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  90


it is replete with a hundred reasons--with reasons that are as
light as soap-bubbles, but which through self-deception appear
to us as highly respectable and compelling motives, because
they are hugely magnified in the mirror of our own feeling,"
he writes: "But this does not hold good, as Kohler and others
believe, when we are impelled by moral feelings of which
reason approves (for these we admit to ourselves, they need
no excuse), only for feelings that arise from our natural man,
those the gratification of which is opposed by our reason." It
only remains to add the obvious corollary that, as the herd
unquestioningly selects from the "natural" instincts the sexual
ones on which to lay its heaviest ban, so is it the various
psycho-sexual trends that most often are "repressed" by the
individual.  We have here an explanation of the clinical ex-
perience that the more intense and the more obscure is a given
case of deep mental conflict the more certainly will it be found,
on adequate analysis, to centre about a sexual problem.  On
the surface, of course, this does not appear so, for, by means
of various psychological defensive mechanisms, the depression,
doubt, and other manifestations of the conflict are transferred
on to more acceptable subjects, such as the problems of im-
mortality, future of the world, salvation of the soul, and so on.
      Bearing these considerations in mind, let us return to Hamlet.
It should now be evident that the conflict hypotheses above
mentioned, which see Hamlet's "natural" instinct for revenge
inhibited by an unconscious misgiving of a highly ethical kind,
are based on ignorance of what actually happens in real life,
for misgivings of this kind are in fact readily accessible to
introspection.  Hamlet's self-study would speedily have made
him conscious of any such ethical misgivings, and although he
might subsequently have ignored them, it would almost cer-
tainly have been by the aid of a process of rationalisation
which would have enabled him to deceive himself into believ-
ing that such misgivings were really ill founded; he would in
any case have remained conscious of the nature of them.  We
must therefore invert these hypotheses, and realise that the
positive striving for revenge was to him the moral and social
one, and that the suppressed negative striving against revenge
arose in some hidden source connected with his more personal,
"natural" instincts.  The former striving has already been
considered, and indeed is manifest in every speech in which
Hamlet debates the matter; the second is, from its nature,
more obscure and has next to be investigated.
      This is perhaps most easily done by inquiring more intently
into Hamlet's precise attitude towards the object of his ven-
geance, Claudius, and towards the crimes that have to be