Hamlet has been accused of having an Oedipus complex since Sigmund Freud first introduced the concept. Childhood sexual frustration aside, Hamlet's love for his mother is one of the driving forces of the play. Gertrude's incest is constantly commented on by Hamlet. Through examination of the text, it can be interpreted that Hamlet is motivated to action by his concerns for his mother and the devastating sin that her incestuous union will leave upon her soul.
Early in the play, Hamlet is left alone after being confronted by his mother and uncle. His lament ends with this lambast of his mother's crime of incest:.
Frailty, thy name is woman![ ].
O god, a beast, that wants discourse of reason,.
Would have mourned longer- married with my uncle,.
My father's brother, but no more like my father.
Than I to Hercules. Within a month[ ].
O, most wicked speed, to post.
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!.
It is not nor it cannot come to good. (1.2.145-158).
Here Hamlet comments on the disgust of his mother's sin of incest. In fact, at this point incest is the only crime Hamlet is aware that has been committed. Hamlet pursues stopping this crime throughout the play. When the ghost reveals the events of his death, Hamlet, after wishing the ghost farewell and promising he will not forget him, first comments on his mother: "O most pernicious woman!"(1.5.106). The meaning of pernicious is: "1. Highly injurious or destructive: deadly 2. archaic: wicked (Merriam-Webster 864). Using the word pernicious, Hamlet is associating guilt onto his mother, the guilt of incest. He then goes on to speak of Claudius, the murderer.
Throughout the play Hamlet repeatedly refers to his mother's quickness to re-wed: "What should a man do but be merry? For look you how cheerfully my mother looks and my father died within s" two hours."(3.2.124-126). Indeed, the incest is the sin Hamlet hopes to catch Claudius in so that he can send Claudius to Hell: .