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Tirzah Etherton 2/13/2013 ENL2330 001

Shakespeare: a genius whom scholars revere, and students everywhere fear. A man so brilliant, he created plays and sonnets that are still studied and admired in this modern age. One of his most well known, performed, studied, and adapted plays is Hamlet -- the story of the young prince of Denmark and his quest to avenge his fathers death. Along his quest, he begins to see the world as twisted, seeing man as nothing more than dust and women as nothing more than sexual predators. He, thus, sets his sights on the paganistic goal of revenge, which ultimately results in making his already dim view of life darker. As a resolution to his madness and crazy antics, he accepts how insane and terrible the world is, and moves past it to complete his mission. After his fathers passing, Hamlet falls into a deep depression that is only deepened when he must avenge his fathers death. Although he claims that his madness is an act, the depression combined with the stress of such a heavy task is grave enough to drive anyone insane. He explains to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern how he had lost of his mirth, and forgone all customs of exercise; he then continues to explain how marvelous man is and all the wonders they can do, yet they are nothing more than dust (I,ii, 301-319). As he is slipping further into his rouse, he begins to see the simplicity of life, and how human beings are so little and worthless in the greater scheme of life. His To be or not to be (III,i, 56-89) soliloquy highlights not only his

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desire to end his life, but also how Hamlet views mankind as abusive towards one another. This mindset, added to his mental state, only warps his view of the world. The sexuality of women in Hamlet plays a huge role in the way he views the world. The idea that women were weak is introduced in Act I, scene 2, lines 145-157, continued with Hamlet nagging on the fact his mother rushed to be in the bed of his uncle. Frailty, thy name is woman!- [] O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason would have mourned longer! [] O, most wicked speed to post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets! (I, ii, 145-157). Because his mother seems so anxious to get in a younger mans bed, this warps Hamlets view of women, which increasingly warps his view of the world. The spite and frustration he feels comes to head when he repeatedly tells Ophelia Get thee to a nunnery!(III, i, 121). He emphasizes how womankind were unfaithful and that they were nothing more than liars, spatting out: I have heard of your painting, well enough. God hath given you on face, and you make yourselves another. You jig and amble, and you lips; you nickname Gods creatures and make your wantonness you ignorance.(III,i, 144-148). Although his hate and frustration towards women stems from his mothers actions, his outburst with Ophelia is a mixture of hate and disgust for himself and the world in general. I m very proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. what should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves, all. Believe none of us. (III, i, 124-130). He believes that not only women are liars, but mankind in general, and that none can be trusted. In his eyes, he, as well as humanity, have become far too corrupted.

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At the time Hamlet was written, the Puritan church was the main church in England, and Catholicism was banned. The huge theme of the play is revenge, a paganistic practice frowned upon by Christian society, as well as the idea that purgatory exists, a Catholic belief. Hamlet goes against his Christian morals to avenge his fathers death, and set him free from purgatory. It is inaction of Hamlet that actually pushes the plot forward; he is unable to kill his uncle, which in turn leads to six unnecessary casualties throughout the play. Because Hamlets moralistic views about revenge and murder hold him back, he spends the majority of the play thinking about the meaning of life, and whether it was easier to die than to live. Throughout the text, Hamlet is conflicted between killing Claudius or committing suicide. Although the play is focused on revenge, it is not steered by Hamlets actions; ultimately, it is driven by the words and emotions of the characters. Hamlets emotions and ethical ideals are a hindrance and a driving force of the domino effect of the play. If not for Hamlet feigning madness, Polonius, Ophelia, and perhaps Rosencrantz and Guildenstern may still be alive in the end. If not for Hamlets encounter with Fortinbrass army, Hamlet would have never had the push to actually kill Claudius. Act IV, scene iv, lines 32-46, is the eye opening moment for Shakespeare in his quest for vengeance. How all occasions do inform against me, And spur my dull revenge! What is a man if his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more. Sure, he that made us with such large discourse, looking before and after, have us not that capability and godlike reason to fust in us unused. Now, whether it be bestial oblivion, or some craven of thinking too precisely on the event- A thought which, quartered, hath but one part wisdom and ever three parts coward I do not know why yet I live to say This things to do, Sith I have cause and will and strength and means to dot.

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In this paragraph, Hamlet comes to the realization how man has the ability to act. He has the God-given ability to carry out the task laid before him, and if an army is willing to lay down their lives for a patch of land, then he should stop whining and avenge his father. It is in this moment that he resolves to rise above his disdain for humanity, and complete his quest. Shakespeares Hamlet has great depth and meaning, with so many themes and even lessons that can be taught and learned today. The world is a confusing place, and humanity is twisted. Although Hamlets sanity was in question through the whole play, he asks many of the same questions society asks today. His view on life, the world, and moralistic values are still some of the many issues and questions that mankind is still dealing with today. However, one of the resolutions of Hamlet is that humanity has the power to change and overcome the difficulties and challenges society faces in their everyday lives. Thus, even through questions of morality and existentialism, each one of us, even Hamlet, is given the choice to do something substantial with our lives and choices.

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Citations Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. New York, New York: Signet Classics, 1998. Print.