Document Type : علمی - پژوهشی


1 Islamic Azad University, Rasht Branch

2 Shahid Beheshti University


In Shakespeare’s portrayal of madness, mind and body are not considered as binary opposites; on the contrary, they appear to be closely intertwined. A number of the most memorable characters in Shakespeare’s dramatic works suffer from mental disorders. A study of these characters’ mental problems on the basis of new psychological perspectives reveals that many of their mental obsessions and anxieties result from considerations pertaining to body. The interrelation between psyche and soma is most clearly discernible in the process of subjectivity in the course of which speaking subjects have to demarcate the territory of their independent and autonomous self primarily through separation from the maternal body and by constructing an independent, clean and proper body of their own. Such a body has a clear territory and exact borderlines. Besides, it has a distinct sexual identity. The subject’s effort to construct such an image of his/her body is not merely a personal and private matter. It is influenced by social, cultural, and biological standards since the subject tries to harmonize this image with these norms. Therefore, body in this sense is not just a material or biological entity; it turns out to be a social and cultural issue. The present study is an attempt to analyze the interrelationship between psychological tensions and corporeal considerations in the male subject’s psyche through studying the mental obsessions of Hamlet, as one of the most outstanding of Shakespeare’s mentally disturbed characters. To fulfill this purpose, some of his inner conflicts are analyzed in the light of Julia Kristeva’s theories regarding abjection, confrontation with the abject and the role of these procedures in the formation of subjectivity in order to gain a better understanding of the latent causes of Hamlet’s psychic trauma’s and mental disturbances. Viewed from this perspective, it is revealed that anxieties and concerns about the body of the masculine subject and cultural measures for the sexual identity of the male sex are at work behind the symptoms of Hamlet’s madness. The psychological crisis which Hamlet has to deal with after his father’s death has got several dimensions some of which will be analyzed in this research in reference to Kristeva’s notion of abjection. In this regard, Hamlet’s desperate battle to reassert his male identity, his quest to restore purity and purge himself and the whole world from corruption, as well as his hatred and fear of female body and sexual desire as a source of contamination and a serious threat to his manhood are most significant. In addition to the effeminizing effect of the female heterosexual love and the contaminating contact with the female body, the female kind’s power of regeneration terrifies Hamlet as well. All these features contribute to Hamlet’s identifying the female body as abject and lead to his repudiation of any attachment to it. Thus, it is possible to explain why Hamlet dedicates himself wholly to the sacred mission of revenge and solidifies homosocial bonds with his male companions since through these strategies, he believes he can confirm his autonomy and independence as a masculine subject and secure the territories of his clean and proper body.


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