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Shakespeare and Freudian Theory Hamlet and Titus Andronicus

Uploaded by Gotskillz on Jul 04, 2004

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.

Shakespeare and Freudian theory in Hamlet and Titus Andronicus


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 Interpretation of Dreams we all have repressed wishes and desires. One of the most common of these repressed desires is the wish to sexually possess the parent of the opposite sex and eliminate the same sex parent. Freud named this theory the Oedipus Complex (which he discusses in detail in an essay entitled Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction Between the Sexes). This was named after the mythical Oedipus who killed his father and married his mother without knowing that they were his parents. In Oedipus Rex the basic wish-fantasy of the child...

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Uploaded by:   Gotskillz

Date:   07/04/2004

Category:   Hamlet

Length:   11 pages (2,429 words)

Views:   9444

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