What conclusion does Hamlet reach, or what does Hamlet realize, over the course of this speech?
Hamlet. … How all occasions do inform against me And spur my dull revenge! What is a man If his chief good and market of his time Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.Sure he that made us with such large discourse, Looking before and after, gave us not That capability and godlike reason To fust in us unused. Now, whether it be Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple Of thinking too precisely on th' event— A thought which, quartered, hath but one part wisdom And ever three parts coward—I do not know Why yet I live to say, “This thing's to do,” Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means To do 't. Examples gross as earth exhort me.Witness this army of such mass and charge,Led by a delicate and tender prince,Whose spirit, with divine ambition puffed,Makes mouths at the invisible event,Exposing what is mortal and unsure To all that fortune, death, and danger dare,Even for an eggshell. Rightly to be great Is not to stir without great argument,But greatly to find quarrel in a straw When honor's at the stake. How stand I then, That have a father killed, a mother stained, Excitements of my reason and my blood, And let all sleep, while to my shame I see The imminent death of twenty thousand men That for a fantasy and trick of fame Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause, Which is not tomb enough and continent To hide the slain? O, from this time forth, My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!
1 Answer | Add Yours
Hamlet is still wondering why he has been procrastinating about doing what he knows is his duty, which is to assassinate Claudius and avenge his father's murder. Shakespeare seems to be taking great pains to emphasize that this is the main problem of the play, but he does not offer any definite answer. Therefore, critics have been speculating and debating for centuries about the so-called Hamlet Problem. The fact that Hamlet ends his soliloquy in Act 4, Scene 4 with the words, "O, from this time forth, / My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!" is not convincing. He may have another opportunity to kill Claudius, as he had when he found the King alone and praying, and he may find some reason or reasons for failing to act. Characteristically, he only acts impulsively, when he doesn't have time to think. But thinking is his normal mode. It has been reinforced by many years of deep, solitary study at Wittenberg.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge writes in his "Hamlet Essay":
Hence we see a great, an almost enormous, intellectual activity, and a proportionate aversion to real action, consequent upon it, with all its symptoms and accompanying qualities.
Carl Jung, the famous psychiatrist and colleague of Sigmund Freud, identified two psychological modes or "attitudes," for which he coined the terms introversion and extraversion, and four conscious "functions," which are thinking, intuition, sensation and feeling. Hamlet is quite obviously an introvert, and the conscious function he favors (as Coleridge would agree) is thinking. Jung states repeatedly in his book Psychological Typesthat thinking requires the suppression of feeling, just as feeling requires the suppression of thinking. Killing Claudius--or killing anybody--would require a feeling of rage, and Hamlet cannot feel that rage if he begins to think along the lines that are represented by all his compulssive and convoluted soliloquies.
We’ve answered 317,391 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question