An Analysis Of A Jungian Lens In Shakespeare's Hamlet

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“This Above All: To Thine Own Self Be True”
A Look at Shakespeare’s Hamlet through a Jungian Lens

Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is the longest play he ever wrote and would take an estimated five hours to perform. Viewing Hamlet alongside Jungian Psychology adds an analysis that cannot be seen otherwise. Cowgil describes Jung’s work as therapy that deals with dreams and fantasies and death. The rising and land of the dead represent the unconscious self and the foreground for collective unconscious theory. This is an unconscious that “[could contain] all the dead, not just our personal ghosts” (Boerre 1). The contents of the collective unconscious are called archetypes and they contain many different levels: shadow, …show more content…

Shadow theory is the understanding and analyzation of characteristics that the subject is unaware of: weaknesses, repressed ideas, desires, instincts, and shortcomings. The side of a any given personality which is not consciously displayed in public may have positive or negative qualities, and this is the Shadow self. When the Shadow remains unconscious, it causes problems for the person that holds that Shadow and the people that interact with them. Baker believes, “The Shadow self also embodies many darker aspects of the main character’s personality as well as deeply repressed impulses that aren’t always conspicuous to the reader” (1). When reading Hamlet, readers may not pick up on Hamlet’s Shadow. Hamlet himself is unaware that he behaves instinctively as a killer and doesn’t realize that his actions are morally wrong, and the reader can easily take from this that Hamlet is truly in the right and that the actions he takes are justified due to his problematic relationships. Claudius tells Gertrude, “When sorrows come, they come not in single spies, but in battalions” to remind her that bad things normally happen in quick succession after long periods emotional rest (IV, v, 61-62). In Act 1, the Ghost says, “Murder most foul, as in the best it is. But this most foul, strange, and unnatural” when Hamlet is becoming gung-ho about murdering his father’s killer (who he does not yet know is Claudius). Hamlet is pushing the Ghost toward telling him about the murder so that he feels like he has the right to move forward with his plan of revenge. He does not see that as the beginning of his Shadow and lets his Shadow overcome him in the end. Jungian Psychology was the basis behind the song “Forty Six & 2” by the metal band Tool, and the lyrics can be applied to Hamlet as well. One of the lyrics is

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