HAMLET SHOULD HAVE BEEN A ZEN MASTER

A NTHONY R EAD
HIS PROBLEM: 

His uncle has married his mother, to get to the throne. He also killed his father. Everyone expects him to avenge his father, but he doesn’t like the idea. The way people perceive justice to him is flawed.

WHY HE IS AN EXISTENTIALIST:    

‘The sum of all your actions’ = Existentialism. So if he kills, he is by definition a murderer to everyone. Is not comfortable with this. The action is innocent until someone views and judges it. ‘Nothing is good or bad; only thinking makes it so’.

WHY HE COULD ALSO BE A RELATIVIST:  

Moral relativism ties in with existentialism. Can we say there is a universal moral standard? Or is it just a product of one’s upbringing and perception? In that time, the Church created moral standards: ‘thou shalt not kill’. But is the argument for the 10 commandments really feasible? Hamlet is unsure of his morals, and therefore doesn’t know whether to kill or not. Torn between church law, personal vendetta and popular opinion.

THE ‘DEATH’ SPEECH:  

‘The undiscovered country’. Can relate to his uncle, or to himself or to his mother. Comes true at end as well.

WHY ZEN COULD HAVE HELPED HIM: 

Zen is about voidance: about voiding thought and finding oneself in a state of nothingness and being at the same time. Also entails the Double Game: able to stand outside of oneself and look at a detached view of a situation. This definitely could have helped Hamlet, to make him realise that revenge is not the only way to resolve the situation. Also can make him realise that being judgemental and moralistic all the time is just another form of self-deception.

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