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Hamlet's struggle to restore honor and certaintyWhat ideas developed by Shakespeare...

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escreality | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 6, 2011 at 7:30 PM via web

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Hamlet's struggle to restore honor and certainty

What ideas developed by Shakespeare address the ways in which Hamlet struggles to restore honor and certainty?

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 6, 2011 at 7:59 PM (Answer #2)

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One of Shakespeare's themes in the play is the idea of "action vs. inaction."  If you review the "To be or not to be" soliloquy you can see how Shakespeare develops this theme.  In it, Hamlet opens the speech with a question:  is it "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."  This question directly relates to Hamlet's struggle to take action against Claudius and therefore restore order or honor to the state of Denmark.  Hamlet is struggling to decide if it would be better to suffer through the troubles, or to fight against what seems to insurmountable odds in the hopes of ending the troubles.  Hamlet goes on the rationalize his inaction by recognizing that "conscience does make cowards of us all" and that "resolution" falls apart "with the pale cast of thought."  Hamlet struggles with his thinking about what to do -- perhaps over-thinking it too much.  In the end, Hamlet can act when he stops thinking so much and lets himself relax in the knowledge that all can really do is be ready -- he even says "the readiness is all."

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view | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 6, 2011 at 8:24 PM (Answer #3)

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In fact,Hamlet did not really seek the restoration of honour for the murder of his father, the late King Hamlet. Critics said, that Hamlet's hesitation to seek retributive justice is a proof that he did not care about his father at all, for he had Oedipus complex . According to the  neurologist Sigmund Freud's Psycho-analytical theory, Hamlet is a psycho patient. He admires his mother Gertrude as a woman, so he gets jealous of his father. He, in fact, hates the latter and wishes to kill him.  Since his father is already dead, Hamlet focuses on Claudius,who had married his mother. So, he tested Claudius through the play he had ordered the tragedians to perform at the court, which was called "The Murder of Gonzago". In addition, Hamlet had feigned madness to find all the truth he wanted.

Briefly, the theme of artifice was Hamlet's way to achieve his aim. His artificiality includes his feigned madness and witty speeches.

  

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 12, 2011 at 8:35 PM (Answer #4)

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I agree that Hamlet's primary goal is not to do as your question states--to restore honor and certainty. In fact, it seems fairly certain he has one goal which motivates everything else he does throughout the play: he seeks to avenge his father's death. It is ancillary to that goal that order will come from the chaos of this usurped, "rotten" kingdom and honor will again be restored (to Hamlet, presumably, as he is the only real character who suffers a dishonor that can be restored).

Lori Steinbach

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savysenza | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 18, 2011 at 6:49 PM (Answer #5)

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One of Shakespeare's themes in the play is the idea of "action vs. inaction."  If you review the "To be or not to be" soliloquy you can see how Shakespeare develops this theme.  In it, Hamlet opens the speech with a question:  is it "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."  This question directly relates to Hamlet's struggle to take action against Claudius and therefore restore order or honor to the state of Denmark.  Hamlet is struggling to decide if it would be better to suffer through the troubles, or to fight against what seems to insurmountable odds in the hopes of ending the troubles.  Hamlet goes on the rationalize his inaction by recognizing that "conscience does make cowards of us all" and that "resolution" falls apart "with the pale cast of thought."  Hamlet struggles with his thinking about what to do -- perhaps over-thinking it too much.  In the end, Hamlet can act when he stops thinking so much and lets himself relax in the knowledge that all can really do is be ready -- he even says "the readiness is all."

well my teacher was explaining this quote and he said that that line means hamlet was debating suicide or to live. we actually have this topic to write on tomorrow in class and i dont know what to do

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 18, 2011 at 8:37 PM (Answer #6)

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I think that suicide is part of the meaning of the line, but not the entire meaning of the line.  If you look at the punctuation of the first line he says, "To be or not to be, that is the question:"  Obviously to be or not to be means to exist or not to exist, but the line ends in a colon (at least in favorite edition).  That colon means "let me explain what I mean."  In the next lines he mentions what I wrote of in the earlier post.  The entire speech does talk about death -- you can site reference to sleep as death, the "shuffling of the mortal coil," and the mention of ending all of the troubles of life with a "bare bodkin."  But in the end, I think the speech is about more than just suicide. You will write best if you write about what you absolutely understand for yourself about this speech.  Don't try to make my comments into an essay if you don't feel good about it or don't see how you can support your analysis. 

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johncena1 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 19, 2011 at 9:22 PM (Answer #7)

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