1. According to Braunmuller, Hamlet presents several “questions both common and insoluble.” Give an example, citing act, scene, and line numbers. Explain what is “common and insoluble” about the question.
One of the most well known examples of a question that is both common and insoluble within Hamlet is “To be, or not to be” (III.1.56) where he is contemplating the value of life. This question is common as many people think about the reason for life and if they have a specific purpose or simply to explore the realities of life. Many people also begin to think about the afterlife and what happens once someone dies. This is what makes this question common but it is insoluble because no ...view middle of the document...
Many people tend to over think, over analyze, and over complicate their situation which then leads them to further human error. When he goes to confront his mother in her chambers and hears someone behind the curtain he again overcomplicates his situation by immediately stabbing through the curtains rather than taking the extra few moments to ensure that it is Claudius. This complicates things as Hamlet has killed an innocent man. He could have avoided this by simply killing Claudius in act three scene three but decided against it as he believes that Claudius will go to heaven as he states in lines 73-75. Then when he finally does kill Claudius, Hamlet ends up dead as well which is rather ironic because he may not have died if he hadn’t lead himself through a labyrinth or human errors that eventually cause his death.
3. Arguably, King Lear also explores “the labyrinthine ironies of human purpose and human error.” Explain. Offer two pieces of textual evidence, citing act, scene, and line numbers.
King Lear also explores the ironies of human purpose and error through his hubris, which leads him to the ironic ending of madness in the storm. In act one scene one King Lear’s hubris is on full display when he tells his daughters that he will divide his kingdom up between them based on which ones praise him most through their expression of love for their father on lines 51-53. This is his human error because he ends up banishing the one daughter that truly loves him and placing the two that plan to use this power against him as we see later in the play. This ends up being a very ironic human error as it leads him out into the storm with no power or assets. While in the storm he eventually seems to go mad after realizing his wrongdoings in act three scene two lines 16-21. This roundabout way to realize where he allowed his hubris to become his downfall is extremely ironic as he thought he could do no wrong and that everyone loved him. His own family apparently despised him enough to place him in this situation, which shows how he ironically caused his own downfall.
4. According to Braunmuller, Hamlet is highly self-reflexive. Define the term and give two examples, citing act, scene, and line numbers.
Hamlet is highly self reflective throughout the play but two scenes where it is blatantly obvious are first when he is reflecting on his plan to force Claudius to give a reaction showing his guilt after The Mousetrap and then again when he is pondering life in his “To be, or not to be” soliloquy. When he beings to think about his actions he shows the self-reflection when he states, “Am I a coward? / Who calls me “villain”? Breaks my pate across? / Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face? / Tweaks me by the nose? Gives me the lie i' th' throat / As deep as to the lungs?” (II.2.510-514) In doing this he shows that he is questioning his moral decisions to entrap his uncle by using these actors. Then when giving his soliloquy that beings in act...