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  93


Hamlet will be recognised as a wonderfully accurate picture
of a particular mental state that is often loosely and incorrectly
classified under the name of "neurasthenia."1  Analysis of
such states always reveals the operative activity of some for-
gotten group of mental processes, which on account of their
inacceptable nature have been "repressed" from the subject's
conscious memory.  Therefore, if Hamlet has been plunged into
this abnormal state by the news of his mother's second mar-
riage it must be because the news has awakened into activity
some slumbering memory, which is so painful that it may not
become conscious.
      For some deep-seated reason, which is to him inacceptable,
Hamlet is plunged into anguish at the thought of his father
being replaced in his mother's affection by some one else.  It
is as though his devotion to his mother had made him so
jealous for her affection that he had found it hard enough to
share this even with his father, and could not endure to share
it with still another man.  Against this thought, suggestive as
it is, may be urged three objections.  First, if it were in itself
a full statement of the case, Hamlet would easily have become
aware of the jealousy, whereas we have concluded that the
mental process we are seeking is hidden from him; secondly,
we see in it no evidence of the arousing of old and forgotten
memory; and thirdly, Hamlet is being deprived by Claudius
of no greater share of the Queen's affection than he had been
by his own father, for the two brothers made exactly similar
claims in this respect, namely those of a loved husband.  The
last-named objection, however, has led us to the heart of the
situation.  How if, in fact, Hamlet had in years gone by bit-
terly resented having to share his mother's affection even with
his father, had regarded him as a rival, and had secretly wished
him out of the way so that he might enjoy undisputed the
monopoly of that affection?  If such thoughts had been pres-
ent to him in his child days they evidently would have been
gradually suppressed, and all traces of them obliterated, by
filial piety and other educative influences.  The actual realisa-
tion of his early wish in the death of his father would then
have stimulated into activity these suppressed memories, which
would have produced, in the form of depression and other
suffering, an obscure aftermath of his childhood's conflict.
      I am aware that to those Shaksperian critics, who have en-
joyed no special opportunities for penetrating into the obscurer
sides of mental activities, and who base their views of human
motive on the surface valuation given by the agents them-

      1Hamlet's state of mind more accurately corresponds, as Freud has
pointed out, with that characteristic of a certain form of hysteria.