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  98


gestions offered above in connection with the Hamlet problem.1
The story thus interpreted would run somewhat as follows:
As a child Hamlet had experienced the warmest affection for
his mother, and this, as is always the case, had contained ele-
ments of a more or less dimly defined erotic quality.  The
presence of two traits in the Queen's character go to corrobo-
rate this assumption, namely her markedly sensual nature,
and her passionate fondness for her son.  The former is in-
dicated in too many places in the play to need specific refer-
ence, and is generally recognised.  The latter is equally mani-
fest; as Claudius says (Act IV, Sc. 7, l. 11), "The Queen his
mother lives almost by his looks." Hamlet seems, however,
to have with more or less success weaned himself from her,
and to have fallen in love with Ophelia.  The precise nature
of his original feeling for Ophelia is a little obscure.  We may
assume that at least in part it was composed of a normal love
for a prospective bride, but there are indications that even
here the influence of the old attraction for his mother is still
exerting itself.  Although some writers, following Goethe,2
see in Ophelia many traits of resemblance to the Queen,
surely more striking are the traits contrasting with those of
the Queen.  Whatever truth there may be in the many Ger-
man conceptions of Ophelia as a sensual wanton3--misconcep-
tions that have been adequately disproved by Loening4 and
others--still the very fact that it needed what Goethe happily
called the "innocence of insanity" to reveal the presence of
any such libidinous thoughts in itself demonstrates the mod-
esty and chasteness of her habitual demeanour.  Her naïve
piety, her obedient resignation and her unreflecting simplicity
sharply contrast with the Queen's character, and seems to indi-
cate that Hamlet by a characteristic reaction towards the
opposite extreme had unknowingly been impelled to choose a
woman who would least remind him of his mother.  A case might

      1Here, as throughout the essay, I closely follow Freud's inter-
pretation given in the footnote previously referred to. He there
points out the inadequacy of the earlier explanations, deals with
Hamlet's feelings toward his mother, father and uncle, and mentions
two other matters that will presently be discussed, the significance of
Hamlet's reaction against Ophelia and of the fact that the play was
written immediately after the death of Shakespeare's father.
      2Goethe: Wilhelm Meister, IV, 14. "Her whole being hovers in
ripe, sweet voluptuousness." "Her fancy is moved, her quiet modesty
breathes loving desire, and should the gentle Goddess Opportunity
shake the tree the fruit would at once fall."
      3Storffrich: Psychologische Aufschüsse über Shakespeare's Ham-
let, 1859, S. 131; Dietrich, Op. cit., S. 129; Tieck: Dramaturgische
Blätter, II, S. 85, etc.
      4Loening: Op. cit., Cap. XIII. Charakter und Liebe Ophelias.