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Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 154, 2007 Lectures$
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Ron Johnston

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264355

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264355.001.0001

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Hamlet’s Two Fathers

Hamlet’s Two Fathers


(p.153) Hamlet’s Two Fathers
Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 154, 2007 Lectures


British Academy

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

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