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In one of Shakespeare's tragedies, Hamlet, Hamlet's obsession with perfection in love and sexuality ultimately leads to his destruction.

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Introduction

Daniel Lim Mr. Harville Period 6 English 3 Honors In one of Shakespeare's tragedies, Hamlet, Hamlet's obsession with perfection in love and sexuality ultimately leads to his destruction. A perfectionist is a person that finds displeasure in anything that does not meet very high standards. By this definition, a perfectionist is truly not a person seeking perfection but rather a person who is constantly finding faults. Tom Robbins once said, "The bottom line is that people are never perfect, but love can be" (Wisdom Quotes). Although this may be true for some people, for other people love is a continuous cycle of turmoil. One renowned playwright, William Shakespeare, successfully portrays this turmoil in all of his tragedies. In Hamlet, one of Shakespeare's tragedies, Hamlet's obsession with perfection in love and sexuality ultimately leads to his destruction. First, Hamlet's realization of his sexual incapacity fuels his personal crusade for a virtuous atmosphere. In his first soliloquy, Hamlet curses, "How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable / Seem all the uses of this world" (I.ii.133-134). Hamlet's anger stems from his impotence as demonstrated by his description of his sexual organ as "weary, stale, [and] flat" (I.ii.133). This inability to sexually interact with women not only results into a constant animosity for his incestuous surroundings, but it also arouses thoughts of "self-slaughter" (I.ii.132). After hearing his father's apparition enfold the events that lead to "his foul and most unnatural murder" (I.v.25), the sinful relationship between Claudius and Gertrude leads to an increase in Hamlet's contempt for his environs. Hamlet reveals his malice through the portrayal of Gertrude as a "most pernicious woman!" (I.v.105) and of Claudius as a "smiling, damned villain!" (I.v.106). This resentment arises from the political motives and lack of true love between Claudius and Gertrude as illustrated by Terri Mategrano's inference that Gertrude's reluctance to retire from society motivated her decision to remarry (13) and through Claudius's words: "Of those effects for which I did the murder, / My crown, mine own ambition" (III.iii.55-56). ...read more.

Middle

Therefore, Hamlet acts accordingly to his new feelings by affirming to Gertrude "O! throw away the worser part of it, / And live the purer with the other half. / Good night; but go not to mine uncle's bad" (III.iv.157-159). Hamlet attempts to undo the licentious love between Gertrude and Claudius by asking her to abandon him in order to "assume a virtue" (III.iv.160). Though Hamlet fails with his endeavor to create a utopian setting, his new understanding of love serves as a template for a mission in helping others. In addition, Hamlet uses his enlightenment in love to preach to Ophelia the values of chastity. For example, Hamlet says to Ophelia, "For virtue / Cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of / It: I loved you not" (III.i.117-119) and later advising her to "get thee to a / Nunnery, go; farewell" (III.i.138-139). While it may seem as if Hamlet is denouncing his love for Ophelia, Hamlet's true intentions completely rely on warning Ophelia of iniquitous love. The words "Get thee to a / Nunnery" that Hamlet uses to show his disinterest with Ophelia also serves as advice that becoming a nun is the only way to be "as chaste as ice" (III.i.137) and free from culpable love. Hamlet acts out of sincere love for Ophelia by disregarding his love for her because he feels that their love might lead to an unscrupulous love as expressed by "why wouldst thou / be a breeder of sinners?" (III.i.122). While Hamlet's intentions are valorous, his abnegation of love to Ophelia conclusively results in first her madness shown by Laertes observation that Ophelia is a "document in madness" (IV.v.178), and later her death. Although Hamlet tries to protect Ophelia, his admonition about chastity and love ironically leads to her death. Finally, Hamlet expels his feminine surroundings by assuming a stronger masculine identity in order to dismiss any confusion with his sexuality. ...read more.

Conclusion

This new affinity for manhood stems from Claudius's accusation of Hamlet as "unmanly" (I.i.94) and his role in emasculating King Hamlet. In recounting the scene of his death, the Ghost explains that "the serpent that did sting thy father's life / Now wears his crown" (I.v.39-40). Claudius strips King Hamlet of his masculinity by taking the crown, which represents "both his kingship and his genitalia" (Stone). Hence, when the ghost asks for "revenge" (I.v.25) and to "remember" (I.v.91) him, Hamlet assumes the role of an obedient son seeking revenge for his "feminized father" (Stone). This overshadowing femininity from his father leads to Hamlet's confusion between the sexual identity of males and females as demonstrated by his reply "Farewell, dear mother" (IV.iii.51) to his uncle. Therefore, Hamlet embarks on a mission for "manly revenge" (Stone) not only to avenge his father's death to cease the overshadowing femininity in his father's apparition, but also to free himself from any sexual confusion by killing Claudius, who "wears the sexually ambiguous crown" (Stone). He manifests his masculinity by killing, a traditionally masculine act. Hamlet's new volatile nature for vengeance leads to the accidental death of Polonius, and Gertrude illustrates his irrationality through her reasoning, "What a rash and bloody deed is this!" (III.iv.26). As a result, Polonius's death triggers a reaction similar to an Anglo-Saxon term called wer-gild, where the motivation of retribution leads to constant hostilities. Thus, Hamlet's desire for a defining masculine identity leads to the tragedy of numerous casualties. In Hamlet, William Shakespeare shows Hamlet's obsession with perfection in love and sexuality as his ultimate destruction. While Hamlet is one play of many Shakespearean tragedies, three other types of plays exist, which are commonly known as comedies, histories, and romances. The themes in his plays that he uses to appease his audience have also had the ability to satisfy the needs of people from present times. This general attraction has led to Shakespeare's recognition that travels all over the world and through time. Hence, for these reasons, many critics claim that William Shakespeare is the best writer. ...read more.

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