Psychoanalytic Critique

The end was in sight! We were halfway through writing, coasting towards the end of the semester and the tantalizing feel of summer. This fourth essay was the first attempt at analyzing Hamlet using a particular theory. The essay’s purpose was to use psychoanalysis to analyze a character’s behaviors. Psychoanalysis, or Psychoanalytic Critique, examines subconscious thoughts to explain characters’ behaviors. Psychoanalysis is rooted in Sigmund Freud’s theories, but has since expanded. (Side note: I bet we could use Freud’s own theories to analyze his strange obsession with sex).

Out of all the theories, psychoanalysis was the easiest for me to understand, enabling me to close read scenes from Hamlet in a more thorough and insightful way. What most interested me about “Mourning and Melancholia” was Sigmund Freud’s observation that melancholic patients lose their identity and self-confidence. I saw this a lot through the character of Hamlet, because time and time again, he criticizes himself for not being strong enough.

From this interest, I created a rough outline that summarizes Freud and provides a list of evidence for Hamlet’s lack of self-regard. The outline led to my first draft, which focused on Hamlet’s melancholia causing his indecisiveness.

The peer review helped me to provide an importance of the evidence in relation to the thesis. Using the feedback I received, I revised my first draft, adding a little bit more from “Mourning and Melancholia,” including the concept of narcissism in melancholic patients. Ultimately, this revision led to my second draft handed in for grading.

I soon received feedback from my professor. These comments urged me to look closer at the “to be or not to be” speech and reorganize the close reading and Freud summary. All this can be seen in my third draft, which I turned in for another round of feedback from my professor.

In the fourth draft of my essay, I once again put my Freud summary at the beginning. I think I switched it to the end in the third draft without realizing that my reorganization of the close reading caused the Freud summary to make more sense at the beginning. I also took a look at Janet Adelman’s “‘Man and Wife is One Flesh’: Hamlet and the Confrontation with the Maternal Body” to consider what exactly Hamlet’s loss is.

Psychoanalysis helped me to better understand Hamlet and his strange behaviors. He really is an odd character, and I think that is why so many people are fascinated by him; people are more curious about the strange than they are about the normal.

I picked this essay to be in my presentation portfolio because I understood psychoanalysis the best out of the three theories we focused on, making it easier to apply it to the play.