What is Hamlet about?. Centuries of debate T. S. Eliot: “ Certainly an artistic failure ”. Hamlet. Good play for anyone having trouble figuring things out. Good play for anyone who isn ’ t having trouble figuring things out--yet. Renaissance version.
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What is Hamlet about?
Centuries of debate
T. S. Eliot: “Certainly an artistic failure”
Hamlet berates himself for doing nothing, even when motivated by a ghost, in comparison to the player whose emotions run away with him due to nothing but a fiction.
So he plans the Mousetrap.
. . . is an unweeded garden
That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely” (1.2.133)
The canker galls the infants of the spring
Too often before their buttons be disclosed,
And in the morn and liquid dew of youth
Contagious blastments are most imminent”
So, oft it chances in particular men,
That for some vicious mole of nature in them,
As, in their birth--wherein they are not guilty,
Since nature cannot choose his origin--
By the o'ergrowth of some complexion,
Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason,
Or by some habit that too much o'er-leavens
The form of plausive manners, that these men,
Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,
Being nature's livery, or fortune's star,--
Their virtues else--be they as pure as grace,
As infinite as man may undergo--
Shall in the general censure take corruption
From that particular fault: the dram of eale
Doth all the noble substance of a doubt
To his own scandal.(1.4.24)
And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed
That roots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,
Wouldst thou not stir in this. (1.5.33)
Hamlet (after the ghost charges him to murder):
The time is out of joint. Oh, cursed spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!
Fell into a sadness, then into a fast,
Thence to a watch, thence into a weakness,
Thence to a lightness, and by this declension
Into the madness wherein now he raves,
And we all mourn for. (2.2.147)
Hamlet: For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a good kissing carrion--Have you a daughter?
Polonius.: I have, my lord.
Hamlet: Let her not walk in the sun. Conception is a blessing, but as your daughter may conceive, friend, look to it.
Slanders, sir; for the satirical rogue says here that old men have gray beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum, and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams.
I have of late--but wherefore I know not--lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appeareth nothing to me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors.
Oh,my offense is rank! It smells to heaven.
Here is your husband, like a mildewed ear,
Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?
Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed
And batten on this moor? Ha, have you eyes?
You cannot call it love, for at your age
The heyday in the blood is tame, it’s humble,
And waits upon the judgment, and what judgment
Would step from this to this?
King Claudius blames himself that Hamlet killed Polonius (4.1.18):
It will be laid to us, whose providence
Should have kept short, restrained, and out of haunt
This mad young man. But so much was our love,
We would not understand what was most fit,
But, like the owner of a foul disease,
To keep it from divulging, let it feed
Even on the pith of life? Where is he gone?
Diseases desperate grown / By desperate appliance are relieved, / Or not at all (4.3.10).