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  102


thwart the happiness of the young, and not in the over-drawn
and melodramatic portrait in which he delineates his father:
"A combination and a form indeed, where every god did seem
to set his seal to give the world assurance of a man."
      In this discussion of the motives that move or restrain
Hamlet we have purposely depreciated the subsidiary ones,
which also play a part, so as to bring out in greater relief the
deeper and effective ones that are of preponderating impor-
tance.  These, as we have seen, spring from sources of which
Hamlet is unaware, and we might summarise the internal
conflict of which he is victim as consisting in a struggle of
the "repressed" mental processses to become conscious.  The
call of duty, which automatically arouses to activity these
unconscious processes, conflicts with the necessity for "re-
pressing" then still further; for the more urgent is the need
for external action the greater is the effort demanded of the
"repressing" forces.  Action is paralysed at its very incep-
tion, and there is thus produced the picture of causeless inhi-
bition which is so inexplicable both to Hamlet1 and to readers
of the play.  This paralysis arises, however, not from physical
or moral cowardice, but from that intellectual cowardice, that
reluctance to dare the exploration of his inner mind, which
Hamlet shares with the rest of the human race.
      We have finally to return to the subject with which we
started, namely poetic creation, and in this connection to en-
quire into the relation of Hamlet's conflict to the inner work-
ings of Shakspere's mind.  It is here maintained that this
conflict is an echo of a similar one in Shakspere himself,2 as
to a greater or less extent it is in all men.  It is, therefore, as
much beside the point to enquire into Shakspere's conscious
intention, moral or otherwise, in the play as it is in the case
of most works of genius.  The play is the form in which his

      1The situation is perfectly depicted by Hamlet in his cry (Act IV,
Sc. 4):

                                     "I do not know
Why yet I live to say 'This thing's to do,'
Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means,
To do't."
With greater insight he could have replaced the word "will" by
"pious wish," which, as Loening (Op. cit., S. 246) points out, it
obviously means. Curiously enough, Rolfe (Op. cit., p. 23) quotes
this very passage in support of Werder's hypothesis that Hamlet was
inhibited by the external difficulties of the situation.
      2The view that Shakspere depicted in Hamlet his own inner self
is a wide-spread one. See especially Döring, Shakespeare's Hamlet
seinem Grundgedanken und Inhalte nach erläutert, 1865; Hermann,
Ergänzungen und Berichtigungen der hergebrachten Shakespeare-
Biographie, 1884; Taine, Histoire de la litérature anglaise; Vischer,
Altes und Neues, 1882, Ht. 3.