Friday, September 14, 2012

The Oedipus Complex

Freud developed a psychosexual theory, the Oedipus Complex, in the 20th century.  I’m not going to waste time on the Oedipus story, cause I think I know we know it now, you know?...But Freud seems to believe boys’ love for their moms turns sexual at some point and they feel fear and aggression towards their fathers.  Aggression, because they want dad out of the way, and fear, because dad might castrate them. However, at the same time, they model their behavior from dad in order to attract mom.  You’re a whack-a-doo Freud! Oedipus was destined to sleep with his mom! It was pre-ordained by the gods!  He didn’t consciously or even subconsciously kill his dad, he didn’t know who his dad was! He only thought he did.  Get yo’ facts straight! 

But if Oedipus is based on royal families of the time, and something like this did happen, whether the person knew they were sleeping with mom or not, then that gives Freud a little legitimacy. Plus, this isn’t the first time we’ve encountered incest. In 100 Years (between the aunt and the nephew) and in the Tin Drum (Maria and Oskar). Oskar also “killed” both of his fathers, which is part of the whole goal for boys according to Freud’s Oedipus Complex .  We established earlier that Oskar preferred Mama over Broski and Matzmath and that he especially disliked Matzmath. Maybe there is some underlying truth to Freud’s theory?


Madeline Davis said...

First of all, I agree with Laura that Oedipus had no idea, even subconsciously, that he killed his father and slept with his mother. In fact, he was so appalled by the thought of that prophecy that he distanced himself from his presumed parents to prevent it from coming true. But we all know how that worked out.
As for Freud's Oedipus Complex theory, I find the whole thing fascinating and confusing and super weird all at the same time. In regards to its legitimacy, I can see it making sense in real life (although that's pretty creepy to think about), but not so much in the play itself. I understand why Freud used the term "Oedipus Complex" to describe his theory, but I don't think Oedipus possessed this complex at all. Like Laura mentioned, Oedipus had no control over his destiny, and the prophecies were bound to come true, whether he liked it or not. One might argue that part of his hamartia (throwin' it back to AP English 3, y'all) was the subconscious desire to lead to his own demise and fulfill the prophecies, but I think it would be a stretch to psychoanalyze Oedipus to that extent.

Ben Bonner said...

I don't really think this play has much to do with psychology, which, as far as I know, hadn't really been developped at all at the time Sophocles wrote this play. I think it has more to do with philosophy and the theme of fate versus free will. It's ironic that Oedipus's efforts to avoid the fulfillment of the prophecy are what lead to its fruition. For the ancient Greeks, this play also would have had a religious/theological significance as well as it raises the question how actively involved the gods are in the lives of mortals and what, if anything, mortals can do to go against their will.