BHOllJOII.

S lEImGIllI$lH[

DUE: Tuesday, January 22, 1991 Do One of the following I

Take Home Final - Part I January 15, 1991 Mr. McSweeney

But we can find, if we return to the play itself, more in Shakespeare's conception of Hamlet's character than an embodiment, however profound, of the difference (between appearance and reality. (The difference between appearance and reality himself; Polonious, the ghost, the King, all mention it in one way or another; (isthecontinually with which images of painting, by other people hidden diseases are frequency referred to throughout the play of covering up besides Hamlet used is another illustration of its prevalence; and it is the central idea of Hamlet's m.~~~~Cit~9I1s the qr~ve.y.ar.d..) Shakespeare had made severafeariierexperiments in with the development of character; in portraying Romeo and Prince Hal, among others. he had shown his ability to make a hero change.. as the result of the play's action. But just as ..------ Ulustrates both a more expanded and a , more fused Hamlet control of dramatic convention an~nat beJ.ief than the earlier plays, so it shows a greater mastery of hOw to describe the growth, inside dramatic limits, of a hero. This can be clearly seen if we examine, in order ,rHamlet I s great

.'--

----

(solil~qUies.of his thoughtfirst see Hamlet reflected he isthe grammatical chaos of and When we and feeling is alone, the chaos in emotionally in pieces, his /utterances; before he can finish a sentence some new agonizing disruptive thought :explodes to distract his mind. The order of the world, of the state, and of the individual are all in pieces and the chaotic grammar reflects the universal chaos of his thought. The same is true of his second great soliloquy, the one beginning: 0, what a rogue and peasant slave am I! in which he burst into violent self-depreciation as he thinks of the difference between stage-playing and real action. But even in this speech, at the end, he pulls himself together and orders his thought to plan the testing of the king. Planned action takes the place, as it had not before, of emotional desperation. In the soliloquy that follows (as far as the audience is concerned, about three minutes later), the "To be or not to be" soliloquy, we see a Hamlet who is able to generalize on a new level. No longer is there a grammatical torrent, and no longer is Hamlet thinking about~.~~nce as opposed to I).Q.n.=~~l~~~_ only in relation to himself; he has grown, psychologically and philosophically, so that he can think of the problem more universally. In the first soliloquy it was "This too too solid flesh"--Hamlet's own -- about which he was concerned. Now, as the play reaches its center, it is no longer" I", but "we" --aUl1l,UnaIti,ty--that he reflects upon: "When we have shuffled off this mortar-coiL •• " .. With these suggestions as a beginning, trace the development of Hamlet's character through the play from an upset frustrated and confused schoolboy in Act I to a .J!1atureman in Act V, when he finally comes to grips with Claudius. Quote from anywhere in the text you wish to show the changes Hamlet is forced to undergo, but concentrate on his soliloquies. In the end Hamlet must come to grips with a reality which shapes him rather than his first act conceptions :that he, by force of will, can force reality to his own conceptions. Stress those moments when Hamlet sees things, especially people, as they are rather than in the idealistic images he has been taught to believe in.
.a

.

Discuss as fully as you can the tragic conflict suggested by the fOllowing paragraph and show how it destroys Hamlet. Argue that the destruction is either Aristotlean or Renaissance. I suggest that we can understand Hamlet best by realizing that in the play Shakespeare for the first time used to the full the conflict between the two views of man's nature which was so deeply felt in his age. One side was the pictLre of a man as he should be--it was bright, orderly and optimistic. On the other was the picture of man as he ~ is--it was full of darkness and chaos. Shakespeare puts an awareness of this contrast into the character of Hamlet, and his having done so is one of the main reasons for tl...amlet's greatness. Previously Shakespeare had used the tradliional beliefs descriptively as part of the background--the sun is compared to the king, the human bc?dyis compared to the state--and there is no question as to whether the beliefs are true. But in Hamlet, they are not in the background, they are an essential part of the hero's consciousness I and his discovery that they are not true I his awareness of the conflict between what theory taught and what experience proves I wreck.s him. Shak.espeare had used the difference between appearance anQ..reality as a dramatic device many times before I but never like this I and.-never in such close relation to the thought and feeling of his time.

~-

\ I
t

,1
} -1

II
QI

f

-

f

f

I)

I
')

\ \\
'\
\1

.\ I
(Pt'\

1-, ( I., ~l!;,

I
\{

\

Lt

Hamlet Final - Part I - Take Home

II
If Hamlet is not content with the simple soldierly code of honor, it is because he sees too deeply and skeptically into that cosmic setting of human life which Shakespeare's theater symbolically represented. He sees beyond the tiny human involvements of the foreground to the social order indicated by the stage house facade and, above that, to the order in the stars implied by the canopy over his head. This is especially clear in his first scene with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (Act II, scene 2). It is in this scene that he m~kes the great speech on man which Tillyard quotes as an exposition of the traditional ordered universe. But the speech ends bitterly: "And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?" Though Hamlet accepts this order, he does not know where he belongs in it; he is not even sure which way is up. He would have felt the forces of that remark of Heracleitus which Eliot uses as an epigraph to Burnt Norton: "The way up and the way down are one and the same." His intellect plays over the world of the religious tradition with an all dissolving irony like that of Montaigne in the Apologie de Raimond Debonde: A truly double-edged irony, for he can neither do with nor do without the ancient moral and cosmic order. That is why he has a despairing fellow-feeling for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. He knows them for little trimmers, neither for God nor for the Devil, but" for themselves," like the dim figures in Dante's Limbo: "indifferent children of the earth", "Fortune's Privates," as they call themselves. He is himself anything but indifferent, yet he does not at that moment know how to care, and so he feels himself, like them, lost between "greatness", and the chill of more bodily "weight" and utter faithlessness at the bottom of the universe. Thus he is troubled with "bad dreams". How does Hemlet resolve his place in the ordered Elizabethan universe and what factors contribute to his finding his place in the sup? Be as specific as you can is your reply.

22 .January

1991

It is perhaps control. that Man wants

the

nature

of human that own

beings

to his destiny, a a that we

to bel ieve master

he can fate.

control

he can

be the we can But have

of his

We begin

with

feel ing that ball et star'. do not always

be anything age comes

-~ an astronaut, the hesitant

a doctor,

with this

real ization

power, that

unforeseen

happenings

combine And

with after

startl ing recognitions this, This we gradually see

leave for

us feel ing powerless. action, whatever the

a need

outcome.

is the

cycl e which

Haml et foll bws

in Sh':3.kespeaF'el.:; l!mit"'F"'or~

II up to naturi:=1.

second
i···,:i.s

stage

of revisionment,

of recognition. shoes his were
.

His

mother

married

unc'if::,) "I:,,'j·-··e funeral t(iO~:;P ~ prophetic soul Soon, suspects two

o'ld,'! (:!.,,:2,,1L!·,~),,) i::\nd is to blame his for is of

his the less his

Uncle betray begins

Claudius him and

f unet""'a• 1
than action,

friends Hamlet
1

girlfriend regardless

forthcoming. people

to see always

that
1

in his

ife do not

ive up to his ThEY "pl ay"

'=~{pectations. the part. This they spurs

WOF"5e yet,

they' sometimes

pretend.

Hamlet

to find thE

that

things

are Hamlet

not

always

what

seem.

Throughout

play,

though,

has

a consistent,

if overzealous,
U'-'

abil ity to see I

through

facades. (1.2.76)

As he says, He then the part confront:; of the to his

;:;eems, maoam: mother

I

-,

knov·J nc:::t Iseen1s.·IH bel ief that the related she

his

with widow,

his and

only

plays hE

mourning

bel isf that

is true

ShCH"iing. Eschewing F'olonius'
pl'-'OC

t~em,,:\rk trh3.t the "clc,thes

oft

1aim the man," he indi cates that cloak"

his gl~i ef goes beyond his by', the by the

"inky

and "5.ui ts of woe" <.*ndhe is "denoted tr'uly" Such talk is IrJr'itten off

"actions

tha,t a man might play'."

"less, tha,n kind"

I<ing a,s "unmanly grief." this g~ief and revisioning with him into his

Hamlet carries

f ir~,;t sol i 1oquy.
wOI~1 that d Hamlet stops short he. He attacks all

He assai 1s the ent ire

"Llnweeded garden" of t.he But

all O~·JSuch horr'id s

and weak people to gr·ow. people suffer

of announcing other men, but relates he ack nowl edges his

as much as

misfortune impotency";

only to himself.
21,S

At the s5a,me time,
(ny'

he "mi_lst ho'l d

t.CjngLlE

a

II

(1.2 .1~58)

In his second sol iloquy, argues that

the "Dram of evil" cite one fault

speech, Hamlet as a reason to

too many people will

bel ieve someone full y c:ot~rupt, ever#,.s thissimpl y a "vicious mole of n.atw-·e in them." (1.4.26) Confused and bitter, Hamlet looks at a general seeing the e'ffect In fact, as other problem of humanity, but again falls interest. Just short of

of thi5, beyond his personal

throughout consider
i:

the speech, he seems hypocritical Denmark a poor state inds no val
LIP.

nations

because of the

"dr'a,m of evi 1 ," Hamlet mistakes,

in those who ha,'/e made some He shm",s the while

some of which were beyond control.

tendency among the young to depend on a double-standard judging
..

the world. his father's ghost leaves him, Hamlet reflects of achieving
(Jf

After ghost's against

on the

advice

and speaks passionately damned villain"

revenge

hi'::; "smil in':;;!,

an uncle.

bc:;th with

Claudius

a.nd the

I!perniciou.·::5" past, to

Ger-·tr-·ude. "wipe away all

,~ r,e

. 1S

now determined past ~" (1.5.100) continues
J

to abandon his

pressures He that

and r'emember" the diatribe against

"'JOrds of his

unc 1e.

his

false

appearances,

declaring

"one may smile, Hamlet's

and smile, next important

and be a villain." speech appears

(1.5.108) in Act
II,

after
I!

Rosenct""·a.ntz 2.ind Gui 1denstet""'n revEi:j,l. they

"were sent "all

for'.

I

l

(2.2.300)
as he loses records,
No~""

He describes his mirth.

his

forgoing

of

custom of e:-;ercises," trivial fond

Since world

he wiped

away all

Hamlet
{'s a

sees the

as worse than
r TaU '

an unweeded garden.

it

i and pestilent

congre·;;;at i on of

va.por··s." These vapors

have mCl.dehim 1o~;e i ntet"est

in what \!oJ5.Se 1i evec:! to be the b

"par-'agon o·f an i ma1s , I! i. E. man. of dus.t.!I At the
E.~nd,

It

is not.hing impl ies hi0.

mot-'E than

"a qLlintessence Guildenstern

Hamlet betray

he knows that to his y,

and Rosencrantz grinning

will

Returning

comment about

villains,
'.:-lOU

Hamlet sayssai-·ca5ticc.".11
-:;a..y

"Though by your" gt-inning

f::;E::'em to

so.

II

(

2 It:;~ 9 ) ,.31 remains in his '51ave" confusion sol and despair throughout his f-·ernot-·se

Hamlet

"r-OgLle and peas.ant because a speech. broken of the With

i 1oquy.
eyes,

He is dec15.I'"'in9 his of a player distraction suiting while in his With forms

impassioned "Tears

reactions

performing aspect, to his A

in his whole

voice,

and his

function

imaginary •
-=.:::>

problems

than

Hamlet

is to his

real

ones.
·f

Haml~t~eitet"".at.e~" hi'::5 impotency
Saol

e;{pre·::.5sec.i

i r'st

i 1Dql.lY,

t.his. ti.me feel ing

"unpt"'egn2."'l.ntof my cause,

and ca.n 55.',.'

nothin,g

.Il

(2.2

,,58t)-'''581)

He continue=.' his "what ",in Cl.S'5" he is

fall

into

sel f·--dis···· and that he

paragement,

I·-·eal in9 iz

(2.2.595),
wor'ds, and Recovering

"!DU'st, 1 ik e a ~'\lhor"e, Ltnpack my he,art with cursing discovery sketches At prepared though, custom Act
,'""

f a.l a1 from brains this and

1 ike a vet~y d!r·ab." of his a plan last, own

(2.2.594-598)
he calls uncle. his

inaction, his

together

his

to catch

Hamlet them

understands with action.

spineless One

words his

and

is

to back

questions his does his

resolve, away the in

as he seems of exercises

to merely speech.!'

be repeating But elated Hamlet with

"wipe fol low

through
SLtc:c:ess .

...:;

,

S~ene next but This

2, and appears
sol iloquy the same

actions' readying

His action, effort. universal action begins am

(3.1) shows
time

Hamlet

himself the the

for whole

at

he contemplates he sees that all

abandoning men and face the

time,

however, All

same of he loret

questions. often

men, face ing.
01-

confl ict, his

courses scope,

are this

unappeal

Indicating not to be"

wider

spei-'2ch "To be, The

(3.1.56),
point,

not when

"Am
H<:<inl

I not,"

indecis;ic:m c1 ima:<es at this value in taking arms

contemplates

the

or suffering. -- that that "consc

He admits

his. pr"ob1err. O:l.nd the make name of

pr'ob1em of a 11 man

i ~.:?ilce does.
the

cowar'd~" of us· all."

(3.1.83)

Fearing

he wi]'; "lOSE

of C:l,ction,"HO:l.mlet attacks, Ophel U.i with thee to a nunnet-'y," and

his. "Hllbi';;luOUS cl~ies

"Get

lea"',Ies hero"~PoloniLi':::.i)-s.nd King thE'

s.hocked. Soon after, he confronts Ros.encrantz a fool and Guildenstern with after he is not

'.

his

new

found him

bravery. to play

He makes the

of Guildenstern that

badgering

recorder.

He concludes

twice

faced These

with two

his

own

mortal ity. Hamlet's unexpected and return from England

occasions, his sending in the

(specifically and his

Rosencrantz graveyard, Hamlet

Guildenstern him men into meet

to death} a man the of

experience The

transform that all

action. fate, the

gravedigger

shows

same in

~·jhether~they

werce emperors

or court fall

jester~s.

Conf ident

"special

pr"'ovidence in the with

(~:5.2.220-·221), of a sparF'D~\i,1!
cat ~"oji 11 thE

rods confr~ontation mew, cue .and the for

Laet~tes C:l.ssu.r··es t~t thC:l.t HC:l.m1 "The ha.ve his day,"

dc'S) will

(5.1.294)

the him

motive for

and

pa.ssion

s~"Jell ~'ljithin him, blames kills those Claudius the who

embol dening for

C:l.ction.

After forgives The death

Laertes

everything, King, and

Hamlet himself. --

Laertes, of all

unnatural made

dies

Hamlet's and

1 ife tempestuous Claudius

Polonius,

Ophel ia, Laertes, stet~ 1 iz es,

Gertrude, state

-- cleans, In his a man main last who plot. to

pei~%a5
words,

i

the

F'ot ten

0'(

Denmad::.

Hamlet the

bestows play

the

throne

u.pon Fortinbras, removed from the

throughout The

is completely and

cacaphony and the

of betrayals rest

false .

portrayals

gives

way

order,

is silence

..

II ea",;::' er

to play

upon

than

.::., pipe,~ Ii ,:':l,ne! though
t=

the

pa ir cou 1 ,j 'f n?t Rosen-

him

;....' t.hey llCannc.it. p12l.YLlpon" Illin

Though t.he formidable up the power
r '
or

crantz

and

Guildenstern Hamlet

are

from moves

19l.tr-e earl ier

Claudius, violently

gradually

ladder,

chastising and

Ophel ia, then finally

humil iating

Guildenstern,

kill ing Polonius, But prepares uncle Hamlet's to kill

terrifying and The inaction occasion

Gertrude. resurge seems -- and just as he

insecurity Claudius. no one

perfect yet

his

is defenseless,

is around

if he murders reluctantly state,

Hamlet decides such as ~o wait "in the until Claudius is in a less of his prolongs chance has

sanctified bed, his

incestuous Thus

pleasure Hamlet another mother

or at game and Shakespea~e's

play,

preferring His

to wait. for
~'"J

at murder.
Ii speak

encounter' as plunging

ith his

Ham] at

i ng

dagger's ~II to

as well the then

them.

He begins

by comparing ear'.II mother,

his

father Hamlet for

gCJds, ,,,,,nd his, un::1e tC:1 c; directs about his her fury directly

"mi Idewed
at his with

(:].4.65)
searching Finally,

an-

answers

involvement

Claudius.

he asks

Before sweetnes:;.;; "ioJhen in one here shows he

he

leaves,

Hamlet

reflects

on

the

1 in>.? tlo'JO ct"'a+ts:, dii'·'ec:tlyeet.." m physical or intellectual

Hamlet

is will ing to face with Claudius.

confrontation By Act

IV,

Scene

iv, Hamlet. seems is nGt~

to have

lost

all

faith good.

in

'.

the sees

virtue
'50

of man.

Man

he bel ieves,

inherently
U.'::.

He

ma.ny ~\jho,:':<.11 ':.:.lodl !'~ea,SGn Oio'J " ike Tc.fu.''5tin

unussed,"

(4,4,38-'39
example the of

J

so m.::\ny·iholC 2, ij ~ these people are

to USE·ethat those

"one

pat~t wisdom," for the attack

i~n on

responsible

"eggshell" men who

o·f Pc,lish will die

1.:=.mL

Haml et

is incap;;.bl of e But the

stopping speec/"'j concludes or be

20,000 brings

"foF" a trick

of fame." when

abowt

a third

declaration

of resolve his "thoughts

Hamlet

t.hat from

that. moment. forward,

be bloody,

not.hing wor-th," Regardless his life of these bloody thoughts, "The Hamlet and do often perceives

as be'/ond hi·:;:; cont.rol: fortune" action and "How all

sl ings

c\!~-rows o·f

outr'agebus but the
hi,:;:; Dllm

occasions leads but

in-Fc)t~m a(;;ainst me",

(ot" inaction) Claudius, was

to his. collapse. cedes it. of Hamlet's

He ha:;:;

opportunity

to ki11

Claudius' influence, debate

premature but. his keeps

ascension hold Hamlet not on

independent was

that from

throne exacting

not.

It is not

mOt~al

which

revenge.

It is ct~ippl ing r'at.her'

indec is iem.

He does

th ink,

"t1urdet~ i. s wr'ong," but to heaven." actions, (3.2.77) not fate,

mu!"'det~ nOv-J"this Aristotle

\/illain sends that

bel ieved

man's

brings the

true

If action protagonist Both Hamlet's that faces

leads

to a reversal any

of fortune, man his becomes

and

a recognition, and

good

tragic. he as

action

i(~lac~ion and

reverse
ClaudiLls

for-·tune, while not as pure

real izes he had

Ophel ia, Getrude, " time, Hamlet or the and man new

are

e~{ pected same

At the structure

must

choose

between

two

worlds:

the Man

of tradition be doubts is lost, and

disorder as he shocks

of the

Renaissance. Rising and with

-.

l.c

as~should are new

is emerges. to the flesh,

him

fears,

Hamlet

(joes not alwc\ys feel pr-'ep2u-'t:~d +':0 cope irJi+.:h t.hen·,) f1t.ilhe ~ twice faced with his own mortal ity. These two occasions, (specifically his sending Hamlet's unexpected

t·::.

return from England to death}

Rosencrantz

and Guildenstern transform

and his experience action.

in the graveyard,

him into a man of

The gravedigger

shows Hamlet that all men meet the same or court jesters.
II

fate, whe+':herthey were emperors

Confident

in

the "spec ial pf"ovidence in the fall of a sparrow, his confrontat ion
IN

C::.2 .220- .. 21) , 2

ith Laet~tes a.ssures Ha.ml et V'lat II The cat wi 1 1

mew, and the do'; wi.ll have his day," cue for passion swell within blames

(5.1.294)

the mcd:ive and the him for action. Hamlet

him, emboldening

After Laertes forgives Laertes,

Claudius

for everything,

kills the unnatural

King, and dies himself.
1

The death of all those who made Hamlet's Polonius, pet~%a5 Ophel ia, Laertes, Gertrude,

ife tempestuous

--

and Claudius

-- cleans, In his last a man who

ster' 1 i. ze's, the rotten i bestows

state of Denmat~k.

words, Hamlet throughout

the throne upon Fortinbras, removed

the play

is completely

from the main plot. gives way to

The cacaphony

of betrayals

and false portrayals

order, and the rest

is silence .