The Oedipus Complex

What is The Oedipus Complex?

Definition: The Oedipus Complex is a psychoanalytic theory developed by Sigmund Freud that describes a child’s unconscious sexual desire for the parent of the opposite sex and rivalry with the parent of the same sex. According to Freud, this desire is universal and occurs during the phallic stage of psychosexual development, usually between the ages of three and six.

The complex takes its name from the Greek myth of Oedipus, who unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother. Freud used this myth to illustrate his theory that boys develop sexual feelings for their mothers and see their fathers as rivals for their mother’s attention and affection. Similarly, girls develop sexual feelings for their fathers and see their mothers as rivals.

While the Oedipus Complex is primarily a psychoanalytic concept, it has also been used in literary analysis to describe works that deal with themes of family, desire, and power.

Example: The play “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare has been analyzed using the Oedipus Complex.

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