Thursday, May 8, 2014

Idle Thoughts -- I Wanna! I Wanna! I Wanna!

2) Discuss Hamlets soliloquy that ends Act 2 " O what a rouge and peasant slave am I...." Your response should summarize Hamlets words AND analyze how those words suggest the transformation Hamlet has began.

Hamlet, who is feeling torn with doubts and insecurities, is amazed at how an actor can pick up a part about a person was just a myth doesn't really even exist, never has existed, and develop real feeling and real meaning in these imaginary sufferings. Hamlet feels he can't develop real emotions in himself. Of course he is racked by too many contradictory emotions, but he is determined that only revenge is good enough.

Since the actor can do this with the character never truly existed why can't Hamlet do it for his beloved father whom he has recently lost?  He sees this is clear evidence of their something profoundly wrong with him. He ignores the skilled capacity and the training of the actor because he only wants to blame himself.

Hamlet's purpose is to punish himself, to drive himself to do a thing he doesn't really want to do, A thing he isn't even really certain he ought to do. And that is of course, to seek revenge. He is using the skill of the actor it evoking emotions as a jockey uses a whip to drive a horse. He wants to drive himself into doing something that he knows is really not a good idea.  On the other hand, he is torn enough within his own internal psychology that he wants to do it even as he rejects the act as foolish and self-destructive.

He hopes, by belittling himself, arouse himself to anger so that he will overcome those doubts.  In other words, he has actually made up his mind. He is going to seek revenge. He just needs to convince himself that it's a good idea or at least a necessity to do so. He is being disingenuous. He's lying to himself.

To accomplish this and he goes on to attack himself even more. He calls himself a slave, a mope, a dreamer, and an ass.  He even calls himself a coward.

When that doesn't work, he changes tactics to assault King Claudius to make him see more deserving of punishment.  The king is described as bloody, and bawdy, and a tyrant. Surely such a man deserves to be punished. This seems to convince Hamlet because he then decides to create a plot to test his conviction.  While it is absurd to imagine that the play would actually have any real value is evidence, he convinces himself that it will. Again, he's lying to himself.  It should be obvious already, that whatever the results are, Hamlet will decide that the case has been proven.

Hamlet himself is aware of this. He begins to express his doubts about the validity of the ghost. Clearly, a spirit has power to do many things and perhaps it's deceiving him.  Nevertheless, his need for taking some action leads him to decide that the plot will continue and he will, "catch the conscience of the king".  Again, what's clearly being caught here is the conscience of Hamlet. Although later we will find out the Claudius is guilty, Hamlet never does so. He only convinces himself on the basis of flimsy evidence and the word of the probably imaginary ghost.

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