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An In Depth Analysis Of The Recognition Of Hamlet.

1650 words - 7 pages

Hamlet's Philosophical Recognition As a prominent Elizabethan dramatist, Shakespeare authored many tragedies. Most of such works follow a rather obvious tragic guideline, with an easily distinguishable tragic hero and his equally apparent tragic flaw. Macbeth, for example, very evidently presents its main character as the tragic hero and identifies his tragic flaw repeatedly through both action and dialogue. Macbeth's recognition is unmistakable as well. Some of Shakespeare's tragedies, however, are not so clear-cut. Some have heroes with extremely complex tragic flaws that must be identified through extensive analysis, and recognitions that occur within the character and not in his actions. An example of such obscurity is found in Hamlet, one of Shakespeare's most famous works. In this play, the conflict is complicated and largely internal. Hamlet's tragic flaw is rather ambiguous and deals with his own indecisiveness and disposition, especially in his view of the world. Thus, the nature of his recognition is very different from that of works like Macbeth. Hamlet's recognition is a philosophical one, made evident by his internal conflict in trying to understand death and the purpose of life and brought on by the events that follow his attempts at revenge. Following his recognition, Hamlet is no longer melancholy, cynical, nor frenetic, but possesses a new, calm determination.Hamlet's recognition occurs almost entirely internally and is philosophic in nature, dealing especially with ethics and the meaning of life. He is first seen probing such matters in the second act while addressing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. He contemplates the worth and purpose of man in saying, "What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?" ( II ii 299-304). Hamlet tells the bumbling pair that even though humans are so intelligent and capable of so many things, they seem to be nothing more than dust to him. This reflects his attitude and viewpoint towards life: that it is completely meaningless. Hamlet raises many philosophical questions in his soliloquies as he tries to deal with the conflict of the play. In perhaps some of the most famous lines from the play, Hamlet asks himself, "To be or not to be? That is the question - / Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, / Or to take arms against a sea of troubles / And by opposing, end them?" (III i 57-60). Not only is Hamlet asking himself, "Is it better to live or die?", but he is also asking if a passive or an active approach to life is better. This questioning shows Hamlet trying to confront a part of his tragic flaw, which is his passive, equivocating, and fearful approach to conflict in his life. Wholly, his flaw is his inability to find a middle ground both in his approach to and his...

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