Sie sind auf Seite 1von 3

Chaudhry

Since the time of the Greeks, western civilization has incorporated the four humours into medicine, psychology and nature. During the Elizabethan times, the humours were of great importance and evidence of this is apparent in Shakespeares Hamlet. Sanguine, choleric, melancholy and phlegmatic are the temperament versions of the four humours. Each temperament symbolizes the type of emotional personality the characters are which influence the desicsion they make and ultimately the path which they will go down. Characters in Hamlet embody the temperament of each humour further emphasising their importance in the Elizabethan culture. Hamlets temperament symbolizes melancholy, which is one of the four humours. Melancholy temperamental people are depressive, cynical, creative and considerate although as Hamlet starts going mad, his consideration of others appears to be non-existent. In the beginning of the play Hamlet, the audience is aware of the death of old king Hamlets death. One of the reasons of Hamlets grief is the death of his father and the hasty marriage between his mother and Uncle Claudius. Hamlets hate for Claudius is apparent when he chooses not to murder his step father for fear he may end up in heaven as a result of being killed during a confession. Hamlet is vocal about his depressive and cynical feelings when he said, Oh, that this is too, too sullied flesh would melt, thaw, and resolve itself into dew.(1.2.129) Furthermore Hamlets depressive thoughts have led him to contemplate suicide when he exclaims, To be, or not to be.(3.1.55)Hamlets death occurs as a result of him fully succumbing to his madness and making decisions without any consideration. Throughout the play, Hamlet falls apart with from his family and friends including Ophelia whom he is

Chaudhry

disrespectful too and ultimately is one the reasons which leads to hear death aswell. Finally Hamlet symbolizes the depressive and cynical behaviour of melancholy or the black bile.

Polonius sanguine temperament is portrayed through his kindness, thoughtfulness and good intention for other characters in Hamlet. Although his actions may appear to be sinister, his intentions are the opposite. Polonius is a compassionate individual who is very vocal about his opinion throughout Hamlet. Furthermore Polonius was the one person who tried to search for the true cause of Hamlets woes. Polonius states, But yet I do believe, the origin and commencement of his grief, sprung from neglected love.(3.1.180) Not only does Polonius care for hamlet but stays loyal to the royal family throughout the play. Polonius proves his good intention and loyalty when he said, I hear him coming, lets withdraw.(3.1.55) Polonius kindness and thoughtfulness is proved by his good intentions although he was misunderstood, he emphasizes his own sanguine temperament. Shakespeares use of the four humours in Hamlet emphasises the importance of the humours in Elizabethan culture. Hamlet represents melancholy and just like other characters in the play, succumbs to his own behaviour and illness. In his state of madness, Hamlet states, I am but bad north- north west , when the win is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.(2.2.28) Additionally Claudius choleric behaviour is obvious in his dialogue. Claudius explains, Sith you have heard, and with a knowing ear, that he which hath your noble father slain, pursud my life.(4.7.44) The four humours had a significant impact on Elizabethan culture and the evidence is apparent in Shakespeares Hamlet.

Chaudhry

Claudius is the new king and step father of Hamlet whose role in the play is defined by his choleric temperament. Firstly Claudius intelligence and confidence adds to his role as a leader. In fear of Hamlet, Claudius said, I like him not, nor stands it safe with us, to let his madness range. Therefore prepare to, I your commission will forthwith dispatch, and he to England along with you.(3.3.1) Additionally Claudius attempts to save himself further increases Hamlets suspicion and hate towards him. Also Claudius states, How much I had to calm his rage. Now I fear this will give it start again, there for lets follow.(4.7.191) Claudius overconfident behaviour and sinister actions in sync with his choleric temperament were a display of the effect of the four humours on the behaviour of individual characters.

Each character in the play, Hamlet is led to death by their own temperaments and decision making. Hamlet succumbs to his madness and Claudius over confidence in his plans lead them to backfire, ultimately leading him to death. As the play continues the characters further entrap themselves in their own temperaments. The humours explained actions and mindsets of the characters. Shakespeares portrayal of the characters makes apparent the importance of the humours during the Elizabethan times. The influences of the four humours in Shakespeares Hamlet is apparent in the portrayal of the characters Hamlet, Polonius and Claudius.