Oedipal' behaviour exhibited by the text," as you
> call it?

I guess if Hamlet actually did want to kill Hamlet Sr. and copulate with
Gertrude, he could be jealous of Claudius for managing to accomplish
what he wanted to do himself, but couldn't really disapprove of it to
the extent of taking vengeance.

> And another: Can we honestly say that the text does "truly exhibit" this
> quality, or that this quality is in fact an interpretative value gleaned
> from psychoanalytic theory, which was then superimposed onto the play,

If you believe in psychoanalytic theory (much virtue in "If") then
certain patterns of thought and feeling have existed throughout human
history.

Dana Shilling

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Wednesday, 6 Mar 2002 17:24:04 -0000
Subject: 13.0673 Re: Oedipal Hamlets
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0673 Re: Oedipal Hamlets

I should answer Alycia Smith-Howard's questions.

"How is Hamlet's reluctance to kill Claudius an example of the 'truly
"Oedipal" behaviour exhibited by the text,' as you call it?"

It is true that I referred to it in this way in my post, but I was
playing devil's advocate - hence the scare quotes around
"'"'"'"Oedipal"'"'''". What I meant was that Hamlet's reluctance is
inexplicable (so Freud's disciples argue) except in terms of the guilt
forced upon him because deep down he really wants to do the same things
Claudius has done (kill dad shack up with mum). I find this tautological
myself.

"Can we honestly say that the text does 'truly exhibit' this quality, or
that this quality is in fact an interpretative value gleaned from
psychoanalytic theory, which was then superimposed onto the play, and
has now become an established part of its "history" (and frankly a
rather tiresome part of its stage history)?"

No, we can't. You're quite right. That's what I mean by tautological in
the passage above.

Either I don't buy psychoanalytical literary theory or I'm in denial.
(Or is that we need the eggs...? Something like that...)

m

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