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Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis, used Shakespeare's character, Hamlet, in a letter written to Wilhelm Fliess in 1897, as a means to theoretically explain and engage in what he regarded as one of the deepest conflicts experienced by men.

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Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis, used Shakespeare's character, Hamlet, in a letter written to Wilhelm Fliess in 1897, as a means to theoretically explain and engage in what he regarded as one of the deepest conflicts experienced by men. In Freud's, Mourning and Melancholia and The Interpretation of Dreams, he draws on Shakespeare's tragedy, Hamlet and its melancholy "hero", Hamlet, in order to substantiate and provide a frame of reference for his theories of mourning, Oedipal desire, and the unconscious. Freud used psychoanalytical criticism as a way to interpret authors, and other artists' work, making connections between the authors themselves and what they actually create. Freud made use of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex in creating and substantiating his own theory of the Oedipus complex. Freud incorporated Sophocles' tragedy into his psychoanalytical theory of Oedipus complex, where a child has the unconscious desire for the exclusive love of the parent of the opposite sex, as is exemplified in the Greek myth. The desire includes jealousy towards the parent of the same sex and the unconscious wish for that parent's death. Freud described this stage as usually occurring between the ages of three to five years and as a normal developmental process of human psychological growth. However, Freud believed that Oedipus complex could stay in the unconscious mind and affect the person in adult life. Freud's use of Hamlet as a means of explaining his theory of Oedipal desire eventually replaced his theory of mourning, and resulted in a historic, "permanent linkage of Hamlet with Freud's theory of repression and the family romance"(Starks 161). Freud remade Oedipus Rex and Hamlet, partly in his own image and has influenced us with "Freud's Oedipus" and "Freud's Hamlet". (Shengold 16). Thus, in essence, Freud appropriated Shakespeare's Hamlet, as a means to strengthen psychoanalysis' theoretical ends, without realizing the significant impact this appropriation held in store for the viewers of filmic representations of Shakespeare's Hamlet in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. ...read more.


Celestino Coronado's adaptation of Hamlet (1948), provided a departure from the means by which Olivier filmically represented Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, and may be viewed as a celebration of symbolic and artistic portrayal of Shakespeare's text, through appropriation and presentation of visual elements, supported by the verbal, rather than the other way around. Coronado clearly relies far less on the emphasis and the necessity of the text than Olivier does. Coronado's Hamlet focuses on visceral appeal, symbolism and the expected interpretation of the viewer, rather than clearly delineating thematic trends for the viewer through the use of the spoken text. Coronado's film may be viewed as an "interactive", artistic representation of Hamlet's divided self and the fluctuations of feelings Hamlet is portrayed as experiencing through identical twins, David and Anthony Meyer, playing Hamlet. Interestingly, Coronado's Hamlet does not include the famous "To be or not to be" soliloquy within the film, other than a small section of the soliloquy used in the opening sequence of the film, perhaps stressing the director's point that although this text, verbally spoken through the medium of an actor playing Hamlet, in a dramatic performance, may form the pivotal core of Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, it is not necessarily essential within Coronado's visual, filmic representation and depiction of Hamlet in creating and encouraging the notions, philosophies and themes contained within this soliloquy for the viewer. Coronado captures and emphasises a unique mind/body distinction by highlighting actors' physical form through the use of nudity, posture and movement, as well as through various camera techniques and illusions, and creates a link with the psychological through especially the eyes and the visual representation of symbolism, visual references to Shakespeare's text and an overt orientation within the psychoanalytic tradition. Coronado emphasises the sexual, the psychological, the portentous presence of Oedipal desire and the unconscious, by consciously portraying imagery for the audience to interact with and interpret according to themes, which are suggested and nurtured by him. ...read more.


Hamlet functioning as signifiers and various other factors attributing to the way in which a film is interpreted and viewed by an audience. It becomes evident that with time and the change necessarily of context, that meanings attached to signifiers, specifically related to sexuality and sexual innuendo have remained fairly constant, regardless of whether they have gained a more overt and explicit portrayal. In fact, it may be argued that the imagination, stimulated by suggestive themes and signifiers, such as the use of eyes signifying hierarchy and power differentials, music and symbolism, created and filmically presented by directors, creates a far greater impact on the senses of viewers and their individual insights into the meanings attached to these signifiers, based on individual experience and knowledge of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Freud's footprints may wind endlessly throughout the filmic representations of Hamlet by the directors discussed, but Hamlet's psyche, unconscious and motivations for the actions he pursues, as well as those he does not, shall always remain the "property" and appropriation of William Shakespeare, a gift granted to the world of literature and drama, later to be appropriated and represented by the work of psychologists, psychiatrists, authors, artists, stage directors and film directors of the twentieth century and centuries to follow. REFERENCE LIST Kurzweil, E. & Phillips, W. Literature and Psychoanalysis. New York: Columbia University Press, 1983. 4, 36. McCary, W. Hamlet: A Guide to the Play. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1998. 135. Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. Philip Edwards. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Shengold, L. "Our Freud." Psychoanalytic Quarterly 62. (1993): 16. Starks, L.S. "The displaced body of desire: Sexuality in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet". Shakespeare and Appropriation. Eds. Desmet, C. & Sawyer, R. London: Routledge, 1999. 160-161, 164, 166, 169-170. Weller, P. "Freud's Footprints in Films of Hamlet". Literature Film Quarterly 25.2 (1997): 120. FILMOGRAPHY Hamlet. Dir Celestino Coronado. Dangerous Curves, 1973. Hamlet. Dir Laurence Olivier. Two Cities Films, 1948. The Crow. Dir Alex Proyas. Miramax Films, 1994. Hamlet. Dir Franco Zeffirelli. Warner Bros., 1991. 1 ...read more.

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