Observant readers may notice that this title is much shorter and more humorous than the other essays in my presentation portfolio. Well, it wasn’t always that way. The original title of this essay was “Mommy Issues: Hamlet’s Mistreatment of Ophelia as a Result of his Narcissistic Attachment to Gertrude.” Ooph, that’s a mouthful. The last long bit was put in to compensate for the irreverent humor of “Mommy Issues,” but for it’s final presentation I decided to temporarily end my love affair with the colon and be more authentic to my sense of humor.
Alright, enough with the title, because really, what’s in a name anyways? This essay began as my first attempt to incorporate a methodology into my close-reading of Hamlet, and I feel that it is very successful. I take a psychoanalytic perspective and use Freud’s “Mourning and Melancholia” to understand the Hamlet’s intense and undeserved mistreatment of Ophelia. By using Freud’s framework of the subconscious, I discover and defend that Hamlet’s mistreatment of Ophelia has more to say about him than it does Ophelia, as it is the product of a severed narcissistic attachment to his mother Gertrude, broken upon her remarriage to Claudius. It is the unfair nature of Ophelia’s lot, which arises out of Hamlet’s inability to reconcile his mother’s perceived change, that lent itself to the title “Mommy Issues,” but don’t be fooled by the humor. This essay serves to transform Hamlet’s mistreatment of Ophelia from a cruel, but superfluous aspect of the plot into a quintessential interaction that reveals a quantifiable symptom of Hamlet’s mental pathology.