hamlet is not so much a play about familial loyality and kingship as it is one about disorderly sexuality. examine the accuracy to this assertion

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hamlet is not so much a play about familial relations and kingship than it is about sexual disorderly. discuss..

-- shazia suleman (zaira53@hotmail.com), April 03, 2001


Grief! I hope this was not given to you by a teacher. Disorderly sexuality? I suppose that Fortinbras had a thing for young Hamlet? Or that R&G were really after Ophelia? No, no, no. Lust, yes. Passion, yes. Fear and loss, certainly. Seems to me that Claudius had a thing for Gertrude (and the crown) for a while. He came up with a plan that got him what he wanted and went for it. Unfortunately, his plan includes murder. In the world of Shakespearean fiction, murderers are bad people whose deeds result in nothing good. Disorderly sexuality? It's a complex political thriller, not a bloody orgy.

-- mikken (mikken@neo.rr.com), April 05, 2001.

yeah, I'd have to agree there. Sorry to dissapoint, but 'tis not a porn novel. The sexuality in Hamlet isn't the major thing, that's missing the forest for the trees. Also, it's not exactly disorderly (I mean, Claudius and Gertrude were married---and Hamlet and Ophelia didn't go too far in the play at least. Also these type rumors about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern cannot be proven anyway, so why bother. ;-). What sexuality there is in the play is used along with the atmosphere to put across broader points about human nature in general.

-- evilfishy (evilfishy@mediaone.net), April 10, 2001.

Good point, evilfishy. Nothing about this play is "disorderly." In fact, there is so much symmetry and order as to be almost mathematic. The past affecting the present with mirror characters (Old/Young Fortinbras, Old/Young Hamlet) and the choices that they make is all very orderly.

-- mikken (mikken@neo.rr.com), April 14, 2001.

When I first saw this question I thought 'Deary, deary". And I still do, really. But if i may be difficult, "Perpend": Claudius' and Gertrude's sexuality may be seen as disorderly because the marriage is incestuous under Renaissance religious law. Also, Laertes' and Polonius' view is that Hamlet's sexual desire is disorderly, "unmastered", though he seems to prove it isn't, in the text if not in the Branagh version. See I.iii.5-51 and 98-134, and II.ii.101-167 and 182-190, and III.i.161-177. Polonius' theory is that Hamlet is actually MAD because his love and sexual desire is not gratified. Also, Ophelia's songs clearly show a level of sexuality in her which she suppressed while sane: this repression might be argued to be disorderly, especially given the manner of ultimate release, through insanity.

So of course this is not what the play is "so much" about, it is a subtext.

-- catherine england (catherine_england@hotmail.com), December 05, 2001.

I posted this same comment in the forum about the Oedipus Complex:

It seems to me that our culture is absolutely obsessed with sex. People are so eager to take anything in literature and analyze it so that it is revealed to have sexual implications. Throughout the play I can see no concrete evidence that Hamlet and Gertrude, or Laertes and Ophelia have sexual feelings for one another. The sexual relationship between Gertrude and Claudius is the the only case which could be evidenced as incest. Hamlet and Ophelia's relationship could be considered passionate or even immoral, but again, there is no evidence from the play to support this.

I am very surprised that Freudian theories about Hamlet have been so widely accepted because of the general lack of evidence for them in the play. I don't think that the fact that Hamlet's desire for Ophelia cannot be acted upon has anything to do with any attraction he feels for his mother. He may be extremely overwhelmed and angered by the image of his mother and uncle together, but this is only natural since their being together resulted from a the murder of his own father. I don't see any evidence in the play that supports the theory that Hamlet is jealous of the relationship his mother has with Claudius. One theorist says: “toward the end of his interview with his mother the thought of her misconduct expresses itself in that almost physical disgust which is so characteristic a manifestation of intensely repressed feeling.” I think that is absolute garbage, and it is healthy to repress sexual feeling, or for that matter most passionate desires. Just because a person feels like doing something, does not mean that it is right or healthy for them to do it. (Just look what happened to Polonius when Hamlet did what his emotions instructed him to.) I think that self-control is of the utmost value, and is an essential part of a responsible person's character.

In my study of Hamlet, one of the major essay topics to choose from was the "sexual nausea" of Hamlet. I really don't think that Hamlet is about sex. Although sex is necessary for human survival, and can be a good, and beautiful thing, it is neither the most important thing, nor the pinnacle of human existence. Since my English Text was so devoted to the sexual implications of Hamlet, I am surprised that it did not state that Hamlet and Horatio or Ophelia and Gertrude were attracted to and involved with one another. The fact that Guildenstern and Rosencrantz are always together must also imply that they are attracted to one another, and surely Claudius takes sexual advantage of the servile attitude of both these courtiers. It is possible that any one of the characters in Hamlet could experience feelings of attraction for any other character, but there is no real evidence for most cases.

I disagree that Hamlt has “heavy sexual overtones." Basically, I think that our culture's sexual obsession comes down to the fact that we are members of a perverted and confused generation that is intrigued by the strange and disgusting.

-- Erin James (Erin1.James@ucourses.com), March 26, 2003.

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