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I believe that Shakespeare had a specific intent in Hamlet's willful denial of what

is generally staged as a verifiable reality: the letters and trinkets Ophelia holds in
her hands. Hamlet's gesture speaks to a much larger project of resisting a
definition imposed on him by what he sees as a coercive and illegitimate speech
culture headed by the king.

- SMITH, DAVID M. "Shakespeare's HAMLET.(William Shakespeare)(Critical

Essay)." The Explicator 59.4 (Summer 2001): 174. Expanded Academic
ASAP. Thomson Gale. King County Library System. 13 Mar. 2007

The essay, which I can not claim to have read quite the rest of, contends that Hamlet is

tired of Claudius's fluffed-up speech at all times, and Hamlet is making some sort of avant-grade

protest. However, I really think it goes much further than this. Hamlet spends the whole play, in

my opinion, trying to break free of banal reality. He goes around what he does to define other

people's reality - he convinces everyone else he really is insane, while actively disregarding

anyone else's views as "words, words, words." In th end, however, Hamlet has a point. Everyone

bears some notion to reality, but disposes of it when they want. Gertrude had a quite banal hope

for Ophelia and Hamlet to get married as any normal person should have such a happy, normal

marriage. Yet not only does this version of reality clash horribly with Polonius's, but what is

Gertrude, marrying her brother-in-law despite having a child, doing trying to lay a claim on

reality? Than again, the same could be said of Hamlet as well. He tries to mold Ophelia's reality,

or rather destroy it with an on-off relationship, yet he is certainly not completely sane! In the end,

this "war of realities" leads to all the protagonists dying or murdering each other. The only two

people who have normal endings are Fortinbras and Horatio: Fortinbras is portrayed by the

characters as the brash, obnoxious lad who doesn't care about what others think. In reality, he is

just refusing to confirm of their realities. Horatio, who rarely speaks throughout the play, just

listening. This is because unlike everyone else, he has no agenda, but trying to pierce reality

Several times during the play, Hamlet expresses dissatisfaction with words[...] In
fact, the play has been described as a portrait of a man who thinks too much--that
is, a man whose head is so filled with interior verbalizations that he is incapable
of taking action.

- Delaney, Bill. "Shakespeare's Hamlet." The Explicator 63.2 (Wntr 2005): 66(3).
Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. King County Library System.
13 Mar. 2007 <>

Is this really true? Hamlet is upset at his inability to take action throughout the entire play, but it

is not like there is a direct correlation between wordiness and inaction. Just take a look at the

other characters, one by one. Poloniuos has pompous talks constantly, yet is always scheming

and acting on supposed behalf of his children, spreading rumors and spies to keep track of them

and to make sure they do what he wants. Claudius does the same, and is filled with speeches and

royal pronouncements. Perhaps this because they wear their thoughts on their sleeves, so the

implication is that the disgust of words is about thinking to oneself. First of all, that does not

make much sense, because words are something that one shares. Second, as you go through the

characters, the only heroes are the silent ones, Fortinbras and Horatio. Who does Hamlet have in

mind when he is talking about words? Even as a self-evaluation, it is kind of weak. His most

successful forays, driving Ophelia crazy and appealing to his mother, were done with words.

Explaining individual scenes in the play where words are talked about is easier than trying to

draw a conclusion from all of these disparate people, as the author suggests. For example, in the

"words, words, words" scene, he could easily be just putting on a show of "Oh, life doesn't

matter, this is useless, etc." But the author has a point, especially since this book was written by a

poet. Is Shakespeare just being ironic and self-referencing for fun, like the advice on the acting?

perhaps. Perhaps Hamlet really does believe it on face value, but he is rationalizing his failures,

or is just insane. But that's an obtuse argument. There is some meaning here. I still just don't have

any idea what it could be.

Yet Hamlet, if emotionally immature, isn't a boy. On the evidence of the
gravediggers' scene, he is 30. This prompted Auden to ask why he is still a
student. (Doing a PhD at Wittenberg, perhaps? ) It makes me wonder why
everyone seems to have accepted without demur that Claudius should succeed his
brother as king, rather than the Prince who is heir-apparent. This is all the stranger
because Claudius tells us that Hamlet 'is lov'd of the distracted multitude' -- like
Edward VIII?

Did the Establishment, as in Edward's case, see something unstable and rotten in

- Massie, Allan. "Prince of self-pity.(Hamlet)(Critical essay)." Spectator (July 15,

2006): NA. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Thomson Gale. King
County Library System. 13 Mar. 2007 <>

The assumption here is that Claudius took the throne without a fight. The royal court is not in

this play at all; unlike his other historical tragedies, it's as if they never existed. This could just all

be a matter of convenience on Shakespeare's part. After all, the play is already plenty long. There

are a couple bit parts with them, after all. If this is not true, then they all had to have co-opted the

king or just hated Hamlet. There was no fight, since he was on the throne by burial. Perhaps the

former King was not as magmanious as Hamlet made his out to be? He could easily just have

been a tyrant, and there was no-one left to question him. Alternately, making the same ends but

with more flattering means, the King was a populist, and greatly diminished their authority

(highly unlikely). Another odd but unlikely thought was that Polonius co-opted it. Perhaps he

was seeking to reduce the likelihood of Hamlet going after his daughter, in his perverted but

good-intentioned ends-justify-the-means way in which he fawns over his so-called little children.

Perhaps the lords figure that Claudius's illegitimacy would make him more manipulable, but

could have equally held that Macbeth woudl be too young and weak to lead effectively (after all,

when you may be invaded by another country, patronage is irrelevant.) Whatever the answer is, it

certainly leaves open a dizzying possibility of answers.