Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Search for Meaning in Shakespeares Hamlet :: Shakespeare Hamlet Essays
Search for Meaning in Shakespeares hamletBut I will delve one yard below their minesAnd flip-flop them at the moon (3.4.208-10)What is real? This question, begged by humanity from day one, seems to grow in importance and urgency as the twenty-first century looms on the course ahead. When religion, culture, family, and meaning are all forced to play second fiddle to the almighty dollar, where do we bust for understanding? I think the answer is that we turn inward. After all, there must be something within the human animal to suggest a moral, or a message, or at least an explanation. Hamlet deals specifically with this introspection, this search for meaning. Prince Hamlets origination has come apart at the seams and he is desperately groping for some sort of guidance. He needs a foundation, a primary principle, an answer of even the smallest kind with which to build a coherent worldview. Unfortunately, Hamlets philosophical free-fall may be a result of his own inability to get together to a world outside of his own grief and confusion. He is adept and resourceful in the world of ideas, but flat-footed and indecisive in the world of actions. Whereas Shakespearean characters such as Hotspur and Coriolanus suffer from shortsightedness and rash judgements, Hamlet suffers broad abstract thoughts and paralyzing ambivalence. This may be why the play has been able to so stalwartly defend its V.I.P status in the Western cultural conscious. Any thinking modern citizen knows what it means to fit round ideals into square realities. Therefore, it makes sense for Hamlet, one of our world-class fictional figures, to have trouble matching his internal ideals to the external world. In his introduction to the Norton edition of the play, Stephen Greenblatt points out that Hamlet, seems to mark an epochal shift not yet in Shakespeares career but in Western drama. Greenblatt is referring to the dominance of Prince Hamlets psyche over all aspects of the plays perspective and mood. Hamlet transports its audience into the Princes mind and forces them to look at the world from the inside out. The view is startling. It is the source of the plays unanswered questions and thought provoking ambiguities. Shakespeare lets us see the world through the eyes of a man try to decide whether any of it even matters.