Essays Hamlet And The Oedipus Complex

Essays Hamlet And The Oedipus Complex-12
JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit organization that also includes Ithaka S R and Portico. 8 Riklin: Wunscherfiillung und Symbolik im Marchen, 1908. In the first place the play is almost universally considered to be the chief master- piece of one of the greatest minds the world has known.For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] EX AS AN EXPLANATION OF HAMLET'S MYSTERY: A STUDY IN MOTIVE By Ernest JONES, M. (London), University of Toronto English-speaking psychologists have as yet paid relatively little attention to the study of genius and of artistic creative- ness, at least so far as the method of analysing in detail the life-history of individual men of genius is concerned. EXPLANATION OF HAMLET'S MYSTERY 73 works under the impulsion of an apparently external force; indeed, being unaware of the origin of his inspiration, it fre- quently happens that he ascribes it to an actual external agency, divine or otherwise. It probably expresses the core of Shakspere's philosophy and outlook on life as no other work of his does, and so far excels all his other writings that many competent critics would place it on an entirely separate level from them.

This train of thought need not here be further developed, for it is really irrelevant to discuss the cause of Hamlet's general aboulia if, as will presently be maintained, this did not exist; the argument, then, must remain unconvincing except to those who already accept it.

Attempts to attribute Hamlet's general aboulia to less constitutional causes, such as to grief due to the death of his father and adultery of his mother, 1 are simi- larly inefficacious, for psycho-pathology has clearly demon- strated that such grief is in itself quite inadequate as an explanation of this condition.

He thus stands for what may roughly be called the type of an intellect over-developed at the expense of the will, and in Germany he has frequently been held up as a warning example to university professors who shew signs of losing themselves in abstract trains of thought at the expense of con- tact with reality. Ein Deutscher braucht nur eine schoae, leserliche Hand dazu.

7 There are at least three grave objections to this view of Hamlet's hesitancy, one based on general psychological con- siderations and the others on objective evidence furnished by the play. Er schreibt sich ab und Hamlet ist fertig." EXPLANATION OF HAMLBT'S MYSTBRY 77 conduct.

Scepticism leads to a simplification of motive in general, and to a reduction in the number of those motives that are efficacious; it brings about a lack of ad- herence to certain conventional, ones rather than a general failure in the springs of action.

Every student of clinical psychology knows that any such general weakening in energy is invariably due to another cause than intellectual scepticism, namely, to the functioning of abnormal unconscious complexes.

3 Stedefeld: Hamlet, ein Tendenzdrama Sheakespeare's gegen die skeptische und kosmopolitische Weltanschauung des M. 6 Plumptre: Observations on Hamlet, being an attempt to prove that Shakespeare designed his tragedie as an indirect censure on Mary, Queen of Scots, 1796. A view fairly representative of the pure Goethe school would run as follows: Owing to his highly developed intellectual powers, and his broad and many-sided sympathies, Hamlet could never take a simple view of any question, but always saw a number of different aspects and possible explanations of every problem. Already in 1816 Borne in his Dramaturgischen Blattern had cleverly developed this idea.

A given course of ac- tion never seemed to him unequivocal and obvious, so that in practical life his scepticism and reflective powers paralysed his conduct. 7 See for instance Kostlin : Shakespeare und Hamlet. He closes one article with the words "Hatte ein Deutscher den Hamlet gemacht, so wiirde ich mich gar nicht dariiber wundern.

The difficulty experienced by the artist in arriving at the precise meaning of the creation to which he is labouring to give birth has been brilliantly demonstrated by Bernard Shaw 8 in the case of Ibsen and Wagner. In his capacity to describe human conduct directly as he ob- served it, and without any reference to the past or future evo- lution of motive, lay at the same time his strength and his weakness.

In a more conscious age than his or ours Shak- spere's works would necessarily lose much of their interest. 76 JONES to some defect in Hamlet's constitution, was independently elaborated more than a century ago by Goethe, 1 Schlegel 2 and Coleridge.


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