The Hamlet Problem: Why the Delay
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Greg then advances his theory that although Hamlet did see something appear, he hallucinated the conversations. Greg's theory is intriguing, but most critics do not accept it, and the controversy is thus unresolved. Why did Shakespeare have a dumb show? There seems to be no textual evidence suggesting that Claudius is distracted by Polonius or anyone else. We must presume he witnessed the entire show. If so, his alternative would then be to stop immediately the performance and exit, or do absolutely nothing and continue to watch, which a hardened criminal might well do, steeled against exposure. He does not order the performance terminated.
The second manner in which the player's speech mirrors action concerns fortune and fate. Surely Hamlet wonders why his mother fails to demonstrate Hecuba's faithfulness, so he asks what she knew and when? Has fate simply arranged destiny? Someone of Hamlet's dynamic intelligence would find the prospect revolting, and he does, The player's speech contains several references to the capriciousness of fortune. Priam's death so outrages the macrocosmic that the gods are asked to dismantle their own instrument: "All of you gods / In general synod take away her power / Break all the spokes...from her wheel..." (II,ii, 489-491). Everyone knows that fortune in the Renaissance was personified as operating a great wheel to which humanity was affixed; she is also of course seen as a whore capriciously withholding her favours. A few lines later, however, such actions are considered treason. Fortune must operate in the world as God's instrument, and all must endure her punishments as Timon learns.
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This influence explains why today most biblical concordances and dictionaries (such as the 1979 version of Strong's Comprehensive Concordance of the Bible) refer to their Hebrew sections as a "Concordance of Hebrew and Chaldean," a "Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary," or a "Hebrew and Aramaic Dictionary." Christ will still be using some Aramaic terms 400 years later in the New Testament gospels, which show how influential and long-lasting the linguistic effects of the Exile were on the Hebrew vocabulary.
Teachers often point to Spenser's use of words like gentil and tobraken, or Shakespeare's use of abysm and climature, or Emily Dickinson's use of thee and thine. When they ask students, "why did this poet write in such a way?" students often mistakenly reply, "Because that's the way people talked back then." On the contrary, in the 1500s, Spenser is resurrecting language that was common in Chaucer's day in the 1300s--not the language of his own time.
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Macbeth: Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more:
By Sinel's death I know I am thane of Glamis;
But how of Cawdor? the thane of Cawdor lives,
A prosperous gentleman; and to be king
Stands not within the prospect of belief,
No more than to be Cawdor. Say from whence
You owe this strange intelligence? or why
Upon this blasted heath you stop our way
With such prophetic greeting? Speak, I charge you
Such evidence of doubt culminates when Hamlet declares This is why Hamlet disconnects the surveillance unit, in order to free himself briefly from the ghost's control.
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Five Classic Reasons for Hamlet's Delay - Shakespeare …
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Shakespeare Resource Center - Line Analysis: Hamlet
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...I have of late--but
wherefore I know not--lost all my mirth, forgone all
custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily
with my disposition that this goodly frame, the
earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most
excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave
o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted
with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to
me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.
What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me,
what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not
me: no, nor woman neither,
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Hamlet bitterly accosts her: "...the power of a beauty will sooner trans- / form honesty form what it is to a bawd than the / force of honesty can translate beauty into his like- / ness." Even her chastity is questioned: "Are you honest?...Go thy ways to a nunnery." (III,i,111-130). Hamlet paradoxically does love Ophelia but focuses his soul's anguish not so much or her as an individual, but as a personification of the disillusionment of his ideals. In the lines, here is more than a trace of self-pity, attributable to the anger of shattered idealism. Thus he almost enjoys tormenting Ophelia over whom he wishes to exercises complete control to hopefully redeem her. The suffering inflicted can only be measured by the suffering inflicted on him by Gertrude. If his mother can be a "whore," then all women must be the same, at least potentially. If Ophelia ended their relationship and if her mad songs imply they had slept together, than what else can he conclude? This reasoning may lack logic, but logic and truth are not the same. It does ring true emotionally. Hamlet uses her love for him against her, and in the process generalizes his own condition, thereby illustrating why he could be king "of infinite space". Like an animal, then, he is "...crawling between / earth and heaven," (III,i,128-129), another instance of the play's entrapment motif for which the ghost is responsible."
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If we are so quick to see Hamlet's tragedy as a terrible waste of what may have been, a tragedy of unfulfilled potential, why may be not see Ophelia in the same light. Her assessment of Hamlet under these circumstances cannot be so easily dismissed as the whimpering of a "green girl" too unenlightened to evaluate Hamlet. Clearly then there is a double standard: men like Lear are admired for contending with adversities of their own making that drive them mad; while women driven mad by men who will not allow them any freedom of expression are seen as weak. Thus the reality of the terror Ophelia endures is imposed by men who force her to become that which was not meant to be.
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In this essay, I will look at key moments in the play where Desdemona is presented as a tragic victim by the writer and justify why she is a tragic victim using quotes from the play....
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