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Psychology in Hamlet English 640 Dr. Fike. Today’s Topics Two strands of psychology relevant to Hamlet’s situation: –Elizabethan psychology –Psychoanalysis.

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Presentation on theme: "Psychology in Hamlet English 640 Dr. Fike. Today’s Topics Two strands of psychology relevant to Hamlet’s situation: –Elizabethan psychology –Psychoanalysis."— Presentation transcript:

1 Psychology in Hamlet English 640 Dr. Fike

2 Today’s Topics Two strands of psychology relevant to Hamlet’s situation: –Elizabethan psychology –Psychoanalysis Main point: Psychology adds another dimension to Hamlet’s uncertainty and hesitation.

3 Elizabethan Psychology What is up with this passage? – : “my tables”? –What is Hamlet’s point here?

4 Chart Being a  contemplation,  inability to student melancholy act; hesitation POINT: A life of contemplation makes Hamlet ill-suited to the decisive action that that ghost demands (U of M story). REASON: He is too concerned with the consequences of his actions (cf. the way he considers the consequences of suicide and of dispatching Claudius during prayer). Excellent source on melancholy: Lawrence Babb, The Elizabethan Malady

5 Being a Student This in itself is not conducive to action, but there is more. Study leads to melancholy, which also makes action difficult. Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy: “study weakens [scholars’] bodies, dulls their spirits, abates their strength and courage; and good scholars are never good soldiers” (I ). Hamlet’s melancholy is our first major topic for today.

6 Analogy Chart, First Slide OIL REFINERY Propane Gasoline Kerosene Diesel Lubricants Semi-solids Lightest and most volatile Heaviest and least volatile

7 Analogy Chart, Second Slide: See Bedford Hot and dry—choler (choleric) Hot and moist—blood (sanguine) Cold and moist— phlegm (phlegmatic) Cold and dry—black bile (melancholy): a.k.a. the scholars’ disease Hotspur Falstaff Antonio (MV) Hamlet

8 Points: The mixture of elements determines your personality. Dürer’s Melancholy: m m

9 Examples of Hamlet’s Melancholy : lethargy : joylessness : can’t express his feelings and is subject to demon affliction; melancholy makes the ghost’s identity dubious

10 Other Characteristics Brooding Despondency Suicidal impulses Cynical satire Mood swings Fits and starts of rash activity (like stabbing Polonius)

11 Points Hamlet obviously has some of these characteristics, but he is also playing the role of a nut job: – : “As I perchance hereafter shall think meet / To put an antic disposition on.” – : “I am but mad north-north-west” (i.e., only partly). – : “I essentially am not in madness, / But mad in craft.” –POINT: There’s method in his madness. He will attempt “By indirections [to] find directions out,” in the words of Polonius (2.1.67). Still, Hamlet’s soliloquies reveal genuine melancholy characteristics.

12 How do you cure melancholy? Remember: Hamlet is a student, he has lost the throne, and his dad is dead: good reasons to be bummed out : The king proposes a cure. Typical cures: –Taking the air, travel, change of scene –Stress reduction –Analogy: going to Miami beach for spring break

13 Does it work? : “the readiness is all” (Zen-like) Something about Hamlet’s sea voyage transforms him. Sea change: wimpologist  man of action (epic hero?).

14 The Second Strand of Psychology Freudian Psychoanalysis

15 Psychoanalysis Major source: Ernest Jones, Hamlet and Oedipus Major principles of the Oedipus Complex: –Hatred of the father –Love of the mother –The boy represses these feelings into his unconscious mind, hence the development of the superego and the further hesitation to act on the repressed urges.

16 Chart Fathers and Father Figures Ghost Claudius Polonius Old Fortinbras Fortinbras’s uncle Priam Player king Jephthah ( ) Sons and Son Figures Hamlet Laertes Fortinbras Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Lucianus Pyrrhus/Neoptolemus Horatio Claudius

17 Question How many mothers and mother figures are there?

18 Answer Gertrude, Hecuba, and the player queen Of these, only Gertrude is an actual character.

19 Points Remember, of course, that there were no female actors in Shakespeare’s day. Fatherhood is dispersed among a number of characters; therefore, the Oedipal hatred finds multiple objects. Hostility toward the father is reflected in the proliferation of father figures. Motherhood is centered on one character: Gertrude. The Oedipal love is intensely focused because it is exclusively focused. Condensation of the mother into one figure suggests the intensity of love of the mother.

20 But wait: there’s more! Claudius is both a father figure to Hamlet and a son figure to Hamlet, Senior (cf. Oliver in AYLI). As a son figure, Claudius has done the thing that Hamlet wishes to do but has repressed into his unconscious mind, the result being the superego. But mentally, Hamlet has committed the same crime (killing Hamlet, Sr.). How, then, can he punish Claudius for doing the thing that he himself wanted to do? So he delays. Claudius is also a father figure to Hamlet (“I am too much in the sun,” he puns at ). He doesn’t kill Claudius because doing so is too close to the taboo Oedipal act of father killing—the desire Hamlet has repressed into his unconscious mind. Again, Hamlet’s superego is very strong.

21 Another Possibility Maybe Claudius is Hamlet’s biological father. Maybe if he kills Claudius, he kills his REAL FATHER! Again, Hamlet is too close to acting out the repressed Oedipal fantasy. The Pyrrhus stuff in 2.2 is a Freudian “act of compromise”: like Hal’s decision to reject Falstaff rather than his father. And a further remove: “One speech in ‘t I chiefly loved: ‘twas Aeneas’ tale to Dido, and thereabout of it especially when he speaks of Priam’s slaughter” ( ).

22 Summary of Key Points Hamlet’s melancholy leads to uncertainty and hesitation. The conflict between Hamlet’s Oedipal feelings and his superego leads to hesitation.

23 Jungian Psychology--Typology Hamlet Thinking Introversion Gertrude Feeling Extraversion

24 Jungian Psychology Characters represent parts of Hamlet’s psyche: –Ophelia = rejected anima (this leads to negative anima, as in the references to prostitution) –Laertes = the shadow –Polonius = father, fool, scapegoat –Rosencrantz & Guildenstern = tricksters –Horatio = reason –Gertrude = the terrible mother –Ghost = the warrior father or the racial father (connection to instinct) –Claudius = shadow of Hamlet, Sr. –Fortinbras = the warrior

25 Possible Jungian Interpretations The sea voyage furthers Hamlet’s psychic integration (the individuation process): his encounter with the pirates = an encounter with his own shadow. The fight with Laertes in the graveyard = acknowledgement of his shadow. Ophelia’s death ends the possibility of properly integrating his feminine side. My position: Hamlet does do a lot of work with his shadow, but he runs out of time and does not integrate his anima.

26 The Graveyard Scene A probably too-optimistic reading by Elizabeth Oakes: “Hamlet can leap into Ophelia’s grave and emerge, an action that not only graphically illustrates his rebirth but also foreshadows his spirit’s victory over death at the end of the play” (112). See ff.

27 My Take “The only trouble here is that it is her brother Laertes, rather than erstwhile suitor Hamlet, who leaps into Ophelia’s grave. Regarding this detail, there is wishful thinking afoot among the play’s Jungian critics. Rogers-Gardner also claims that Hamlet jumps into Ophelia’s grave (14), and Porterfield has Hamlet leap into it with Laertes (94). The stage directions have Laertes grapple with Hamlet a few lines later and do not say whether Laertes leaps out of the grave or whether Hamlet leaps in. Although directorial license permits Hamlet to join Laertes in Ophelia’s grave, the text does not support this interpretation. Instead Hamlet’s statement—that Laertes attempts “To outface me with leaping in her grave”— suggests that he himself does not do so ( ). As a result, a statement about Hamlet’s grave-leaping in connection with symbolic rebirth is simply not accurate.” --Dr. Fike


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