October 20, 2005


Shakespeare, Hamlet (Acts 1 & 2) -- Drama as Literature (EL 250)

KING: ‘Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet, to give these mourning duties to your father. But you must know your father lost a father; that father lost, lost his; and the survivor bound in filial obligation for some term to do obsequious sorrow. But to persever in obstinate condolement is a course of impious stubbornness. ‘Tis unmanly grief. It shows a will most incorrect to heaven, a heart unfortified, a mind impatient, an understanding simple and unschooled.

In this speech, the king is not being pious, whatsoever. He is not being good or faithful; his behavior is an affront to religion. He’s telling Hamlet, “You’re a boy. We die. Deal with it.” This is the worst possible speech a grieving Hamlet could receive, especially after he uses sexual innuendos about being the king, and now being Hamlet’s father, as well as uncle. This is probably the most harmful thing Claudius could have said in this situation. It makes the read wonder is he spiting Hamlet? Play a politician? What is the purpose of this action?

Posted by KatieAikins at October 20, 2005 3:01 PM

I do think that he is spiting Hamlet. I think he feels very powerful over Hamlet now that he has the throne and that he is marrying his mother. I just think the whole idea of his uncle marrying his mother is a little out there. But i understand what you are saying Katie.

Posted by: Denamarie at October 20, 2005 5:31 PM

This is an ultimately power trip, being a king. Of course this is spite, now he has the power to completely deny Hamlet to the throne than alone tell him what to do. This reminds me of the rule of Elitism (also on the demotivators website) "It's lonely at the top. But it comforting to look down on everyone on the bottom."

Posted by: KevinHinton at October 20, 2005 8:14 PM