Hamlet's Love for His Mother Hamlet is seen as one of the most complex literary character of all time. The relationship between Hamlet and Gertrude can be interpreted in many ways. Hamlet's motivation for killing Claudius is not to avenge his father's death, but because of his love for his mother Gertrude. This is where the Oedipus complex comes into play in Hamlet by William Shakespeare. The Oedipus complex refers to the thoughts some men have regarding their mother or maternal figures. Many scenes from the play can prove Hamlet did have these thoughts about his mother, such as acts one and three.
If the reader knows what he or she is looking for, then these signs can be easily spotted. The story of Oedipus Rex is an ancient myth of a sick and diseased land, which can only be saved by the death of the hero. Hamlet's situation seems to fit this description well. Harold Fisch feels that the sickness in the state of Denmark has takes over inside Hamlet, (173 - 174). As in the story of Oedipus Rex Hamlet must die so that eventually health and fertility will be restored in Denmark. Denmark is in a state of disgust and corruption.
When hamlet and Claudius are killed, no longer will there be corruption and incest, everything will be back to normal. Claudius' evil deeds and Hamlet's sick thoughts will be extinguished once for both of them are dead. Hamlet delays killing Claudius because he understands the feelings Claudius has for Gertrude. Hamlet knows why Claudius wants King Hamlet out of the way.
Hamlet knows this because he also wishes he could have Gertrude for himself. Hamlet tells Gertrude, "Good night, but go not to my uncle's bed" (IV. iii. 180). Hamlet does not want Gertrude sleeping in the same bed as Claudius, Hamlet wants her to realized that the king is an evil person.
Hamlet does not want her to associate with Claudius in any way. Ernest Jones feels that "If someone cannot bring himself to do something... it is because there is some hidden reason why a part of him does not want to do it... ." (52, 53). This seems to be the case in Hamlet. Hamlet constantly finds himself being jealous of Claudius.
Hamlet has held back much desire to take his father's place in his mother's affection, that is why Hamlet feels the need to get rid of Claudius. Claudius took this place; the place of hamlet had always longed to have, next to his mother. Ian Delaney feels that Hamlet's association with sexuality and his mother can no longer be concealed from his consciousness. (1) Hamlet's feelings can no longer be helped back. He wants to be with his mother.
Two of the Queen's character traits that cause Hamlet to have these feelings would be her sensual nature and her fondness so her son. Hamlet misinterpreted Gertrude's love for him as a sexual desire, instead of the maternal love that she has for him. Even though Hamlet felt what his mother was doing with Claudius as wrong, he still had considerable respect for her. Hamlet puts off avenging his father's death because of his severe Oedipus complex. Hamlet did not kill Claudius until his mother had already died. This is a sign that Hamlet did not want to hurt his mother because of the sexual feelings he had for her.
Hamlet felt that killing Claudius would hurt his mother too much, and he could not do that to her. Hamlet wants to save Gertrude form Claudius because of his feelings for her, his incest ual feelings, not maternal ones. Subconsciously the queen knows the effect she has on her son. Gertrude tries to play off that fact that's she knows about Hamlet's feeling several times in the play. Gertrude is very fond of her son and wants to protect him however she can.
This can be seen in the play, many times even up to when Gertrude is about to die. She tries to save Hamlet from drinking the poison himself. She also decided not to tell Claudius that Hamlet knows what Claudius has done. Hamlet claims to have a problem with women in general and he says that women cannot be trusted. Gertrude's adultery with Claudius has lead to Hamlet's distrust of women. Of all people he did not expect this behavior from his own mother.
Not only does she commit adultery; she also marries the killer of her husband. Hamlet's problem with women probably stemmed from his immoral thoughts about his mother. Hamlet has many things running through his head; his mind is cluttered by many evil thoughts. Hamlet acts towards Ophelia as though he does not care for her because in his mind he feels that he is not being faithful to his mother. Hamlet's attitude towards women is based on his mother's deception of King Hamlet. Hamlet feels that since his mother did this to his father, she cannot be trusted.
Hamlet's thoughts about his mother prevent Hamlet from discovering any other relationships with other women throughout his life. When Hamlet tries to get Gertrude to believe him that Claudius killed King Hamlet, she thinks that Hamlet has gone mad. He wants his mother to take this opportunity to save herself from Claudius while she still can. Gertrude refused to accept the fact that Claudius is the killer. Hamlet tries to save Gertrude because of his feeling towards her. E rks Uskalis feels that Hamlet is disgusted by the remarriage of his mother to Claudius.
Hamlet's disgust is a sign that Hamlet constantly feels jealous that Gertrude loves Claudius and not him. Hamlet is terrified by the thought that his mother could feel such desire for Claudius. The ghost of King Hamlet has described Claudius as .".. that incestuous, that adulterate beast" (I. v. 49).
Hamlet therefore delays in killing Claudius because this will emotionally hurt his mother. Hamlet deeply loves his mother and would not want to do anything to hurt her. Hamlet also cannot hurt his mother because it was his father's request that he does not hurt her. King Hamlet wants Hamlet to get revenge against Claudius for killing him, but he does not want Gertrude to get hurt while this is going on.
Hamlet's love for his mother was the primary force that drove his life. Everything he did in some way revolved around his love for his mother. His love was unconditional in many ways, and at times it also became sexual. These sexual thoughts that ran thought his mind took charge of his emotion and ultimately his life.
This Oedipus complex in the end was a tragedy in itself. As a result any person that got too close to his mother, like Claudius did, would make Hamlet become extremely jealous and make him get violent thought. It was the love for his mother that made him kill Claudius when she was alive. Hamlet knew that Claudius made her happy so deep down Hamlet knowing this was happy too.
Works CitedDeleany, Ian. "Hamlet and Oedipus" Short Course on Shakespeare's Hamlet Fisch, Harold, Hamlet and the Word, the Covenant Pattern in Shakespeare. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co. , 1971. Jones, Ernest. Hamlet and Oedipus.
New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc. , 1949 Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. New York: The Folger Shakespeare's Library, 1992.
Uskalis, Erik's. "Hamlet and Oedipus" Introduction to Hamlet.