Porterfield, Sally F. "Oh Dad, Poor
Dad: The Universal Disappointment of Imperfect Parents in Hamlet."
Jung's Advice to the Players: A Jungian Reading of Shakespeare's
Problem Plays. Drama and Theatre Studies 57. Westport: Greenwood
P, 1994. 72-98.
HAMLET / JUNGIAN / PARENTHOOD / PSYCHOANALYTIC
This essay presents a Jungian reading of Hamlet's "universal
experience of parental discovery" (74). The death of the "good
father" and the remarriage that transforms the "good mother"
into a sexual being force "the ideal, archetypal parents of
imagination to die a violent death" (75). Hamlet copes with
the psychological upheaval by regressing "to an earlier stage
of his development": he becomes the "trickster" (75).
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern represent "another manifestation
of the trickster" (76); hence, the pair must die to mark Hamlet's
"integration of the trickster figure" (77) and his ability
to leave childhood behind (94). The Gravediggers also appear as
the trickster figure to show that "he is not within Hamlet"
and that "he has been integrated" (94). In this scene,
Laertes functions as the "shadow" and Ophelia as the "rejected
anima"; Hamlet "becomes one with both" when he leaps
into the grave (94). Horatio is the "self" for Hamlet,
"the ideal man he would become" (88), and Fortinbras offers
another form of the "self," "the man of action"
(97); "these two symbols of the self" merge in the final
scene (96-97). But Hamlet's progression towards integration proves
difficult, alternating between depression and mania. Only the presence
of art (symbolized by the players) causes Hamlet to be "taken
out of himself by interest in the world around him," demonstrating
his "dependence upon art as salvation" (86). Hamlet's
use of The Mousetrap drama suggests a hope "not simply
to kill but to redeem" Claudius and "to rediscover the
goodness he seeks so desperately in those around him" (87).
Ultimately, Hamlet cannot avoid violence, "but he gives us
courage, generation after generation, to attempt the ideal while
existing with the sometimes nearly unbearable realities that life
Russell, John. Hamlet and Narcissus.
Newark: U of Delaware P, 1995.
HAMLET / PARENTHOOD / PSYCHOANALYTIC
In the introduction, this monograph presents comprehensive descriptions
of Freud’s psychoanalytic premises (e.g., Oedipus Complex, Pleasure
Principle), of Margaret Mahler’s advancements in the study of
infant development, and of Heinz Kohut’s explorations of the
self and its development. The primary arguments are that distinctions
seperate the Freudian and psychoanalytic projects, that “the
conflicts that inform and structure Shakespearean tragedy are precisely
those elucidated by contemporary psychoanalysis” (16), and that
Hamlet’s “commitment finally is not to reality but to
the distortions of narcissistic fantasy” (23). After this laying
of groundwork, the first chapter focuses “on the distortions
in Hamlet’s behavior that are the result of that most characteristic
pre-Oedipal strategy of defense, splitting”; the next chapter
examines Hamlet’s mother/son relationship with Gertrude; chapter
three draws on Kohut’s understanding of the Oedipal period in
order to explore the Prince’s father/son relationship with the
Ghost/Hamlet, Sr.; chapter four explains “the puzzling and controversial
delay” in Hamlet; and the final chapter treats Hamlet’s
“surrender to one of the deepest and most powerful of narcissistic
fantasies, the fantasy of death” (38). Similar to psychoanalysis,
“the great theme of Shakespearean tragedy is the death of fathers
and the complex of narcissistic conflicts that congregate around the
passage of authority from one generation to the next” (180-81).
Watterson, William Collins.
Hamlets Lost Father. Hamlet Studies 16 (1994):
HAMLET / PARENTHOOD / PSYCHOANALYTIC / YORICK
This article asserts that Yoricks abstract presence and Hamlets
memories of the court jester constitute a benign inscription of
paternity in the play, one which actively challenges the masculine ideals
of emotional repression and military virtus otherwise featured
so prominently in Shakespeares drama of revenge (10). Unlike
the other father figures in Hamlet who represent patriarchal
authority (e.g., the Ghost, Claudius, Polonius), Yorick is the absent
surrogate parent who showed a young Hamlet alternatives to phallocentric
oppression and who remains a central figure in Hamlets psyche
precisely because he has been lost (11). By prematurely dying
(possibly due to syphilis), Yorick abandoned a seven-year-old Hamlet
in the pre-genital stage; hence, Hamlet identifies him as the cause
of his sexual deficiency and associates him permanently with his
own anality (18). Yet Yorick also endowed Hamlet with the skills
of jesting and merrymaking, which are so evident in the exchange between
Hamlet and the gravediggers. All play is set aside during Hamlets
interaction with Yoricks skull, as the residual child in
Hamlet articulates the pain of loss over his childhood mentor
(16). Perhaps the mournful sentiments were shared by Shakespeare, who
lost his father around the time that Hamlet was being written
(17). While Yorick contradicts paternal cliches, he also raises questions
regarding maternal stereotypes and the femininity of death. Even the
origin of Yoricks name suggests an obscure conflation of
gender, [which] actually encodes the idea of feminine fatherhood
(18). Ultimately, Yorick instills in Hamlet values and emotions
fundamentally at odds with the patriarchal codes of masculine behavior
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