Hamlet's Delay in Relation to the Abuse He Suffered
In recent times, a psychoanalytical approach has been taken to explain a person's behavior. Freud argued quite heavily that people have a subconscious drive that determines many of their actions. Hamlet does not differ from this. A psychoanalytical approach will find a reasonable explanation of Hamlet's actions in Shakespeare's Hamlet. His actions are characteristic of one who has been abused. Hamlet's Oedipus complex is more pronounced because of it. Other factors indicate abuse. Ultimately, his delay is due to the abuse as well. It is important to understand that he was abused as a child, which is reflected, first, in ...view middle of the document...
HAMLET: That's a fair thought to lie between a maid's legs. (3.2. 101-106)
One does not have to be a genius in order to understand that Hamlet is referring to sex. No where in the play does he taken any action to initiate a relationship of sexual orientation with Ophelia. Instead, like the previous statement, he is playing with her and the notion of sex. According to Steven Bavolek, Ph. D., abuse can cause sexual tension which "may be diverted into games involving teasing, mock spanking, and wrestling" (106). Hamlet's teasing reflects the possible abuse of Hamlet as a child. Doctor Joseph Tobin, M.D., said that the Oedipus complex can be disturbed and/or modified if a child has suffered abuse. The Oedipal complex does include his mother as well as Ophelia.
Hamlet's relationship with his mother is also odd. Tobin suggests that abuse can modify the Oedipal complex and delay it. He argues that if a child is abused during a period of time when the Oedipus complex should be undergoing resolution, it can be postponed. Both points are important. The delay means that the love affair with the mother is later and sexual maturity is closer. The modification can be a more pronounced love affair. Hamlet displays this in the play as well. His conversation with Ophelia is proceeded by the queen (his mother) asking him to sit down by her. Hamlet replies, "No mother, here's metal more attractive [Ophelia]" (3.2. 98). He is trying to produce a jealous reaction in his mother. This shows the strong Oedipal complex. However, it was abuse Hamlet endured from the queen that strengthened it. Bavolek said that a trait common to abusive parents is that of needing the child only to bolster self image or to satisfy their own needs (143). The king mentions this when he says, "The Queen his mother lives almost by his looks" (4.3. 11-12). Through Hamlet, she satisfies herself, possibly sexually and mentally, and has done so all his life, as abusive mothers often do (Bavolek 134). In the modification of the Oedipal complex, it is quite possible that Gertrude slept in the same bed as Hamlet after his father's death. Each seeking comfort in the other while morning the death of Hamlet, Sr. This, according to Bavolek, is potentially harmful in that the mother may deny any erotic stimulation, but the child may be stimulated, prolonging sensual dependency on the mother (Bavolek 106).
The abuse of Hamlet does not contribute only to his Oedipal complex. It does explain why his Oedipal complex is strong and explain some behaviors, but there are other factors which abuse has influenced. In fact, Hamlet probably does have some sort of disorder. Literary critics have accused Hamlet of being insane. However, he even says that he may behave differently when after her meets the ghost,
Here as before, never, so help you mercy,
How strange or odd some'er I bear myself. . .
That you, at such times, seeing me, never, shall
With arms encumbered thus, or this...