Hamlet Blog Post #4

Ok, here's a question I'm trying to come up with an answer to. What point was Shakespeare trying to make when every major character in Hamlet ended up dead? Here's what I think(so far): Shakespeare killed everyone off to show that they were all flawed, to show that they were all just as messed up as Hamlet was. Yes, Hamlet is portrayed as obviously insane in the play, but what about everyone else? I think everyone dies because they were all crazy. Enough with discussing Hamlet, let's discuss what kind of guy I think Shakespeare used to be. Shakespeare was definitely the antisocial, society-hating, non-conformist kinda guy who had no faith in humanity and saw everyone as disgusting vessels of hatred, violence, etc. Although I really have no factual basis to support this argument, I still stand by it. The characters he's created demonstrate his complete lack of faith of the entire human race, at least in my opinion. Here's


Act 5, Scene 1:

There’s another. Why may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his quillities, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? Why does he suffer this rude knave now to knock him about the sconce with a dirty shovel and will not tell him of his action of battery? Hum! This fellow might be in ’s time a great buyer of land, with his statutes, his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers, his recoveries. Is this the fine of his fines and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt? Will his vouchers vouch him no more of his purchases, and double ones too, than the length and breadth of a pair of indentures? The very conveyances of his lands will hardly lie in this box, and must the inheritor himself have no more, ha?
In this excerpt^^, Hamlet considers death and the fact that in a way, death is a completely impersonal and unemotional thing. Hamlet grapples with the fact that when someone dies, it doesn't matter who or what they used to be because everyone ends up the same. Death is unavoidable, and even though Hamlet understands this fact, he doesn't want to except it.


So, who has the right to determine madness? In this case, nobody. I certainly don't. Of course I believe Hamlet is crazy, but I also believe that everyone is crazy...maybe that's the entire point of Hamlet? Honestly, I have no idea, but it's the best answer I can come up with given the one way ticket to crazy town that embodies the story of Hamlet.

Hamlet Blog Post #3

Guilt, Revenge, Murder, Insanity, etc.

In some of our latest readings, Hamlet caries out his plan to stage a play in front of King Claudius, proving once and for all that he is King Hamlet's murderer. Apparently, this plan works. After Hamlet sees Claudius' reaction to the play, he has his proof and is ready to do anything to seek revenge for his father.

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To be, or not to be? That is the question—Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to sufferThe slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,And, by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep—No more—and by a sleep to say we endThe heartache and the thousand natural shocksThat flesh is heir to—’tis a consummationDevoutly to be wished!
In this passage^^^, Hamlet grapples with the ups and downs of life. He asks himself what's better, life or death? Existence or not? Almost everything in this soliloquy represents either life or death. The "slings and arrows" represent a battle, the battle of life? Hamlet argues that with sleep (death), suffering is ended and life itself cannot cause anymore harm. As Hamlet discusses this ultimate question, it's hard not to wonder what he really wants. Life, or death? Hamlet seems to complain a lot about his life, but must carry out his goal of revenge before even thinking about giving in to death. So why consider it at this point?

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Also, throughout his supposed crazy spell, Hamlet doesn't really seem to consider Ophelia. If his insanity was fake, wouldn't he tip her off about it so she would continue to love him? When looking at the question who has the right to determine insanity through the lense of Hamlet and Ophelia's love, shouldn't Ophelia have this right, and shouldn't she know for sure that it's real because if it wasn't, she would certainly know? This is one reason why Hamlet's craziness seems real to me. If Hamlet and Ophelia's love is as true as it claims to be, Hamlet would not deceive Ophelia, something that he does throughout almost the entire story.

Hamlet Blog Post #2
Hamlet: The Chronicles of... Insanity?


I am thy father’s spirit,Doomed for a certain term to walk the nightAnd for the day confined to fast in fires,Till the foul crimes done in my days of natureAre burnt and purged away. But that I am forbidTo tell the secrets of my prison house,I could a tale unfold whose lightest wordWould harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,Thy knotted and combinèd locks to partAnd each particular hair to stand on end,Like quills upon the fearful porpentine.But this eternal blazon must not beTo ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!If thou didst ever thy dear father love—
O God!
Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.
Murder most foul, as in the best it is.But this most foul, strange and unnatural.
Haste me to know ’t, that I, with wings as swift as meditation or the thoughts of love,May sweep to my revenge.
I find thee apt,And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weedThat roots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear.'Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of DenmarkIs by a forgèd process of my deathRankly abused. But know, thou noble youth,The serpent that did sting thy father’s lifeNow wears his crown.
So... is Hamlet crazy or not?There are two options(at least in my mind) as of now. Either Hamlet just needed a reason to hate Claudius for taking over his father's life, hence the craziness, or he really did see his father's ghost. With Shakespeare, it's all about mystery. I think he intended to confuse the reader- to make them make up their own minds. In the passage above, Hamlet discovers the "real" way that his father was killed. It's so hard to distinguish Hamlet's experiences as crazed delusions or reality. The scene above makes it seem as though there really is a ghost, because the story itself seems way too complicated for Hamlet to fabricate just to get back at his uncle.
Hamlet (The Simpsons version):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1S8ixUzeSl8

Another question... is Queen Gertrude a conniving gold digger, or did she simply not love her husband? Queen Gertrude seems to play such a large part in Hamlet's life that I think the state of her emotions matters in determining the question of Hamlet's sanity. Queen Gertrude is Hamlet's mother, so if she really is just marrying again to gain money and power, wouldn't that reflect on Hamlet's reliability in the story as well? The way Hamlet was raised is a very important aspect to consider before deciding whether he's crazy or not. The only way to investigate the way he was raised is to analyze Queen Gertrude, something that is often looked past.

Who gets to decide the state of Hamlet's sanity? And how is it justified?
To me, everyone does. Hamlet is meant to make people think. As I troll the web looking for the honest truth about the character of Hamlet, all I come across are differing opinions. In the end, it's okay to form an opinion about the character of Hamlet, and any other character for that matter, but no one has the same thoughts. Each individual interprets the story's broad wording and ambiguous character motives differently. Some argue that Hamlet is inherently good; that he pretends to be crazy simply to cover up the fact that he's scheming to prove his uncle is his father's murderer. Others are adamant about Hamlet's insanity, claiming that the ghost was simply a hallucination, somehow justifying his useless quest for revenge. Whatever the case, Hamlet's character is full of confusion and mystery, leaving it up to the reader to decide the fate of the story.

Hamlet Blog Post #1
To comprehend, or not to comprehend: Shakespeare for Dummies

I am still trying to wrap my brain around the scandal-filled, action-packed storyline that is Hamlet. It's hard to imagine a world where things like this can actually happen. The story jumps from one excruciatingly horrible event to the next; the power-hungry uncle clamors to get to the top by wooing Hamlet's still grieving mother, Hamlet talks to his father's ghost, promising him revenge no matter what he has to do to get it, and so on and so forth. These things only occur in the opening scenes, raising the bar for the rest of the story to uphold, not to say this bar isn't met with death for almost every major character in the story. After extensive consideration of the story of Hamlet in its entirety, I have come to one basic conclusion so far: Hamlet's life basically sucks, and will continue to do so until he avenges his father's death.


I still don’t quite understand Hamlet’s motives. Yes, he wants revenge for his father, but will he ever stop? Ultimately, this quest for revenge leads to Hamlet’s demise. Was it really worth it? On the topic of motives, what possessed Hamlet's mother to marry her former brother-in-law? It seems to me that grief clouded her judgement, filling her with ideas of another love, another partner to share her life with and replace her former husband. Maybe Hamlet's mother knew all along that something was off with Claudius, but wanted so badly to pick up her life where it left off that she ignored her instincts, or maybe she was trying to ally herself with a powerful man to gain more prestige and status...I guess I'll never know.


I know Shakespeare is revered as the world’s best playwright and everything, but how does anyone understand his writing? I find a lot of Hamlet incomprehensible and continually turn to Sparknotes’ No Fear Shakespeare to translate the jumbles of words I consistenly cannot understand. Who really knows that “I do not set my life in a pin’s fee” translates to “I do not value my life one bit”? I certainly don’t. It'll take some time to get used to the wordy style of Shakespeare and fully appreciate his writing abilities. It’s nice to see people simplifying Shakespeare for the confused and lost student like me.

Hamlet in 60 seconds:

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