In Act 1 of "Hamlet," why doesn't Hamlet listen to Claudius's advice on giving up grieving for his dead father?(I.ii.93-94) lines 87-117

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Interestingly, Hamlet gives his reasons for not listening to Claudius's impassioned speech about giving up his grief for his dead father before Claudius delivers it, showing that Claudius is oblivious to what Hamlet is trying to communicate. Claudius, tone deaf, completely misses what Hamlet says.

When Gertrude asks Hamlet why the grief "seems it so particular with thee," meaning "Why do you seem to be suffering so acutely?" Hamlet tells her,

"it is; I know not 'seems.' "

He goes to explain that it not the outward manifestations of grief that matter—the tears, the sad face, the gasping breaths, the dark clothing—as anyone can pretend to these, or as Hamlet puts it, "These [are] but the trappings and the suits of woe." He says that he has inside himself a very deep grief "which passeth show." He can't, in other words, even express through tears and sighs and dark clothes how sad and heartbroken he is at his father's death. What he is feeling is not something that he can control or turn on and off at will.

Claudius ignores all that and tells Hamlet he is stubborn, unmanly, and absurd to feel this grief; after all, everyone dies at some time or other, and Hamlet has people around who love him and and is in line for the throne—he should stop being a buzzkill and cheer up!

The two are clearly not connecting. 

What is interesting about this scene is that it establishes that Hamlet and Claudius were at odds even before Hamlet's encounter with the ghost.

ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hamlet is angry over the fact that so little time has passed between his father's death and Claudius' marriage to his mother. In Elizabethan times when the play was written, the marriage of a wife to her brother-in-law would have been considered incest. Given those realities, Claudius has no credibility with Hamlet. In addition, it really has been too short a time for Hamlet to come out of mourning. The implication in Claudius' advice is that Hamlet should just "Snap out of it". However, one simply does not just "snap out of" mourning. People deal with it in different ways. What is interesting is that when Gertrude asks him to stay at Elisinore, Hamlet replies, "I will obey you, Mother." In other words, he is not about to accept Claudius as a father, but he will still obey his mother, even though she has just married Claudius.

kimlink34 | Student

Hamlet also feels deceived by his mother.... He had no idea that his mother was unfaithful to his father.  He feels everything he's ever known is false..... He is also amazed that he's still mourning his father and his mother has moved on and appears to be completely happy with the living arrangements.

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