A Passage From Hamlet Essay Research Paper

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A Passage From Hamlet Essay, Research Paper Formal Critical Analysis of a Passage from Hamlet Hamlet is probably the best known and most popular play of William Shakespeare, and it is natural for any person to question what makes Hamlet a great tragedy and why it receives such praises. The answer is in fact simple; it effectively arouses pity and fear in the audiences’ mind. The audience feels pity when they see a noble character experiencing a regrettable downfall because of his innate tragic flaw, and they fear that the same thing might happen to them. Hamlet’s speech (III, iv, 139-180) contributes to producing this feeling of pity and fear. First it explains the thought with particular emotional effectiveness. Second it conveys Hamlet’s character, both virtue and

tragic fear. Lastly, it marks the beginning of the tragic discovery and Hamlet’s downfall, answering the question “why does Hamlet delay?” Observing the beginning of Hamlet’s downfall and tragic discovery in this passage, which happens despite his many virtues, maximizes the pity and fear at the same time. The first contribution is that this passage conveys Hamlet’s thoughts with poetic and emotional effectiveness. Hamlet denies his madness and urges Gertrude not to make his madness an excuse for her faults. He asserts that excuses would only cover the superficial faults and the soul would be corrupted deep within. He further asks Gertrude not to commit any more sins that make past faults even worse and to confess herself to heaven. After all, Hamlet sarcastically begs

her pardon for his reproach. Hamlet explains that during the extremely rotten time, Hamlet, who is good and of virtue, must beg pardon to and get permission from Gertrude, who represents vice by committing many sins, to do good things such as urging her to repent. As a method for salvation, Hamlet asks her not to go to Claudius’ bed. Then he apologizes for the death of Polonius and admits his own fault. However, he insists that Polonius and he both are punished because God has made him the agent to punish Polonius with him and him with Polonius. He takes the responsibility, and explains Gertrude that he is cruel only to be kind to her and warns that worse things are yet to come. Through out the passage, imageries are used to add poetic emotion to Hamlet’s thought. One example

is “unction” in Hamlet’s speech “Lay not that flattering unction to your soul…It will but skin and film the ulcerous place whiles rank corruption, mining all within, infects unseen.” (III, iv, 145) This is a metaphor; flattering unction on soul designates an excuse for her past faults. Unction is scab that only covers the superficial wounds; inside the body the wounds would not heel but infect the flesh and cause more serious damage. Here, making excuses would be same as putting unction on the ulcerous place on skin. Making excuses would only cover the past faults; it does not correct them but only bring more pain in the future. Hamlet is warning that if Gertrude tries to make an excuse for her past faults, her inner soul would corrupt and suffer more pain later. This

metaphor not only conveys Hamlet’s thought but also adds more emotion to the speech, arousing fear in the audience’s mind for many ordinary people do tend to make excuses for their mistakes. There is a similar metaphor in the passage just few lines below; “And do not spread the compost on the weeds to make them ranker.” (III, iv, 152) The compost designates more faults that Gertrude may commit if she does not repent, and the weeds means the past sins. What Hamlet means in this line is that Gertrude should not commit any more sins because more sins would worsen the past faults. Composts are fertilizers, which in the days of Shakespeare probably made of excrements. Here is a brilliant poetic comparison; compost, which is made of excrements, equals to Gertrude’s faults.