Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Let not the royal bed of Denmak be/a couch for...incest."

-Incest!
-A Couch!
Isn't interesting that many things ivolve incest? Coinidence, Frued? Methinks NOT!

19 comments:

Ehren said...

let me just ask why there is so much incest in literature. Did they think it was entertaining? Funny? Dramatic? It doesent seem like there is much incest in current entertainment (if you exclude that one episode of Nip/Tuck).

stephen said...

The concept of incest was probably not as inappropritate in earlier times because marriages were mostly dependent upon social status rather than love. Royal blood was considered better than that of the common people so incest among the royal family could be seen as perserving that "higher" quality of life rather than an inappropraite relationship.

Dean Elazab said...

I agree with stephen. I brought up that point in an earlier topic and I think that back then it was more common in royalty.

JP said...

But more often than not, incest is portrayed as a taboo in earlier literature. It seems to me that it was just as inappropriate back then as it is today, but for some reason people just felt like writing about it a lot more?

tmichals said...

Well at first I felt like it really wasn't as taboo back then. People didn't seem to mind as much except for in Oedipus when the mom freaks out once she realizes she committed incest. Besides, who is going to question the incest among the royals at that time?

puddlewonderful said...

I think, firstly, the sort of incest that occurs in the literature we read is a lot worse than, say, the incest that occurred between royals (not that any incest is good incest). I mean, incest between cousins or second cousins is not quite as disgusting as incest between parents and children and among siblings, etc. Secondly, we've seen that medieval art was grotesque and gruesome, and Greek tragedy was extremely dramatic. Incest has always been a really disgusting thing to everyone-- there are few people who do not feel an almost innate revulsion at the thought of incest. So I think Shakespeare and Socrates use the idea of incest to disgust their audiences, to really draw out strong emotions in them. It's just a tool-- the same way we sometimes use certain scenarios in modern dramas (infidelity comes to mind) to arouse the audience's extreme emotions.

Aaron Nussdorf said...

I think that incest appears in liturature because we have a primal fear of sleeping with a family member. Liturature uses incest as a subject because liturature is a way for us to assess, address and discuss our fears, hopes and deepest-inner-feelings.
Royal familes only committed incest because it was a "necessay" tradition, which stated that royalty could only marry other nobility. This concept would not have been so foreign because, in the pre-/early-Medieval era, there was a plethora of nobles.

JP said...

Michelle -

... So basically, you're saying incest was used as a shock factor?

That just seems so foreign to me. Shock factors like sex, violence, etc. seem normal to me, because everybody likes those things. They attract people. But incest seems more like something that would repel people. At least, it definitely would in America today. Maybe that's just because times have changed.

Nussdorf -

I suppose that's plausible. To be honest I've never felt a "fear" of sleeping with a family member, as not sleeping with a family member is actually pretty easy. But then again, I've never really bought into the whole Freudian "we all want to have sex with our parents" stuff.

puddlewonderful said...

Yes John-- I think it's an issue of the time period. People back then were closer to their family members-- they didn't have such an outside, extended network of friends to associate with, so I think people spent a lot of time with their siblings and cousins and parents. They grew close, and familiarity, especially I suppose in backwards areas... can give rise to such thoughts. So, while today gratuitous sex, rape, violence, etc. are serious threats that could really face us today, back then, incest was something that I think was more real to them. Today it's just strange and gross. To them it may have been a distinct possibility.

Or perhaps it was just an incomprehensible difference in the way they thought.

I don't think Hamlet uses incest to address our deepest fears (although perhaps Oedipus may have), rather, it plays upon/ uses our (or their, at the time) deepest fears to connect to the audience, draw them in, and frighten them.

Stephen said...

I do not think that incest would necessarily be used as a shock factor because Hamlet has so much action and other subplots going on that it seems unlikely that Shakespeare would need to used something as repulsive as incest to interest his listeners.

puddlewonderful said...

You're right, Stephen.

But, Shakespeare doesn't really use it that much. I mean, he mentions that it's incest-- but he doesn't emphasize the fact that it's incest so much as the murder and infidelity aspect. He seems to find it much worse that Gertrude didn't mourn long enough for her husband, and that Claudius killed his brother, and that Gertrude moved from one brother to another... that is the disgusting aspect. The technicality of incest is the cherry on top, I think.

tmichals said...

I agree with Michelle and Stephen on this one. While Shakespeare uses incest with many relationships throughout the play, I think it is definitely more subtle in Hamlet than in many of the works we have read so far. Like Michelle was saying, is the big deal really that Claudius is Hamlet's uncle or that his mother married him immediately after the death of his father?

Aaron Nussdorf said...

Shakespeare seems to believe that the relationship between Gertrude and Claudius is incest. But is it really? Gertrude and Claudius were in no way related, and royal families constantly married cousins.

Ehren said...

They said in the footnotes that marrying your dead relative's spouse was cosidered incest. I don't really understand that either. Maybe it was Biblical? We are reading parts of the Gospels in religion and I think I remember reading one passage stating that marrying a woman who has been divorced is a sin, which was cited is the same passage that said getting a divorce was a sin unless due to adultery. Maybe Claudius and Gertrude's alleged "incest" is related to this?

tmichals said...

funny story off topic... today i was in dr. ramos's room and i was talking about something and I was like "well I mean we didn't have incest when we were in your class" but I meant to say incense. It was really funny... Humanities is taking over my brain

ndepass said...

I agree pretty much with what was already said, i think we have a different opinion of it now. Now we find it disgusting but i guess to them it was more accepted, unfortunately.

JP said...

tmichals said...
"well I mean we didn't have incest when we were in your class"


Freudian slip?

bballinsupasta said...

i don't feel that incest was more accepted back then, except in regards to preserving royal blood. i also think that people then had as many friends as people today do because whether or not your head was chopped off depended a lot upon who you knew.

Manal said...

I agree with Michelle, Taylor, and Stephen's comment about how the incest part was not as importanting to this piece of literature as murdering the king in his sleep. I think the audience would at that time would have been more angry or repulsed at the idea that the king was not able to repent then th eidea that the queen married her dead husband's brother though the situation would have been wierd for Hamlet.