Psychoanalytic criticism renders Ophelia anomalous, no longer Hamlet's erotic object in her own right but a refraction of his cathexis on the Queen. This approach obscures how profoundly Ophelia, the only daughter in William Shakespeare to renounce the lover her father forbids, violates generic norms, and how structurally similar Hamlet's two examples of madness are. Hamlet and Ophelia go mad after sacrificing the independent (and expected) aims of adulthood at the commands of fathers whom the play links to figures of murderous aggression against children: the biblical Jephthah and Seneca's filicidal ghosts. Hamlet is a play haunted by fathers who wish to have no heirs.


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