Psychoanalytic Critique

This essay looks at Hamlet using the methodology outlined by Sigmund Freud in “Mourning and Melancholia,” with the end goal of explaining why Hamlet and Laertes both act the way they do in response to loss. After discussing Freud’s methodology, I discuss how Hamlet’s actions are more emblematic of melancholia, in which his mourning shifts from an outward focus into an inward one, resulting in a professed desire to die while the inner self prevents it as a result of narcissism. Laertes, on the other hand, directs his mourning towards others, which clearly shows he is not suffering from melancholia. He responds with hostility towards Hamlet and even hatches a scheme to kill him. Ultimately, I use the comparison to discuss the necessity of understanding the difference between mourning and melancholia. Enjoy!

Melancholy, Mourning, and Rage in Hamlet