Hamlet’s Two Fathers


in Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 154, 2007 Lectures

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780197264355
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734052 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Hamlet’s Two Fathers

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  • Social and Cultural History


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This lecture presents the text of the speech about Hamlet's two fathers delivered by the author at the 2007 Shakespeare Lecture held at the British Academy. It re-examines the psychoanalytical explanation proposed by Sigmund Freud and his disciple Ernest Jones in Hamlet and Oedipus for Hamlet's famous delay in revenging the death of his royal father by killing Claudius. The lecture argues that the Freud–Jones thesis is deeply flawed in its analytical explanation of the cause of delay and that the oedipal and preoedipal nature of Hamlet's dilemma is indeed a key to understanding the cause of the delay.

Keywords: Hamlet; fathers; Sigmund Freud; Ernest Jones; Claudius; Shakespeare Lecture; British Academy

Chapter.  11126 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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