Hamlet and Oedipus Essay

646 WordsMay 7, 20133 Pages
Ernest Jones: Hamlet and Oedipus From Hamlet and Oedipus (London: Victor Gollancz, Ltd., 1949; New York: W. W. Norton & Company, inc., 1949), pp. 5253, 5960, and 82. Copyright © 1949 by Ernest Jones. Reprinted by permission of the publishers. This study appeared in its original form in 1910. That Hamlet is suffering from an internal conflict the essential nature of which is inaccessible to his introspection is evidenced by the following considerations. Throughout the play we have the clearest picture of a man who sees his duty plain before him, but who shirks it at every opportunity and suffers in consequence the most intense remorse. To paraphrase Sir James Paget’s well known description of hysterical paralysis: Hamlet’s advocates say he cannot do his duty, his detractors say he will not, whereas the truth is that he cannot will. Further than this, the deficient willpower is localized to the question of killing his uncle; it is what may be termed a specific abulia. Now instances of such specific abulias in real life invariably prove, when analyzed, to be due to an unconscious repulsion against the act that cannot be performed (or else against something closely associated with the act, so that the idea of the act becomes also involved in the repulsion). In other words, whenever a person cannot bring himself to do something that every conscious consideration tells him he should do—and which he may have the strongest conscious desire to do—it is always because there is some hidden reason why a part of him doesn’t want to do it; this reason he will not own to himself and is only dimly if at all aware of. That is exactly the case with Hamlet. *** It only remains to add the obvious corollary that, as the herd unquestionably selects from the "natural" instincts the sexual one on which to lay its heaviest ban, so it is the various psychosexual trends that are

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