From the evidence of these texts many listed in Laehr , , Hamlet becomes a neuropathological case. In terms of Naturalist and Darwinist thinking, obsessed with matters of race and milieu, the royal family of Denmark emerges as tainted and degenerate. Freud does not indulge in this kind of reductionist psychopathological character analysis.
On the other hand, his study of Hamlet falls into a period before when literature and psychiatric medicine find each other mutually congenial and fruitful. It is a further indication of the paradigmatic status of Hamlet as well as of Oedipus Rex that Freud assumes that his readers will be able to apply to general psychical phenomena insights drawn from the play. He formulates his ideas in a letter to his friend and colleague Wilhelm Fliess, on 15 October It is the famous letter that first sets out the notion of the Oedipus complex.
But could these ideas not also apply equally to Hamlet? We know nothing of the real Sophocles or of the insights he may have had into his own self. But for Shakespeare we do have the evidence of a life and of his most famous product.
Could Shakespeare not have come to terms with his own self-repression? Freud goes much further in The Interpretation of Dreams and , 2: In Hamlet, it is suppressed, in his hesitation to carry out the avenging act. Hamlet identifies his uncle Claudius with his father, whose death is the subject of a repressed childhood wish. Psychoanalysis can unlock the secrets of the text.
Brecht set out his views on Hamlet in a series of writings between the s and the s esp. They are partly informed by his desire to adapt the play for stage or radio production, partly by his wish to use it as a paradigm for aspects of his dramatic theory, and always for purposes of political persuasion. It is the application that is new. Where older interpretations stressed the role of Fortinbras as the figure who ties the play neatly up with his appearance, restores dynastic lines and gives order to the seeming chaos of events, Brecht sees him as merely perpetuating a feudal political system.
He no longer automatically acquiesces in traditional thinking. That is, until he meets Fortinbras himself 4. His newly-gained reason fails to save him. For this reason he reads into it a historical dynamic that points us beyond the text to our own times. The historical optimism once evinced by Brecht was beginning to wear decidedly thin in the last two decades of the German Democratic Republic.
The plot is first reduced to universals—political inaction, and suffering - then Hamlet and Ophelia become symbols, respectively, of the German revolution that failed, and the suffering produced by its suppression. Bate, Jonathan, ed. The Romantics on Shakespeare. London: Penguin Books, Blanckenburg, Friedrich von.
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NV Bradley, A. Shakespearean Tragedy. London: Macmillan, Brecht, Bert. Werner Hecht et al. Brown, F. Cohn, Albert. London: Asher, Ebert, Johann Arnold. Eschenburg, Johann Joachim. Neue Ausgabe. Fischer, Andreas. Fischer, Kuno.
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