In Shakespeare’s timeless tale of Hamlet, Hamlet is described as having very many problems. Could there be one definite problem that is the explanation for all of his others? Hamlet’s Oedipus Complex towards his mother linked with his profound feelings of melancholia are the direct roots of his other problems. What is the Oedipus complex and what is melancholia? To start, here is the definition of the Oedipus Complex.
The Oedipus Complex is the positive libidinal feelings of a child toward the parent of the opposite sex and hostile or jealous feelings toward the parent of the same sex that may be a source of adult personality disorder when unresolved. Hamlet exhibits these feelings towards his mother, Gertrude, in many ways throughout the story. In Hamlet’s first soliloquy (Hamlet I, 2, 133-164), he states his disgust at his mother for marrying Claudius, the new king, in no less than a month after his own father’s death. “We sense his genuine grief but are more painfully aware of his revulsion at his mother and loathing for Claudius” (Prosser 128). This is Hamlet’s first sign of jealousy towards his uncle, Claudius. Johann von Goethe explains this as Hamlet’s hopes fading away with his mother’s increasing love for Claudius. “He hoped in the company of his surviving noble-minded parent, to reverence the heroic form of the departed; but his mother too he loses, and it is something worse than death that robs him of her” (von Goethe 10). Hamlet hoped to take the place of his father and receive the passionate love of his mother by taking the place. This is a direct cause of Hamlet’s constant feelings of deep melancholia throughout the play. .
Melancholia is a mental condition characterized by extreme depression, bodily complaints, and often hallucinations and delusions. Now although Hamlet and his friends do see the ghost of his father at the beginning of the play, the third time the ghost appears, (Hamlet III, 4, 117-156) no one sees the ghost but Hamlet.