Study Guide

Hamlet by William Shakespeare in Psychoanalysis

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Hamlet is practically tailor-made for Freudians.

The sheer number of Freudian concepts that are applicable to Shakespeare's magnum opus is crazy. There is a father who must be avenged, but also a sense of guilt so overpowering that it paralyzes the hero, leaving him famously unable to act.

How's that for procrastination? Psychoanalysts trace Hamlet's sense of guilt to the relief or even satisfaction this Prince of Denmark felt after his father's murder.

What an awful thing to feel, Hamlet must have thought. And this thought must have led to all his hesitation and hand-wringing, as well as his repeated failure to fulfill his father's commands.

And even when the prince eventually fulfills his father's commands, things don't just magically get better. The cycles of violence and father-son kerfuffles are endlessly perpetuated in Hamlet.

The whole play is like Freud for Dummies, only much more fun to watch.

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