The Oedipus complex

The Oedipus complex is a theme in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It is particularly relevant if you want to do a psychological reading of the play.

Definition of the Oedipus complex

The term “Oedipus complex” was introduced in 1910 by Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. It states that children sexually desire their opposite-sex parent between about the ages of three and five. The parent of the same sex is then necessarily perceived as a rival. In the worst case, feelings toward him or her increase to hatred.

According to Freud, the Oedipus complex is eventually resolved by fear of punishment from the same-sex parent. From about the age of five, children become so afraid of being opposed by their rival that they repress their sexual desires and eventually even idealize their same-sex parent as a role model.

The term “Oedipus complex” is mostly used to describe the relationsh...

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