Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Hoyt Bowen, William McMahon, George McCelvey

Degree Program

Department of English

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The examination of the climaxes of the two plays Hamlet, and Coriolanus, illustrates that the two mothers, Gertrude and Volumnia, have destructive influences on their sons. The closet scene in Hamlet reflects that Gertrude's second marriage and her choice of Claudius shatter Hamlet's Idealization of her in the role of the faithful wife and the virtuous mother. Hamlet's inaction and destruction are caused in part by his mother's influence.

Volumnia's influence both shapes and destroys her son. She rears him as the embodiment of her chivalric ideal of nobility. The climactic scene in this play reveals that Coriolanus' calamity is caused by his mother's influence.

The study shows that Hamlet's catastrophe springs from an inability to accept the disparity between the real 'Gertrude of the play and his Idealization of her, and that Coriolanus catastrophe springs from his inability to conform to the ideal Volumnia has instilled in him, and act in accordance with his concept of filial duty. This thesis examines and reveals sore of the inadequacies of a psychoanalytic approach to explain the action of the characters case studies of the suppression of sexual drives.


Arts and Humanities | Comparative Literature | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles | Playwriting | Theatre and Performance Studies