Hamlet and Narcissus

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University of Delaware Press, 1995 - Literary Criticism - 246 pages
"Since Ernest Jones published Hamlet and Oedipus in 1949, psychoanalytic thinking has changed profoundly. This change, however, has not yet been adequately reflected in Shakespeare scholarship. In Hamlet and Narcissus, John Russell confronts the paradigm shift that has occurred in psychoanalysis and takes steps to formulate a critical instrument based on current psychoanalytic thinking. In his introduction, Russell clarifies Freud's assumptions concerning human motivation and development and then discusses, as representative of the new psychoanalytic paradigm, Margaret Mahler's theory of infant development and Heinz Kohut's theory of narcissism. Using these theories as his conceptual framework, Russell proceeds to analyze the action of Hamlet, focusing on the play's central problem, Hamlet's delay." "Previous psychoanalytic approaches to Hamlet have failed convincingly to explain the cause of Hamlet's delay because they failed to recognize the profound connection between Hamlet's pre-Oedipal attachment to his mother and his post-Oedipal allegiance to his father. By placing Hamlet's conflict with his parents in the new psychoanalytic framework of narcissism, Russell is able to show that Hamlet's post-Oedipal allegiance to his father and his pre-Oedipal attachment to his mother are driven by the same archaic and illusory needs. Though on the surface seeming to contradict one another, at bottom Hamlet's two attachments, to mother and to father, complement one another and work together to produce in Hamlet a conflicted ambivalence that propels him to his self-induced destruction. By clarifying the origin and effects of Hamlet's archaic narcissism, Russell is able to solve the problem of Hamlet's delay and forge a new and fruitful instrument of literary criticism."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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As a graduate student pursuing an English MA with a concentration in Shakespeare and Renaissance Studies, I find this book very insightful. There's endless material in libraries and academic journals on Hamlet and melancholy, but I've been very hard pressed to find sufficient publications on Hamlet and narcissism. Kudos to John Russell for covering the territory.  

Contents

Acknowledgments
9
From Pleasure to Power
13
Dust and Divinity Hamlets Fractured World
39
It Hath Made Me Mad The Failure of the Mother
51
Remember Me The Failure of the Father
83
The Failure of the Son Hamlets Delay
114
The Fall of a Sparrow Hamlets Fantasy of Death
146
The Way Out
173
Hamlets Delay The Arguments
183
Analogues and Act
205
Hamlets Transformation The Arguments
210
Notes
221
Bibliography
239
Index
243
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Page 78 - O that this too too solid flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew! Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd His canon 'gainst self-slaughter!
Page 58 - As if increase of appetite had grown By what it fed on; and yet, within a month, Let me not think on't: Frailty, thy name is woman! A little month, or ere those shoes were old With which she follow'd my poor father's body, Like Niobe, all tears...
Page 55 - Fie, fie upon her ! There's language in her eye, her cheek, her lip, Nay, her foot speaks ; her wanton spirits look out At every joint and motive of her body.
Page 156 - Alas, poor Yorick ! I knew him, Horatio : a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy : he hath borne me on his back a thousand times ; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is ! my gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now ? your gambols ? your songs ? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar...
Page 195 - Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell, Must like a whore unpack my heart with words, And fall a-cursing like a very drab, A scullion!
Page 100 - I'll wipe away all trivial fond records, All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past, That youth and observation copied there; And. thy commandment all alone shall live Within the book and volume of my brain, Unmix'd with baser matter: yes, by heaven.
Page 161 - Sir, in my heart there was a kind of fighting That would not let me sleep; methought I lay Worse than the mutines in the bilboes.
Page 76 - I have heard of your paintings too, well enough ; God hath given you one face and you make yourselves another: you jig, you amble, and you lisp, and nick-name God's creatures, and make your wantonness your ignorance.
Page 90 - gainst that season comes Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated, The bird of dawning singeth all night long : And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad ; The nights are wholesome ; then no planets strike, No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.
Page 194 - Who calls me villain, breaks my pate across, Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face, Tweaks me by the nose, gives me the lie i' the throat As deep as to the lungs?

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