THE OEDIPUS-COMPLEX AS AN EXPLANATION OF
HAMLET'S MYSTERY: A STUDY IN MOTIVE
By ERNEST JONES, M. D. (London), University of Toronto
English-speaking psychologists have as yet paid relatively
little attention to the study of genius and of artistic creative-
ness, at least so far as the method of analysing in detail the
life-history of individual men of genius is concerned. In
Germany, stimulated by Moebius' example, many workers
have obtained valuable results by following this biographical
line of investigation. Within the past few years this study
has been infused with fresh interest by the luminous writings
of Professor Freud, who has laid bare some of the fundamental
mechanisms by which artistic and poetic creativeness proceeds.1
He has shewn that the main characteristics of these mechan-
isms are common to many apparently dissimiliar mental pro-
cesses, such as dreams, wit, psycho-neurotic smptoms, etc.2
and further that all these processes bear an intimate relation to
fantasy, to the realisation of non-conscious wishes, to psycho-
logical "repression" (Verdrängüng), to the re-awakening of
childhood memories, and to psycho-sexual life of the sub-
ject. His analysis of Jensen's novel Gradiva will serve as a
model to all future studies of the kind.
It is generally recognised that although great writers and
poets have frequently made the most penetrating generalisations
in practical psychology, the world has always been slow to
profit by their discoveries. Of the various reasons for this fact
one may here be mentioned, for it is cognate to the present
argument. It is that the artist is often not distinctly aware of
the real meaning of what he is seeking to express, and is never
aware of its source. The difficulty experienced by the artist
in arriving at the precise meaning of the creation to which he
is labouring to give birth has been brilliantly demonstrated by
Bernard Shaw3 in the case of Ibsen and Wagner. The artist
1Freud: Der Wahn und die Träme in W. Jensen's Gradiva, 1907.
Der Dichter und das Phantasieren. Neue Revue, 1908. No. 10, S. 716.
2Freud: Traumdeutung, 1900. Der Witz und seine Beziehung zum
Unbewussten, 1905. Drei Abhandlungen zur Sexualtheorie, 1905.
Sammlung kleiner Schriften zur Neurosenlehre, 1906. Zweite Folge,
3Bernard Shaw: The Quintessence of Ibsenism, 1891. The Perfect
Wagnerite, 2nd ed., 1901.