Reality, Morality & Madness: Psychological Perspectives on Hamlet


Why has Shakespeare’s Hamlet captivated audiences across the world for over 400 years? Why has it inspired countless critical commentaries? Hamlet is arguably Shakespeare’s most psychological play. It speaks to us about the life-and-death realities of being human. We will examine the deeper motives and ambiguous characters of Hamlet, Claudius, Gertrude, and Ophelia. While psychoanalysts have tried to apply Freudian ideas to Hamlet’s psyche, the chameleon character of Denmark’s dark prince defies easy description.

We will show how Hamlet has been differently interpreted by comparing films by Laurence Olivier, Mel Gibson, and Kenneth Branagh. Major themes on the uncertain nature of reality; discerning truth, deceit, and betrayal; mortality; grief; normalcy; and madness will be discussed in light of modern psychological research. Hamlet provides a window into family dynamics, sexual preoccupation, fathers and sons, and the strengths and vulnerabilities of women in Shakespeare’s era—as well as in our own. We will comb Hamlet’s soliloquy “To be or not to be,” a profound reflection on life’s meaning, for its relevance to our own lives. 

Instructor: Steve Bank

Dates: Friday, May 1 (3:00 – 5:30 p.m.)

Thursdays - May 7, 14, and 21

Time: 4:30 – 6:15 p.m.

Location: The Wasch Center - 51 Lawn Ave, Middletown, CT 06459

Cost: $125

STEVE BANK - Psychotherapist, former Adjunct Professor of Psychology, co –author The Sibling Bond, author Hamlet-The Sequel. The course Psychological Perspectives on Hamlet expresses Steve’s life-long interest in using psychology to help people understand their lives and their relationships.