Psychoanalytic literary criticism, which was mainly developed from the works of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan, is still one of the key literary theories to study and understand any literary text. Traditionally there are some canonical literary texts that are favorites to the psychoanalytic critics like Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Here in my present paper I will try to make a psychoanalytic literary criticism of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. At first, I will try to define what is psychoanalytic literary criticism and then try to make a psychoanalytic reading of Hamlet applying the key ideas of psychoanalytic criticism.
What is Psychoanalytic literary criticism?
Psychoanalytic literary criticism can simply be defined as an approach to literature which aims to apply some of the techniques of psychoanalysis in the interpretation of literary works. The psychological principles which are used in Psychoanalytic literary criticism were mainly developed by Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan. Psychoanalytic criticism adopts the methods of "reading" employed by Freud and later theorists to interpret texts. It argues that literary texts, like dreams, express the secret unconscious desires and anxieties of the author, that a literary work is a manifestation of the author's own neuroses. One may psychoanalyze a particular character within a literary work, but it is usually assumed that all such characters are projections of the author's psyche.
The key concepts which are used in Psychoanalytic criticism include but not limited to unconscious, repression, sublimation, super-ego, id, Infantile sexuality, Oedipus complex, libido, oral, anal, and phallic, transference, projection, Freudian slip, dream work, displacement ,etc.