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Friedman, N. Jones, R.M. (1963). On the Mutuality of the Oedipus Complex Notes on the Hamlet Case. Am. Imago, 20(2):107-131.

(1963). American Imago, 20(2):107-131

On the Mutuality of the Oedipus Complex1 Notes on the Hamlet Case2

Neil Friedman and Richard M. Jones

1. Freud and Shakespeare

Perhaps Rilke needs to be supplemented by psychoanalysis. It is certain, on the other hand, that psychoanalytical formulations seem like a scrannel pipe of wretched straw when set beside Rilke.….(3)

That the poet anticipates the theorist is well seen in the relation of Shakespeare to Freud. A rare sensitivity to the misloyalties of sons and fathers made of Julius Caesar something more than a perceptive political drama. Macbeth comes from a hand as equipped to write with authority of unconscious designs as of conscious ones. King Henry's retort to his son who, thinking the old man dead, has taken his crown, “Thy wish was father, Henry, to that thought,” is as nice an example of making the unconscious conscious as will be found in many a therapeutic adventure. And of Hamlet, to say that its author's articulation of the paradoxes of familial loves was clinically precise is but to embarrass clinicians. If Freud adds meaning to Hamlet for some, Hamlet lends meaning to Freud for many.

But Shakespeare was not simply a pre-Freudian. The constant temptation of Psychological Man is to reinterpret alien geniuses as mere Freudian forerunners.

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