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  113


is as though Shakspere had read the previous story and
realised that had he been placed in a similar situation he would
not have found the path of action so obvious as was supposed,
but on the contrary would have been torn in a conflict which
was all the more intense for the fact that he could not explain
its nature.  In this transformation Shakspere exactly reversed
the plot of the tragedy, for, whereas in the saga this consisted
in the overcoming external difficulties and dangers by a
single-hearted hero, in the play these are removed and the plot
lies in the fateful unrolling of the consequences that result from
an internal conflict in the hero's soul.  From the struggles of
the hero issue dangers which at first did not exist, but which,
as the effect of his untoward essays, loom increasingly porten-
tous until at the end they close and involve him in final
destruction.  More than this, every action he so reluctantly
engages in for the fulfilment of his obvious task seems half-
wittingly to be disposed in such a way as to provoke destiny,
in that, by arousing suspicion and hostility in his enemy,
it defeats its own object and helps to encompass his own ruin.
The conflict in his soul is to him insoluble, and the only steps
he can make are those that inexorably draw him nearer and
nearer to his doom.  In him, as in every victim of a powerful
unconscious conflict, the Will to Death is fundamentally
stronger than the Will to Life, and his struggle is at heart one
long despairing fight against suicide, the least intolerable
solution of the problem.  Being unable to free himself from
the ascendency of his past he can travel--to Death.  In thus vividly
exhibiting the desperate but unavailing struggle of a strong
man against Fate, Shakspere achieved the very essence of the
Greek conception of tragedy.
      There is therefore reason to believe that the new life which
Shakspere poured into the old tragedy was the outcome of
inspirations that took their origin in the deepest and most
hidden parts of his mind.  He responded to the peculiar
appeal of the story by projecting into it his profoundest
thoughts in a way that has ever since wrung wonder from all
who have heard or read the tragedy.  It is only fitting that
the greatest work of the world-poet should have been con-
cerned with the deepest problem and the intensest conflict that
has occupied the mind of man since the beginning of time, the
revolt of youth and of the impulse to love against the restraints
imposed by the jealous eld.