Critical Essay on Hamlet
Shakespeare’s Hamlet is one of the famous classic masterpieces of the world’s literature. It is perceived as a piece of literary art that should entertain despite its dramatism. The characters interact, communicate, and reflect during the play according to the ideas of the author, and probably, they should not be perceived as real people with their controversies, feelings, and even psychological issues. The article written by Ernest Jones and titled “The Psychoanalytic Hamlet,” on the other hand, has presented Hamlet as a person with mental dysfunction. I agree with the author regarding the dialogues, the flow of the play, and the sequence of the events in it. It is worth mentioning that I have never thought about Hamlet in this way, so his psychological profile has become a surprise for me. Now, I see that the protagonist used by Shakespeare, would he be imaginary or not, had a severe mental condition based on some kind of psychological trauma or inappropriate behavior towards him in childhood.
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Hamlet seems so chauvinistic towards women. Such an attitude cannot be called unusual, considering the times the play was written. It can be said that Hamlet could have acted as he did because he had a bad mood and a sick stomach, for example. However, these issues should not lead to killing anyone but, as Jones outlines, Hamlet killed two people who could have been standing between him and his mother, as Hamlet thought. It supports the idea that Hamlet had more serious issues than just a bad mood. Such a bad mood can kill only if a person, who has it, is mentally unstable.
Another issue to consider as the support of Jones’ conclusions is the behavior of Hamlet with Ophelia. The author calls them “explosive outbursts,” so it is obvious that Hamlet’s reactions to Ophelia’s words and actions are rather morbid and unjustified. The only reason plausible enough could be his fixation on one woman, and Hamlet should feel shame because of his perverted attraction to his mother. Hamlet’s behavioral pattern fits these assumptions perfectly. Modern psychologists would call such a state of mind fixation on the mother or the Oedipus complex as Jones fairly states in the article.
Hamlet has problems, which is clear. Considering the combination of the behavioral pattern and the mental states recognized today as psychological issues, Hamlet has the Oedipus complex. It is not needed to be a trained professional in the area of psychology to connect the dots and admit it. It would be interesting to read the play again, having this new knowledge in mind, and assess Hamlet’s actions in the light of his mental condition.
Summing, the paper presented my response regarding the article by Ernest Jones “The Psychoanalytic Hamlet” and explained how and why I responded as I did. To reason my response, I used the examples provided by Jones and explained how they aligned with my opinion regarding the psychological state of Hamlet. For me, it is clear that Hamlet, as he is depicted in the play, has serious mental issues affecting his decisions and actions. There are no doubts that such a person would require the help of a professional psychologist who would help him to overcome his morbid connection with his mother. It is also obvious that his misogyny is based on the perverted love to his mother, which he is ashamed of, rather than on contempt towards all women.