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Symons, N.J. (1928). The Graveyard Scene in Hamlet. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 9:96-119.

(1928). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 9:96-119

The Graveyard Scene in Hamlet

Norman J. Symons

About eighteen years ago Ernest Jones contributed an essay on Hamlet to the American Journal of Psychology. An enlarged version of this was published in German the year following and appeared again later as the opening chapter of the author's Essays in Applied Psycho-Analysis (1923). Readers of this chapter will remember that, confirming a suggestion first made by Freud, Jones traces Hamlet's inhibition to the Oedipus complex. Hamlet's vacillation has two main causes. Firstly, his repression of infantile Oedipus wishes necessarily arouses unconscious resistances against the thought of killing his stepfather; and secondly, in the deeper strata of his mind, he cannot, as a mere matter of self-consistency, bring himself to take action against the man whose crime coincides with his own unconscious wishes. The writer then goes on to show that Polonius is in several respects an unconscious substitute for Hamlet's 'bad' father, this being the real reason for his death at the hands of Hamlet. Laertes is also unconsciously

1 In discussing the identification of Polonius with Hamlet's father, Jones draws attention to the meddlesome character of the former, and suggests that he represents the father in his 'spying' or 'all-seeing' capacity. In support of this, it may be pointed out here that the play contains indications that Hamlet did actually regard his father in this light.

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