Review: Family Romance or Family History?

Psychoanalysis and Dramatic Invention in Nicolas Abraham's "The Phantom of Hamlet" Reviewed Work(s): "The Phantom of Hamlet or the Sixth Act: Preceded by the Intermission of 'Truth'" by Nicolas Abraham Nicholas Rand Diacritics, Vol. 18, No. 4. (Winter, 1988), pp. 20-30.
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-A. A voice from another world. by an accidental blow. This event follows an exchange among Hamlet. W." written in 1975as a sixth act to follow Shakespeare's Hamlet. The destiny of humanity is exhibited as a gigantic Sphinx. iambic pentameter. Nicholas Rand. My translation uses a combination of blank verse. and prose. and the demand remains without effect. the criminals are at last punished. and young Fortinbras.Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature Nicolas Abraham's "The Phantom of Hamlet. Assuming the role of psychoanalyst. Elaine Markr. . Judith Miller. the ghost of his father. irresoluteforesight. Esther Rashkin.FAMILY ROMANCE OR FAMILY HISTORY? PSYCHOANALYSIS AND DRAMATIC INVENTION IN NICOLAS ABRAHAM'S "THE PHANTOM OF HAMLET" Nicholas Rand Nicolas Abraham. . "THE PHANTOM OF HAMLET OR THE SIXTH ACT: PRECEDED BY THE INTERMISSION OF 'TRUTH. and impetuous rage hurry on to a common destruction. . Gail Dreyfuss. ."' Trans. demands vengeancefor a monstrous enormity. . but.4 (1988): 2-19. I would like to thank my colleagues and friends Andrew Bush. Horatio. Diacritics 18. Mary Lydon. is both intimately linked with and contrary to traditions of Hamlet criticism prevalent since the eighteenth century. and ends in the crowning of Hamlet as King of Denmark. . . which threatens to precipitate into the abyss of scepticism all who are unable to solve her dreadful enigmas. Schlegel. as it were. See Abraham and Torok [447-741. cunning treachery. .' His dramatic sequel reverses the effect of the final scenes of Hamlet by bringing the murdered Prince and the ghost once more on stage. Fortinbras investigates the probable reasons for the destruction of the royal family of Denmark (King I . and Marian Rothstein for reading the translation and making valuable suggestions.

diacritics 1winter 1988 21 .

Shakespeare's Hamlet has been aptly called the "Mona Lisa" of literature. yet doing nothing but resolve" (Coleridge). Polonius. Inadequate motivation for Hamlet's flaw of paralysis is extended to include the entire play in T. Yet the expositorsof this overbalancein the contemplativefaculty also point to a form of insufficiency in Hamlet: "Something is wanting to his completenesssomething is deficient which remains to be supplied" [Coleridge 477. He questions the ghost's reasons for demanding vengeance and wonders why Hamlet's interview with the ghost throws the prince into confusion instead of spurring him to action. The play has enjoyed the same mixture of admiration and incomprehension as its pictorial counterpart. young Fortinbras conjectures that the six characters who were killed or committed suicide in Shakespeare's tragedy were doomed by the devastating effects of secret crimes. Young Fortinbras seeks to discover the identity of the original poisoner and finds-in the actions of Laertes. The precise nature of the crimes comes to light when Fortinbras links the double poisoning of foil and drink in the duel of Hamlet and Laertes [act 51 to Horatio's account [act 11of another duel. is the appropriate object of inquiry. some thirty years prior to the action of the play. Poland." These readers classified the Prince as prey to the "vita contemplativa. Like Hamlet himself. "Hamlet (the man) is dominated by an emotion which is inexpressible because it is in excess of the facts as they appear. Polonius. he may sweep to" his "revenge"? Coleridge and Hazlitt agree that in Hamlet the "ruling passion is to think." Abraham gives Polonius a political motive for his crime: the desire to avenge his country. The comparison with Mona Lisa suggests that the character of Hamlet is an impenetrable surface whose features-perhaps through the utterly arresting finish of the depiction-fail to yield the depth requisite to make their humanity credible. who served as instigator for two separate murders. those of King Fortinbras and King Hamlet. The placidly mysterious smile of Mona Lisa and Hamlet's tortured inaction have for centuries fascinated those who hoped to discover their essence or bring the clandestine core of their being to light. and in the madness and suicide of Ophelia-sufficient evidence to surmise that the poisoner was their father. Schlegel. "with wings as swift as meditation and thoughts of love. King Hamlet appears to have used a poisoned sword. are placed beyond the reach of critical discovery by his own analytical motive-hunting. which at various times had been conquered by both King Hamlet's Denmark andFortinbrasYs Norway. Fortinbras further suggests that the ghost's appearance itself. one that took place between Kings Hamlet and Fortinbras on the day of Hamlet's birth. Piecing together clues from the first act. and Hazlitt considered "the native hue of resolution sickled o'er with the pale cast of thought. S. Prince Hamlet) along with the House of Polonius (Polonius. Eliot's essay "Hamlet and His Problems" (1920)." deftly removing the vitals from the issue of Hamlet's indecision. and not Hamlet's indecision. It is thus a feeling he cannot understand . Laertes). Claudius. Coleridge. Hamlet the play is deficient because it contains "no situation or chain of events" that might justify Hamlet's feelings and behavior. 4791. Hazlitt tantalizes himself and the reader with the suspense of an unposed question: "Hamlet's indecision to act. Gertrude. he does nothing".so eloquently expressed in the abstruse reasoning in which he indulges" [110]. becomes one of the pivotal figures in Abraham's "Phantom of Hamlet. Critics who do not discount the problem of Hamlet's procrastination attempt to supply psychological depth or show deficiency in Shakespeare's portrayal of his hero.Hamlet. Ophelia. not to act" (Hazlitt) and that "resolving to do everything. Theseclarifications explain Hamlet's paralysis: because his father was himself a murderer. thus "the great object of his life is defeated by continually resolving to do. In this duel. They saw Hamlet's inaction as inherently dilatory when it might in fact be taken to constitute the object of serious reflection: what is the impediment to Hamlet's fulfillment of his own expressed wish that. and his over-readinessto reflect. he cannot be avenged.

has its roots in the same soil as Oedipus Rex. Freud writes in The Interpretation of Dreams (1900): Another of the great creations of tragic poetry. This is the compelling inspiration behind Abraham's "The Phantom of Hamlet. Yet it would seem that the only clue pointing to the existence of such a motive is precisely that it "blunts. intelligible. Amid the shapes which to our eyes appear." Abraham responds to Hamlet's final plea: Horatio. Strangely enough. as Eliot wished. His bosomfriend. in the sunlight." As Eliot states. Fortinbras says: This Prince to me. . The unseen web iniquity has cast. his successor. Absent thee from felicity awhile. and it therefore remains to poison life and obstruct action" [loll.357]. Eliot goes so far as to declare that "nothing that Shakespeare can do with the plot can express Hamlet for him" [loll. acting on Hamlet's behalf. Transcendingthis silence through apsychological explanation for Hamlet's inaction was the aim of Sigmund Freud and Ernest Jones." Abraham creates a situation and a chain of events with which. Horatio. And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain. . the secular advance of repression in the emotional life of mankind. I am dead. Horatio. Things standing thus unknown.2. Thou livest. Alert to secrets th' mind prefers to shun. his heart's most inward ear. In Hamlet it remains repressed. Oedipus's unwitting parricide and incest with his mother are seen as the tragic fulfillment of a universal unconscious wish to eliminate the male child's rival for his mother's affection." Fortinbras and Horatio. .. nothing in the play allows Hamlet to understand his indecision. self-complete. [6. . . . make a pact to unravel the mystery. shall live behind me! If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart." opens the story sealed in Hamlet's final words: "the rest is silence" [5. the overwhelming effectproduced by the more modern tragedy has turned out to be compatible with thefact that people have remained completely in the dark as to the hero's diacritics / winter 1988 23 . Iplead we may as one to daylight bring. [5. . 0 God. Yet Hamlet must be expressed.339-501 At the start of "The Phantom of Hamlet. The early psychoanalyticinterpretation rests on a thematic comparison between Oedipus Rex by Sophocles and Shakespeare's Hamlet. and--just as in a neurosis-we only learn of its existence from its inhibiting consequences. Shakespeare's Hamlet. what a wounded name. In the Oedipus the child's wishful phantasy that underlies it is brought into the open and realized as it would be in a dream. . his faithful witness. Shakespeare's play expands into "a tragedy . Eliot suggests that in the play "there is a motive which is more important than that of revenge and which explicitly 'blunts' the latter" 1971. having been given Hamlet's "dying voice. To tell my story. . . The motive for his feelings must be found even if it be beyond the facts of Shakespeare's play.2. But the changed treatment of the same material reveals the whole difference in the mental life of these two widely separated epochs of civilization.1] Fortinbras. report me and my cause aright To the unsatisjied. bequeathed You.

the man who shows him the repressed wishes of his own childhood realized. . Hamlet. Yet the two interpretations diverge because Freud and Abraham seek their explanations for Hamlet's behavior in different sources: Freud in universal infantile complexes and Abraham in the text itself. In Freud's view. can be constructed from the complex of eventsand forces in the tragedy. is that it is the peculiar nature of the task. is infused with the Freudian idea that Hamlet's hesitation has an unconsciouspsychological basis which. they evidently would have been 'repressed. The play is built upon Hamlet's hesitations overfu@lling the task of revenge that is assigned to him.3 Freud assumes that. that Hamlet isfarfrom being represented as aperson incapable of taking any action. the man who in broad daylight embodies desires which must remain uncomcious.. but its text offers no reasons or motivesfor these hesitations and an immense variety of attempts at interpreting them havefailed to produce a result. Abraham sees Hamlet's symptom as a Sphinx-like riddle--to be answered with the aid of Shakespeare's text. Here I have translated into conscious terms what was bound to remain unconscious in Hamlet's mind. While Freud and Jones see Hamlet's predicament in his inability to acknowledge unconscious desires not to act. though hidden. . 19491rely on the twofold hypothesis that "Hamlet at heart does not want to carry out the task" [Jones 451 of revenge. the would-be avenger. Shakespeare's Hamlet draws on a store of ideas absent from the play (the "text offers no reasons or motives") but present in every male child's mind. though not stated. . Abraham seeks aparticular rather than a universal explanationfor Hamlet's behavior. 3. Jones sees in thepotential reawakening of repressed infantile wishes (parricide and incest) the source ofHamletls conflict: Hamlet is torn betweenjilial piety and the murder of Claudius. For Freud and Jones. Psychoanalyse und Literaturwissenschaft: Texte zur Geschichte ihrer Beziehungen (Tiibingen: Niemeyer. Hamlet is a typically duplicitous neurotic whose flight into illness guarantees the avoidance of unbearable 2. Killing hisfather's murderer would be tantamount to Hamlet's mental annihilation since such an act would expose thoughts he could not consciously tolerare. Abraham conjectures that the motive. . Hamlet's inaction is readily understood as part of a generalizableneuroticsyndrome (resulting from an unresolved Oedipus complex). In Jones's words: "If such thoughts had been present in [Hamlet's] mind. reason can be given in the play and therefore he seeks a solution outside it.2 "The Phantom of Hamlet. The difference between the two conceptions affects the attitude adopted toward Hamlet. can be revealed." too. The symptom of inaction becomes transparent once the infantile mental configuration is supplied. By focusing his attention on the role of the ghost. and that his countermotive-the satisfaction of seeing his father dead-is entirely hidden from him. The idea of repression allows Freud to see the Oedipus complex at work even though no trace of it can be found in the play.. once again. 1973)l: "The special difJiculty for the psychoanalytic interpretation resides in the absence of any trace of incest or parricide wish in Hamlet" [242]. The plot of the drama shows us. [29&991 Both Freud and later Jones [in Hamlet and Oedipus. The German critic Hermann Pongs notes in his essay "Psychoanalysis and Literature" (1933) [Bernd Urban. While for FreudandJones. then. Abraham interprets Hamlet's confused hesitancy as the symptom of a genuine desire to act that has been inhibited or thwarted. What is it. Hamlet is able to do anything--except take vengeance on the man who did away with hisfather and took that father's place with his mother. that is. . is a would-be parricide whose longdormant wish has become a harrowing reality. that inhibits him infulfilling the taskset him by hisfather's ghost? The answer.' and all traces of them obliterated" [70]. due to repression. once the general applicability of the Oedipus complex is recognized.

diacritics / winter 1988 . Appears before them. . but swear't. . Ham. [1.143-481. . Hor. the ghost's apparition is accompanied by a persistent need for secrecy.5. on their march . my lord? Ham. A figure like your father. tell it. upon my sword. Marcellus. No. my lord. not I. Good my Iord. We have sworn. Marc. and even perhaps their names tacitly refer to unstated or concealed events and actions that took place before the first scene of the play. This to me In dreadful secrecy impart they did.117-231 Hamlet bids his three companions swear and swear again: Ham.fantasies. the psychoanalysis of the entire play (and not simply of the hero) can be founded on the following methodological premise: the plot. wonderful! Hor. What news. and Bemardo: Ipray you all. Upon my sword. Indeed.247-501 Dialogue between Hamlet and Horatio after the interview with the ghost: Hor. indeed. . Based on his evaluation of hints found in the play. And whatsoever else shall hap tonight. by heaven.196-2071 Hamlet to Horatio. Both. 0. Not I. [1. Ham.2. their death.5. My lord. . the characters. already. Give it an understanding but no tongue. we will not. In act 1 of Hamlet. their speeches. Hor. . my lord. Let it be tenable in your silence still. Once the idea that the Tragedy of Hamlet conceals a mystery is taken seriously. In faith. Abraham considers Hamlet's repeatedly stated perplexity a symptom of his being someone else's involuntary instrument. If you have hitherto concealed this sight. . How say you then? Would heart ofmanonce thinkit? But you'll besecret? [1. Abraham suggests that the source of Hamlet's behavior is not himself but the secret influence of an other. . . and with solemn march Goes slow and stately by them.2. . Marcellus and Bernardo. . [1. Ham. Ham. . you will reveal it. Ham. My lord. Shakespeare's tragedy is then symbolically viewed as a vast graveyard scene in which the context for a hypothetical secret has remained buried. Never make known what you have seen tonight. . Nay. Been thus encountered. Horatio to Hamlet: Two nights together had these gentlemen.

155-591 The ghost calls on them twice more. Hor. Swear. . seeming to reveal one while withholding another. . . Here. Consent to swear. Ham. . as in the best it is. . my lord. Hamlet again says: "And still your fingers on your lips. I am thy father's spirit. "Richer than that which four successive Kings In Denmark's crown have worn" 4 . Fortinbras the analyst contends that traces of King Hamlet's secret are scattered throughout Shakespeare's text. . the excessive secrecy functions as the telltale symptom of a genuinely inaccessible secret. itself merely the trace of a silence the ghost declines to break.9-281 As before. But that I am forbid To tell the secrets of my prison house. Horatio completes the series of hints addressing the ghost: Ifthou hast sound or use of voice. Propose the oath.5. It masks another secret. . has on his conscience" ["The Phantom of Hamlet" 31. thrice refemng to the murder committed by Claudius. even here insistence is a clue. The word "foul" recurs four times. . [ l S. In the context of "The Phantom of Hamlet. "Claudius is amurderer. is merely a subterfuge. letthere be no secret! But why I am doomed to walk.188]. Speak of it. . One clue is the "unionw-the pearl. Swear by my sword. . For which. This reconstruction of clues constitutes the groundwork of Abraham's premise: "The 'secret' revealed by Hamlet's 'phantom' . if thou hast uphoarded in thy life Extorted treasure in the womb of earth. And for the day confined to fast in fires. this one genuine and truthful but resulting from an infamy which the father. .130-401 The psychoanalyst-detective has a suspicion: the ghost walks with a secret. none will ever know. unbeknownst to his son. I pray" [1. .5."4 In Abraham's fiction. Murder most foul. What an extraordinary insistence on secrecy this is! It links Hamlet and the ghost of his father. I could a tale unfold. yet upon entering the castle. Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature Are burned and purged away. They repeat their vows of secrecy. . . . What the ghost tells Hamlet is but a part. Ham. they say. Stay and speak.Before they can consent to swear again. No more than traces. Never to speak of this that you have seen. But this most foul. strange and unnatural. the "rest" unfolds as the invention of the psychoanalytic imagination. the ghost cries under stage: Ghost. . Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder." the calls for secrecy signal the presence of a secret out of both Hamlet's and his companions' reach.1. you spirits oft walk in death. Speak to me. [l. But to what end? Shakespeare's play does not tell us explicitly. Doomed for a certain term to walk the night. once in selfreference to the crimes of the ghost. . . [1.

" "The story opens with a wager. Fortinbras provides one in "The Phantom of Hamlet.6. Is thy union here? /Follow my mother" [5. .4649].2. the "dead man'sfigers" [4.171]with weeds andflowers wrought confiusion followed by death. to the conqueror" [1. murd'rous.326-281. whose son proposes poison. I The head more instrumental to the mouth. . a secret murderer? Was Polonius. when. and Claudius. The poison-laden union bespeaks foul play in the union of lands that occurred when King Hamlet slew King Fortinbras. diacritics l winter 1988 27 . "who did forfeit.1.10-1 11. He displays gratitude when speaking tolaertes: "The head is not more native to the heart. Making night hideous. 6.274-751-that Claudius dropped in Hamlet's poisoned cup. 'Tis strange. Let Polonius's foul deeds be seen. Revisits thus the glimpses of the moon. Could their actions repeat their elders'? Was King Hamlet. Hamlet.2./Drink off this potion. With a wager it nearly ended. fought thirty years apart.51-571 Nowhere in the play does Hamlet receive an answer. / Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father [1. It tells of poison at the root of Claudius and Gertrude's union.1.60-651 5. given that the ghost's appearanceevokes that contest in Horatio's mind: "Such was the very armor he had on /When he the ambitious Norway combated" [I. He smote the sledded Polach on the ice. These facts and clues combine with invention in "The Phantom of Hamlet" to reveal a situation that remained out of reach for Shakespeare's Hamlet. why is this? [1. and how did he come to be associated with Kings Hamlet and Fortinbras? Listen again to Horatio speaking of the ghost in act 1. and we fools of nature So horridly to shake our disposition With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls? Say. scene 1: Such was the very armor he had on When he the ambitious Norway combated: So frowned he once. with his life all those lands Which he stood seized of. in an angry parle. .^ But why Polonius. . .88-901. again in complete steel.1. dead corse. What may this mean That thou. to Fortinbras afurther conviction of Polonius. damnedDane. A situation concerning King Hamlet's duel with King Fortinbras of Norway can be imagined. in truth a poisoner? This is what young Fortinbras deduces in "The Phantom of Hamlet. the second must include the first.2. Why resort to risky stratagems when Laertes was ready to avenge his father's murder openly by cutting Hamlet's throat in church? Why does the King bid Laertes keep close within his chamber and in secret requite Hamlet for his father? In Hamlet secrecy appears to outweigh the need for revenge. seem. Ophelia's madness*alled "the poison of deep grief' by Claudius*ombined with her suicide amidfantastic weeds. Hamlet in act 5 says: "Here.4."s Fortinbras further imagines that Polonius successively served Kings Fortinbras. A memory must have inspired Laertes] to anoint his sword with poison" 651. Claudius hints at the crucial role Polonius has played in his acquiring the crown. Claudius and Laertes conspired to poison the naked sword and royal drink. providing each in turn with his deadly instrument^. thou incestuous.. [ l .yet he comes dressed in the armor that is llnked to his duel with the King of Norway. Of the two duels. The venomous plotters Claudius and Laertes are heirs to King Hamlet and Polonius. murdered by Claudius. The ghost intends to reveal his murder by Claudius.[5.

had he not himself been slain? Killed Claudius and had Laertes elected King? Abraham's "Phantom of Hamlet" creates aprehistory for Shakespeare's Hamlet with the purpose of extrapolatingfrom the play a fictive dramatic and psychological situation that motivates the symptom of Hamlet's blunted revenge. and "Notes on the Phanfom" in FranqoiseMeltzer. Ophelia. 1986).44-591 7. For an exposition of "The Phantom of Hamlet" in the larger context of Abraham and Torok's work. Abraham calls this the ultimate and abominable "Truth" of the play. TheTrial(s)of Psychoanalysis(Chicago: UofChicago P. The "truth" (in Abraham's cautionary quotation m a r h ) is understood here as the willfully concealed point of origin whose manifestations are consequently lies. 1988). young Fortinbras"with conquest come from Poland" [5. ed. 1989) (now in press).. and Freudianpsychoanalytic theory may wish to consult my Le cryptage et la vie des oeuvres (Paris: Aubier. resulting in the latter's murder. . the concept of the phantom is a direct extension ofAbraham and Torok's workon secrets and crypts. How stand I then. Gertrude) and insidiously haunting others (Hamlet. and means To do't. What else might he have done. Sith I have cause. he contrived to have King Fortinbras killedby old Hamlet and helped the latter perish at the hands ofclaudius. Hamlet's psychic inheritance of the secret occurs through the tacit transmission of his mother.4. I do not know Why yet I live to say this thing's to do. Elaborating on the interpersonal consequences of silence.In "The Phantom of Hamlet. The reader intrigued by the implications of Abraham and Torok's work for the study of literature. . caught between rivals equally bent on conquering his country. philosophy. .329]-might well imagine that his own triumphant "Polack wars" are but the continuation of his father's. Furthermore.L'Bcorce et le noyau. . a mother stained. Excitements of my reason and my blood. Abraham considers the perplexity of readers to be an echo of the play itself. SeeThe Wolf Man's Magic Word: A Cryptonymy (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. whose thwarted love for the deadFortinbras ofNorway motivates her complicityin poisoning King Hamlet. Claudius. On the day of the infamous combat was born Prince Hamlet.2. and strength. Family Secrets and the Psychoanalysis of Narrative (forthcoming). Laertes). And let all sleep [4. and will. "truth" is specific (not an abstraction or ontological absolute) in thut the actions of the play can be traced to their individual source. waged in competition with King Hamlet." Polonius-whose name means Poland-is assumed to be a compatriot of the "Polacks" attacked by King Hamlet. Abraham hypothesizes that Polonius. 8. the unwitting heir to a crime perpetrated in secret by his father. Abraham locates in the vengeful actions of Polonius the ultimate source of the drama? From Polonius's scheming flows the rigged duel between Kings Hamlet and Fortinbras.~ Sphinx-like quality of Shakespeare's play is derived from the faint yet pervasive presence of a secret shared silentlyby some (Polonius. Hamlet's haunting confusion or "phantom" is provoked by his unconsciously dawning yet incredulous suspicion that something shameful was left unsaid during the life of the The decea~ed. see Esther Rashkin. Moreover. vowed to have revenge on both. Hamlet's own dilatory speculation and bafflement at the absence of motive for his inaction are paralleled by the myriad efforts to interpret his predicament. That have a father killed.

and his death is at last effected by an incident which Hamlet has no part in producing. After he has. the scheming of Polonius. peak Like John-a-dream. and the pious. rather an instrument than an agent. it is also a tragedy of enigma. A dull and muddy-mettled rascal. breaks my pate across. . . Samuel Johnson summarized some of the disparities in 1765: The conduct is perhaps not wholly secure against objections. While in diacritics 1 winter 1988 29 . by the stratagem of the play. and the probable complicity of Gertrude.0 what a rogue and peasant slave am I! Is it not monstrous that this player here. Hamlet is. Tweaks me by th'nose. and may be charged with equal neglect of poetical probability. . he makes no attempt to punish him. Gertrude. And all for nothing? . and Polonius's past. . Shakespeare's Hamlet is traditionally classified as a revenge tragedy. . Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face. . Abraham lends coherence to aspects of the play that have been repeatedly designated as inconsistencies." By revealing a secret and inventing concealed dramas in King Hamlet. Abraham's sequel proposes that the fateful acts happen before the opening but are never revealed to the hero. And can say nothing-no.and the gratijication which would arise from the destruction of an usurper and a murderer. but there are some scenes which neither forward nor retard it. Could force his soul so to his own conceit Thatfrom her working all his visage wanned. not for a king. . Of the feigned madness of Hamlet there appears no adequate cause. . . unpregnant of my cause. Had he the motive and the cue for passion That I have? . Tears in his eyes. the beautiful. the revenge which he demands is not obtained but by the death of him that was required to take it. But in afiction. is abated by the untimely death of Ophelia. [Bronson 344-451 The forcible confluence of characters who actively conceal and of those who stagger under the oppressive seal of secrecy accommodates the madness of Ophelia and the discomfiture of Hamlet to the apparition of the ghost. .for he does nothing which he might not have done with the reputation of sanity. The action is indeed for the most part in continual progression. . The poet is accused of having shewn little regard to poetical justice. . Am I a coward? Who calls me villain. Hamlet is radically different from Oedipus Rex. distraction in's aspect. Yet I . . What would he do. through the whole play. convicted the King.2. Yet. in a dream of passion. gives me the lie i'th'throat As deep as to the lungs? Who does me this? (2. the harmless.502-271 Hamlet's question "Who does me this?" receives an answer in "The Phantom of Hamlet. as our four-centuries-old fascination has shown. In this respect. the young. The apparition left the regions of the dead to little purpose. Upon whose property and most dear life A damned defeat was made.

The murderer is found-yet no revenge takes place. a murder has been committed before the first scene and an investigation carried out. Abraham sees in the general obscurity and structural unrest of the play a mark of the unspeakable secret that constitutes its unrevealed core. In Hamlet. T. The Interpretation of Dreams. New York: Dutton. As in OedipusRex. ed. the process of inquiry remains incomplete since the recognition of King Hamlet's murderer does not produce the clarity necessary for the play to reach its catharticresolution. Selectionsfi-omJohnson on Shakespeare.Oedipus Rex-another revenge tragedy-the decisive act (the murder of Laios) also occursbefore the opening. the process of self-discovery by Oedipus constitutes the plot. "The Phantom of Hamlet" thus supplies the process of discovery exemplified in Oedipus Rex but mysteriously absent from Hamlet. 1817. and the recognition of his identity coincides with the climax of the tragedy. Sigmund. H. Nicolas. Bronson. In Shakespeare'sHamlet. and the crime is avenged. 1978. The inquiry is carried to the end until all the precipitating causes of the tragedy have been revealed or invented. Hamlet and Oedipus. too. "The Phantom of Hamlet" provides Shakespeare's play with a fictive structure of catharsis similar to that of Oedipus Rex. New York: Norton. William. Paris: Flammarion. S. L'icorce et le noyau. Eliot. .. By casting young Fortinbrasas the analyst of secret dramas inherited from another generation. and Maria Torok. to which Hamlet's perturbed mind is an unwitting host. B. through the ploy of Hamlet's Mousetrap. a part of the drama itself.Whereas in OedipusRex the revelation sought is achieved.the murderer is found. our attention is graduallyfocused on the inquirer himself. since the hero's inaction has ceased to be the main focus of the inquiry. 1972. He has thereby altered the terms of Hamlet criticism. despite the investigation. Lectures on Shakespeare. 1951. in Hamlet what persists. 1965. Jones. WORKS CITED Abraham.the play itself performs an investigation. The Sacred Wood. Freud. 1986. 1987. Rather. Hazlitt. Samuel. New Haven: Yale UP. New York: Avon. is a bewildering sense of nonrevelation. London: Reynell. London: Methuen. Will be published in English by the University of Chicago Press as The Shell and the Kernel. In the ancient play. 1976. Abraham has created an emblematicexpression of psychoanalytic inquiry into haunting. Coleridge. Characters of Shakespeare's Plays. Ernest.