Archetypes in English Drama

Carl Jung, being served as the first president of the psychoanalytic association has come up with Analytic Psychology.

The collective unconscious feelings and questions that were never repressed, and were present at birth. Primordial images are somehow a potential to respond to the world in a certain way. (Example, a baby reaching out for its mother). Collective primordial images are known as Archetypes (father, mother, sun, moon, hero, god and death).

The important archetypes like  Anima- the feminine side of a male, Animus- the masculine side of a female, the shadow- contains the unconscious part of ourselves that is negative, or the dark side of our personality, Evidence of the collective conscious and recurring symbols in dreams and images exist in all of us in our conscious mind.

One of the first modern scholars to point out these similarities was Gilbert Murray. In his “Hamlet and Orestes;’ delivered as a lecture in 1914 and subsequently published in The Classical Tradition in Poetry, Murray indicated a number of parallels between the mythic elements of Shakespeare’s play and those in Oedipus and in the Agamemnon of Aeschylus.

The heroes of all three works derive from the Golden Bough kings; they are all haunted, sacrificial figures. Furthermore, as with the Greek tragedies, the story of Hamlet was not the playwright’s invention but was drawn from legend.

As literary historians tell us, the old Scandinavian story of Amlehtus or Amlet, Prince of Jutland, was recorded as early as the twelfth century by Saxo Grammaticus in his History of the Danes. Murray cites an even earlier passing reference to the prototypal Hamlet in a Scandinavian poem composed in about A.D. 980. Giorgia de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend in Hamlets.

Mill have traced this archetypal character back through the legendary Icelandic Amlodhi to Oriental mythology. It is therefore evident that the core of Shakespeare’s play is mythic.

In Murray’s words such sacrifices were no longer performed literally but were acted out symbolically on stage; yet their mythic significance was the same. Indeed, their significance was very similar in the case of Shakespeare’s audiences.

The Elizabethans were a myth-minded and symbol-receptive people. There was no need for Shakespeare to interpret for his audience: they felt the mythic content of his plays. And though myth may smolder only feebly in the present-day audience, Francis Fergusson have provided clues to many of Hamlet’s archetypal mysteries.

In The Idea of Theater, Fergusson discloses point by point how the scenes in Shakespeare’s play follow the same ritual pattern as those in Greek tragedy, specifically in Oedipus; he indicates that To appreciate how closely the moral norms in Shakespeare’s play are related to those of ancient vegetation myths, we need only to note how often images of disease and corruption are used to symbolize the evil that has blighted Hamlet’s Denmark.

We should mention one other myth that relates closely to the meaning of Hamlet, the myth of divine appointment the Tudors been divinely appointed to bring order and happiness out of civil strife but also any attempt to break this divine ordinance (for example, by insurrection or assassination) would result in social, political, and natural chaos.

The relevance of myth to Hamlet should now be apparent. The play’s thematic heart is the ancient, archetypal mystery of the life cycle itself. Its pulses the same tragic rhythm that moved Sophocles’ audience and moves us today through forces that transcend our conscious processes.

Through the insights provided us by anthropological scholars, the same we perceive the archetypal pattern of Shakespeare.