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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."
 
 
 
tempestsarekind: books and flowerstempestsarekind on March 25th, 2010 10:37 pm (UTC)
Re: View of women
Oh, I agree--he's trying to shame Gertrude there. I just think it's telling that he attempts to do it by saying, basically, "you're old, you're not supposed to have passionate feelings."