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A Razor Sharp Tongue

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Introduction

A Razor-Sharp Tongue The utilization of spoken language at the hands of a skilled manipulator of words can inflict unexpected harm upon one's enemies. It can destroy good intentions; demoralize the opposition and spread fanaticism to others. Such a theme of cruel or manipulative words as a kind of poison is inherent within Shakespeare's tragedy "Hamlet". The play reflects upon the downfall of Hamlet, caused by the grief over his father's death and his disgust towards the incestuous relations of his mother and uncle. These two factors culminate to form a complex vehemence within Hamlet, which subsequently leads him to lash out against those close to him. Hamlet uses words as metaphorical "daggers" both as a tool to attain his wishes, as well as an emotional response to his grief, respectively directed towards Claudius and Gertrude. Hamlet's antagonism towards Claudius manifests itself into violent language meant to draw out Claudius' guilt. One of these moments in the tragedy is the performance Hamlet presents to Claudius. Hamlet intentionally produces a speech within the play to confound the audience and extract Claudius' guilt . ...read more.

Middle

Within a month.../ O most wicked speed! To post/ With such dexterity to incestuous sheets... (I. ii 150-157). Hamlet's disappointment is made abundantly clear. His feelings over his mother's quick marriage have left him in a state of utter despair, which eventually stems into anger and frustration at his mother. In reference to speaking with his mother, Hamlet states "Let me be cruel, not unnatural:/ I will speak daggers to her but use none./ My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites" (III. ii 386-389). From the use of the word hypocrite, Hamlet alludes that he wishes to cause his mother physical harm, though he decides to use restraint and use "daggers" solely in the form of words. Hamlet confronts his mother in act three where the following exchange takes place: "'Now, mother, what's the matter?'/ 'Hamlet thou hast thy father offended./' 'Mother you have my father much offended./' 'Come, come you answer with an idle tongue./' 'Come, come you answer with a wicked tongue.'" (III. iv 7-11). This exchange reveals Hamlet's heated anger and resentment towards his mother for her actions, a direct response to his grief. ...read more.

Conclusion

Thus, through the advice of the ghost of King Hamlet, Prince Hamlet takes up the task of slaying Claudius and drawing out the guilt of his mother through his fierce intellect and control of language. Hamlet uses his ability to manipulate language to reveal Claudius' guilt and to cause his mother grief for her sins against her dead husband. He manipulates lines in the play he presents to Claudius to recreate his father's murder, a clever and successful attempt to ascertain Claudius' guilt. Additionally, he uses sharp and cruel words to cause his mother intense compunction of her wrongdoing. Both of these actions are commanded unto Hamlet by his father's ghost who entreats Hamlet to avenge his death and in doing so, cause his mother to feel culpable. By the conclusion of the play, Hamlet succeeds in his father's wishes by slaying Claudius to avenge his father, while simultaneously causing his mother to feel guilty over her incestuous relations. Thus, Hamlet succeeds in ascertaining his father's wishes through his skill in manipulation, and the utilization of a sharp and witty tongue. Therefore, Shakespeare uses Hamlet's utilization of words as "daggers" as a testament to the power of words, and the unknown possibilities of those who possess eloquence and rational. ...read more.

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