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21 March 2010 @ 07:56 pm
things rank and gross in nature  
I simply CANNOT STAND Freudian readings of Hamlet. I recognize that this is probably irrational of me, but I have absolutely no patience for them. I'll deal with them, if I must, in performance, but as critical takes or in the classroom? No, thank you. Which makes it really hard to read student papers or have classroom discussions, because I want to squash that take as so much nonsense, but of course I do not and cannot do such a thing--so I wind up trying to ignore it and pass over such comments in silence, or redirect them in some way.

It is all very frustrating. Especially because so often, I see it because it's just one of those things that "everybody knows" about Hamlet, along with the fact that he's totally irresolute and should just get on with it already. Because, you know, murder should be done with the same care and attention you'd give to putting together a grocery list.

I mean, if Hamlet genuinely thinks that his mother is committing incest--and historical signs seem to point to yes on that one, plus there's that little part where he actually calls it incestuous--then it doesn't seem particularly odd that he might be horrified by that. Plus his dad just died; he may or may not have the right to be appalled by how quickly his mother's remarried, but he doesn't have to want to sleep with her to be a little bit upset about the whole thing. And he doesn't seem to be at all worried about his mother's having been married to his father, you know? "Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed, / And batten on this moor?" suggests that he's fine with the concept of his parents' having had sex; it's still appetite in the first image, but it's not diseased appetite. The act isn't the issue; it's the difference between feeding and battening, between Hamlet senior and Claudius, between the "fair mountain" and the "moor." His problem isn't really that his mother is having sex; it's that she's having sex with someone who isn't his father (and specifically his uncle). I'm not saying that Hamlet is necessarily the most well-adjusted young man, and he certainly has some issues with Ophelia (though there, too, it's not *just* about women, but about the fact that everyone is doomed to be sinful--"Why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners?"). But there's more going on there than just "can't come to terms with his mother's sexuality" or "really wants to sleep with her himself." If anything, his biggest problem seems to be a fervent wish that he'd never been born, which comes up all the time: "O that this too too solid flesh"; "O cursed spite! That ever I was born to set it right"; "it were better that my mother had not borne me."
 
 
 
litlover12: BA2litlover12 on March 21st, 2010 11:59 pm (UTC)
Hear, hear.
tempestsarekind: peddlers of bombasttempestsarekind on March 22nd, 2010 12:00 am (UTC)
We should band together. :)
litlover12: BA2litlover12 on March 22nd, 2010 12:02 am (UTC)
Totally!

I mean, forsooth! :-)
(no subject) - tempestsarekind on March 22nd, 2010 12:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
the love song of j. aimee prufrocke: btvs | i beg your pardon?faeriemaiden on March 22nd, 2010 12:10 am (UTC)
I dislike Freudian readings of just about anything, excepting Freud. :P (Hey, Freud, ever considered that you were just insanely kinky and decided to project your issues on the entire human race to make yourself feel better? Not that I claim to know much about psychology.)
tempestsarekind: world in peril? have some teatempestsarekind on March 22nd, 2010 12:14 am (UTC)
Exactly! And the whole Oedipus complex is so weird: essentially, it must be true of humanity because it...was true of these two fictional characters. Sort of.

Did you see Kate Beaton's recent comic based on the Edward Gorey cover of Hamlet and Oedipus?
http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=247
I wanted to print it out and stick it up on my door, as a warning: "Do not come in here with your Oedipal Hamlet. Oh, and CAVE CANEM."
Neaneadods on March 22nd, 2010 12:22 am (UTC)
So totally not alone!
tempestsarekind: hamlet--though you can fret metempestsarekind on March 22nd, 2010 12:26 am (UTC)
Yay! I do wonder if it's more a pop culture thing--whether the Freudian take is actually something we've supposedly "moved past," but then it pops up all the time in people's offhand comments about the play. (Or in student papers, sigh.)
Neaneadods on March 22nd, 2010 12:47 am (UTC)
You'd think that Gertrude would react if her son started doing anything outright sexual to her.
Timeline - viomisehunt on March 22nd, 2010 01:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Timeline - neadods on March 22nd, 2010 01:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Timeline - viomisehunt on March 22nd, 2010 04:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Timeline - tempestsarekind on March 22nd, 2010 07:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Timeline - neadods on March 22nd, 2010 10:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Timeline - tempestsarekind on March 23rd, 2010 01:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Timeline - neadods on March 23rd, 2010 02:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Timeline - tempestsarekind on March 23rd, 2010 03:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Timeline - neadods on March 23rd, 2010 05:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Timeline - tempestsarekind on March 23rd, 2010 10:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Timeline - neadods on March 23rd, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Timeline - tempestsarekind on March 24th, 2010 01:53 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Timeline - tempestsarekind on March 22nd, 2010 07:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Constant Reader: DT - Berowneskirmish_of_wit on March 22nd, 2010 02:27 am (UTC)
I approve this message.
tempestsarekind: hamlet--though you can fret metempestsarekind on March 22nd, 2010 07:55 pm (UTC)
I am glad to hear it!
salieri: words by istarnietroyswann on March 22nd, 2010 03:08 am (UTC)
Word, sistah.

Also, Hamlet doesn't dither. He makes an oath, decided to put an antic disposition on, stages a play, contemplates suicide, examines his mother and gets thrown out of the country all before act 4! Heck, even when the audience is out eating ice cream and waiting in line for the loo he's fighting sea battles.

Jan Kott did not help the cause of Shakespearean criticism. And I used to have a lapel button that said "Avoid Freud" on it.
tempestsarekind: hamlet/horatio OTPtempestsarekind on March 22nd, 2010 07:58 pm (UTC)
Heck, even when the audience is out eating ice cream and waiting in line for the loo he's fighting sea battles.

Hee! I know, he's so busy--when does he have time to be monumentally indecisive?

Also, Jan Kott gives me hives. His writing on A Midsummer Night's Dream kind of makes me want to break out the tar and pitchforks.
viomisehuntviomisehunt on March 22nd, 2010 07:14 pm (UTC)
Gertrude was happy with her new husband. We have to wonder if Hamlet noticed for the first time that she had not been "happy" with his father?
tempestsarekind: all the world's a stagetempestsarekind on March 22nd, 2010 08:03 pm (UTC)
It's an interesting question. Textually Hamlet seems to think that they had a charmed marriage (in 1.2, at least: "why, she would hang on him, / As if increase of appetite had grown / By what it fed on"), which is why he's so surprised that she could transfer her affections to Claudius so quickly. But a lot depends on how one plays the Ghost: if he's this stern, remote, forbidding figure, then it's easier to imagine that Gertrude is happy with Claudius not just because she was happy with both men, but specifically because she was *not* happy with Hamlet senior.
viomisehuntviomisehunt on March 22nd, 2010 09:45 pm (UTC)
It really would depend on the age differnces; it could have gone either way. I think King John's wife was about 12 or 13; certainly a 14 or 15 year old 'woman' might form a dependence on her 25-30 year old spouse;then along comes the younger brother and she can have a good time. And Cladius certainly see to love Gertrude.
(no subject) - tempestsarekind on March 22nd, 2010 10:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - viomisehunt on March 22nd, 2010 10:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - tempestsarekind on March 23rd, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
View of women - viomisehunt on March 23rd, 2010 05:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: View of women - tempestsarekind on March 24th, 2010 01:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: View of women - viomisehunt on March 25th, 2010 04:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: View of women - tempestsarekind on March 25th, 2010 10:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)