The Importance Of Corruption In Shakespeare's Hamlet

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“Good night: but go not to mine uncle’s bed — / Assume a virtue, if you have it not,” Hamlet warns the queen (3.4.159-60). More than the tragic effort of an emotionally waylaid son to break apart his mother’s incestuous relationship, this plea for sexual restraint, for the restoration of the queen’s honorable union with her late husband points to the complex oedipal conflict between Hamlet and his two “fathers.” Indeed, in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the title character’s unconscious desire for his mother’s asexual purity, unresolved oedipal conflict with his father, and ongoing, displaced oedipal conflicts with Claudius supersede the murder in driving his revenge plot against his uncle and mother. Hamlet’s resentment towards Gertrude …show more content…
(3.4.53-5, 63-5)
Once again, Old King Hamlet is the privileged term; Claudius is punished. Here, however, the likeness is overtly symbolized through the portraits, held side by side and contrasted in order to prove to Gertrude their differences, differences so subtle to her that Hamlet wonders, “Have you eyes?” (3.4.65). The old king, then, is privileged, not because Hamlet has absolved him of responsibility for Gertrude’s sexual corruption, but because the displacement of his oedipal frustrations onto Claudius has granted the old king a comparatively goodly status. Hamlet’s displaced oedipal conflict with his uncle later reaches its climaxand resolutionwith Claudius’s death in act five. Having discovered that it was Claudius who killed Gertrude, Hamlet stabs Claudius with Laertes’s poisoned sword, an ironically placed phallic symbol (CITATION?). Having been denied the chance at asserting his sexual and personal dominance over the old king for so long, Hamlet finally satisfies his unconsciously violent oedipal instincts by brutally killing Claudius with a weapon which symbolically reverses the power dynamic inherent in oedipal castration anxiety; Hamlet is now dominant, and Claudius is again