« The Devil is Laughing and Drinking Lemonade | Main | The Keys to the Gate »

September 16, 2007

The Sick Genius Known As Hamlet

EL237-Writing About Literature

Hamlet, Shakespeare


I've been on hiatus since early August and I know it sounds funny but I'm ready for the blogging again.

Now back to the subject.

Since I'm reading Hamlet in my Shakespeare class in the present moment and time, I feel pretty excited to blog about it. When we discussed Hamlet, we discovered that there are different reasons why characters perceived Hamlet as being crazy. The see Hamlet as they see themselves acting towards other. This "formula" that Father Honeygosky showed us is as follows:

  1. Since Gertrude is grieving (somewhat) for her late husband, she thinks that Hamlet is insane due to grief.
  2. Since Ophelia is deperately in love, she thinks that Hamlet is insane due to love. (Polonius thinks this way, too)
  3. Since Rosencrantz and Guildenstern is looking for ambition, they think that Hamlet is insane due to ambition.
  4. Since Claudius is paranoid, he thinks that Hamlet has paranoia.

Unfortunetly for those folks, they have no idea that Hamlet is simply playing to their emotions and thoughts. He is using people as musch as they are using him. The weird thing about Hamlet is that no one fufills the desiny that they want or at least expected. For example, Hamlet thought that he could just kill Claudius and avenge his father. Instead, he killed Polonius, Laertes, Claudius and died in the process and then there is the question of for revenge or just for rage. I definetely did not know why Horotio said to the dying Hamlet "Good night, sweet prince" when he manipuated everyone in the entire play.

This play is all about perception. In Act 3 scene 4, Hamlet questions Gertrude about Claudius and asked her "Have you eyes?" Basically telling her how could she choose Claudius over Hamlet, Sr. Of course, what we (the audience) see is the truth and the characters see the charade. In Hamlet's case he had to or face death by a paranoid King Claudius. So I doubt that the overdramatic acting by Hamlet was needed to even get close to the crooked king. 

Do you think that Hamlet would have avenge his father if he would have killed Claudius immediately?  


Posted by KevinHinton at September 16, 2007 3:38 PM


Horatio's final assessment of Hamlet is definitely more sympathetic than one might expect. But Horatio is a thoughtful philosopher, so just as the others see their own madness reflected in Hamlet's madness, perhaps Horatio sees his own humanity reflected in Hamlet's humanity.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at September 17, 2007 2:38 PM

I don't know if you've seen the Ethan Hawke film version of Hamlet (modernization) or not, but I think one thing that the director chose for that film may relate here: In Act 2, during one of Hamlet's monologues (lines 527-582), in the middle he has Hamlet run into Claudius's empty office with a gun raised.

I don't think Hamlet was ready at that point in the play to kill Claudius. I think that it would have been more of a vengeance, but I don't think we have enough character evidence that he would have been able to do it.

Posted by: Diana Geleskie at September 17, 2007 6:15 PM

I agree with Diana. I don't think Hamlet would have been capable of killing Claudius immediately. If he had, however, I do think that he would have avenged his father. The whole point in killing Claudius was revenge. It would not have mattered when he killed him, only that he did kill him.

Posted by: Jennifer Prex at September 17, 2007 10:58 PM

Horatio had every right to be sympathetic. He was the only person other than Hamlet who knew the whole story. He had been there from the beginning, since the third citing of the ghost. Horatio knew hamlet's intentions; I think he understood that Hamlet intended to harm only Claudius. Horatio is really the only person who knows the true Hamlet.

At the close of act one, Hamlet curses that he has to be the one to avenge his father's death. Hamlet has never killed before and now must prepare to do so. There were many times when he had the oppourtunity to kill Claudius, but decided not to (such as when Claudius is praying for forgiveness). Hamlet had to wait until just the right moment to kill Claudius: haste would have been pure anger. Vengance has more of a purpose. Claudius was killed in front of everyone, stricken with the poisoned sword. Also, Claudius was forced to drink his own poison, undone by his own actions. That simple little fact made his death significant.

Posted by: Daniella Choynowski at September 18, 2007 12:37 AM

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)