Jones, Ernest. "The Oedipus-Complex as An Explanation of Hamlet's
Mystery: A Study in Motive." The American Journal of Psychology 21.1 (January, 1910): 72-113.
PAGE  112

JONES

(or Fengo, as he is here called) had murdered his brother in
public, so that the deed was generally known, and further had
with lies and false witnesses sought to justify it in that he pre-
tended it was done to save the Queen from the threats of her
husband.1  This view he successfully imposed on the nation so
that, as Belleforest2 has it, "his sin found excuse among the
people and was considered justice by the nobility--so that
instead of prosecuting him as one guilty of parricide3 and
incest, all of the courtiers applauded him and flattered
him on his good fortune." When Shakspere altered this to
a secret murder known only to Hamlet it would seem as though
it was done, consciously or unconsciously, to minimise the ex-
ternal difficulties of Hamlet's task, for it is obviously harder to
rouse a nation to condemn a crime that has been openly ex-
plained and universally forgiven than one which has been
guiltily concealed.  If Shakspere had retained the original plot
in this respect there would have been more excuse for the
Klein-Werder hypothesis, though it is to be observed that even
in the saga Hamlet unhesitatingly executed his task, herculean
as it was.  Shakspere's rendering makes still more conspicuous
Hamlet's recalcitrancy, in that it disposes of the only justifiable
plea for non-action.
      The second and all-important respect in which Shakspere
changed the story, and thus revolutionised the tragedy, is the
vacillation and hesitancy he introduced into Hamlet's attitude
towards his task, with the consequent paralysis of his action.
In all the previous versions Hamlet was throughout a man of
rapid decision and action, not--as with Shakspere's version--
in everything except in the task of vengeance.  He had, as
Shakspere's Hamlet felt he should have, swept to his revenge
unimpeded by any doubts or scruples, and had never flinched
from the straightforward path of duty.  With him duty and nat-
ural inclination went hand in hand; from his heart he wanted to
do that which he believed he ought to do, and was thus har-
moniously impelled by both the summons of his conscience
and the cry of his blood.  There was none of the deep-reach-
ing conflict that was so disastrous to Shakspere's Hamlet.  It


      1Those who are acquainted with Freud's work will have no difficulty
in discerning the sadistic origin of this pretext. (See Sammlung klei-
ner Schriften, Zweite Folge, 1909, S. 169.) The interpretation of an
overheard coitus as an act of violence offered to the mother is fre-
quently an aggravating cause of hostility towards the father.
      2Quoted after Loening, Op. cit., S. 248.
      3This should of course be fratricide, though the word parricide was
occasionally used in old French to denote a murder of any elder rel-
ative. It is conceivable that the mistake is a "Verschreiben," un-
consciously motived in Freud's sense. (See Psychopathologie des
Alltagslebens, 1907, Cap. VI.)