Hamlet and the Oedipus complex

The definition of the Oedipus complex

We will now analyze the main character in William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” taking into account the concept of the Oedipus Complex.

The term "Oedipus complex" was introduced in 1910 by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. It states that children sexually desire their opposite-sex parent between about the ages of three and five. The parent of the same sex is then necessarily perceived as a rival; in the worst case, feelings toward him or her increase to hatred.

According to Freud, the Oedipus complex is eventually resolved by fear of punishment from the same-sex parent. From about the age of five, children become so afraid of being opposed by their perceived rival that they repress their sexual desires and eventually even idealize their same-sex parent as a role model.

Theoretically, the concept of the Oedipus complex is applicable to both boys and girls, but in practice it is preferably used to describe the relationship between boys and their mothers. This may be due to the fact that the term can be traced back to a model in Greek mythology: To the son of the King of Thebes, Oedipus.

The story of Oedipus

Oedipus is a figure of Greek mythology. He is a son of Laios, the king of Thebes, and Iocaste. He is cast out of his father's royal court when he is still a young boy, because his father has learned from the Delphic Oracle that he will be killed by his own son.

When Oedipus has grown into a young man, he in turn asks the Delphic Oracle about his origins. He receives no direct answer, ...

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