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Discussing Hamlets desire for vengeance.

Extracts from this document...


INSTITUTO SUPERIOR DE PROFESORADO N�4 "�NGEL C�RCANO" William Shakespeare's Hamlet Marega, Paola British Literature III Lic. Raquel Varela June 16, 2009 HAMLET O my prophetic soul! My uncle? GHOST Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast, With witchcraft of his witS, with traitorous gifts - O wicked wit and gifts that have the power So to seduce - won to his shameful lust The will of my most seeming virtuous queen. O Hamlet, what a falling off was there, From me whose love was of that dignity That it went hand in hand even with the vow I made to her in marriage, and to decline Upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor To those of mine. But virtue as it never will be moved, Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven, So lust, though to a radiant angel linked, Will sate itself in a celestial bed, And prey on garbage. But soft, methinks I scent the morning air; Brief let me be. Sleeping within my orchard, My custom always of the afternoon, Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole, With juice of curs�d hebenon in a vial, And in the porches of my ears did pour The leperous distilment, whose effect Holds such an enmity with blood of man That swift as quicksilver it courses through The natural gates and alleys of the body, And with a sudden vigour it doth posset And curd, like eager droppings into milk, The thin and wholesome blood. So did it mine, And a most instant tetter barked about, Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust, All my smooth body. Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand, Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatched: Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin, Unhouseled, disappointed, unaneled; No reckoning made, but sent to my account With all my imperfections on my head - Oh horrible, oh horrible, most horrible! ...read more.


or when he relates the effect the poison had on his blood to that of 'eager droppings into milk'. These associations stir the audience's imagination and deepen the feeling of horror depicted by the description of the murder, since "the Elizabethans strongly condemned poisoning, and viewed it as an especially despicable and cowardly thing to do" (Jordan, J. P., 2006: 36). Additionally, the extract is full of metaphors and allusions. To begin with, the fact that old King Hamlet was murdered by his brother while sleeping in the orchard conjures up the image of gardens, traditionally associated with the Garden of Eden. The metaphor here represents the fact that Denmark, which was like Eden under old King Hamlet, has now fallen apart under King Claudius (Smith, J. N., 2000: 48), who symbolises the malicious serpent which tempted Eve (Gertrude) and stole her innocence. Moreover, according to Coombs (2009: 5), the killing of a brother would have reminded Shakespeare's audience of another biblical story, that of Cain and Abel. Following, Shakespeare uses the image of the ear being poisoned, both literally and metaphorically, as a wonderful metaphor for lying, and to indicate that words are like weapons or daggers, which poison the ear and have the power to manipulate and destroy (Smith, N., 2008: 50). Furthermore, strong images of decay and disease are suggested in the extract through the use of the words 'leperous', 'posset', 'curd', 'tetter' and 'lazar-like'. At the same time, they convey a sense of corruption and sin spreading through Denmark at the hands of Claudius, who corrupts others -especially the Queen (Delaney, I., 1999: 15). In addition, related to the field of accountancy are the words 'reckoning' and 'account', which create another metaphor, meaning that the ghost died "in debt" -in the religious sense- for his sins (Jordan, J. P., 2006: 37). Finally, another figure of speech is found in Hamlet's soliloquy when he refers to his troubled mind as a 'distracted globe' -though it is believed that the word 'globe' ...read more.


However, language and props were all important in establishing these conditions. Nowadays, with the help of special effects, it is much easier to achieve that. Nevertheless, for the modern director, the ghost still presents challenges, due to the fact that "Elizabethan audiences were more religious and the idea of both Heaven and Hell were perhaps more real than they are to us today" (Symon, R., 2009: 57). Very few members of a modern audience will believe in ghosts in the same way, given that we have a different view of ghosts, devils, and the supernatural in general. Anyway, as Johnston (2001: 30) declares, "this does not stop artists from using them very successfully in fiction or the audience from entering fully into the world of that fiction". This is what happens with Hamlet even today. Hamlet's soliloquy is also a very important dramatic element in the extract, since it offers an effective way for the dramatist to divulge a character's inner thoughts and feelings. Besides, the Shakespearean audience would approve of this theatrical practice very much because they liked a close relationship between audience and actor. However, nowadays, this technique is not widely used because, according to Bloomfield (2007: 34), the soliloquies are difficult to be performed on stage and seem unrealistic to modern audiences. To sum up, it can be stated that the extract is central to the play as a whole since, with the ghost's devastating revelation, Hamlet's desire for vengeance is motivated, spurring the action of the entire tragedy. In addition, it is in this passage where the audience is given the crucial facts of the play in general, giving insight into Hamlet's central themes -appearance versus reality, corruption, disease and decay, the supernatural, religion, among others. The ghost's words in this extract are of such paramount importance that they will direct the play from here on, "unsettl[ing] Hamlet's reason, warp[ing] his character and lead[ing] to his death as well as the wholesale destruction of the chief members of the court" (Brodwin, L., 1964: 129). ...read more.

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