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Hamlet: A tragedy of the Renaissance mind. An example of a close reading and textual integrity. Central idea. Hamlet is presented as a celebration of the Renaissance mind. The mind was seen as a medium for philosophical understanding of the world and humanity.

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hamlet a tragedy of the renaissance mind

Hamlet: A tragedy of the Renaissance mind

An example of a close reading and textual integrity

central idea
Central idea
  • Hamlet is presented as a celebration of the Renaissance mind. The mind was seen as a medium for philosophical understanding of the world and humanity.
  • At the same time, Shakespeare created essential ambiguity around Hamlet’s strength of mind- he thinks too much, he is suicidal, and he is threatened with madness.
central idea1
Central idea
  • Focus in the play is on the mind and inner experience. This includes extreme states of mind, imagination and intense feeling, intense meditation and speculation; a mind in crisis, conflict, contradiction and debate about choices of action in extreme circumstances.
the first view of hamlet
The first view of Hamlet
  • First long speech stresses intense inner experience, “I have that within...” This establishes Hamlet’s identity and role.
  • His first conversation stresses that he is articulate and eloquent with a poetic imagination. “A little more than kin and less than kind” establishes Hamlet’s quickness of mind. Note the poetic eloquence “the fruitful river of the eye” and the patterned rhetoric .The connection and contrasts between the inner world and the outer world of action become a main theme.
the first view of hamlet1
The first view of Hamlet
  • Do we see Hamlet’s intense feelings as excessive? Shakespeare positions us to respond ambiguously to Hamlet through Claudius’ suggestion that it is “unmanly grief”.
  • “O that this too too solid flesh” Hamlet begins with a philosophical meditation about suicide and the nature of the world (extended metaphor of the unweeded garden) . The understanding of his father, Claudius and his mother is structured in terms of classical mythology. These references place Hamlet and his issues in relation to the Renaissance vision of the world.
hamlet s first soliloquy
Hamlet’s first soliloquy
  • Emphasis on intense feeling and an extreme state of mind through repetitive exclamations that include ‘O God, God’ , ‘Fie on’t, ah fie’. Note the heavy use of exclamation and the stages of disrupted, broken thought and feeling. Hamlet ends heartbroken, stressing the focus on Hamlet’s inner condition and adds to the ambiguity
the rest of 1 2
The rest of 1.2
  • Hamlet a student of Wittenberg and also a prince, set apart even by his friends as “my lord” by his “poor servant” Horatio. He responds with restraint in public to the news of the apparition, adding to the conflict between his inner identity and his identity as a man of action.
development of the tragedy of the mind
Development of the tragedy of the mind
  • Horatio says that Hamlet “waxes desperate with imagination”
  • Act 2- continues Hamlet’s interest about philosophy about the meaning of life.

”for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so”

“What is this quintessence of dust?” speech

to be or not to be
“To be or not to be”
  • Series of philosophical questions about the mind, the meaning and nature of life and action. Mind both stops action and provides strategies for action (sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought).
  • In Act 4, Hamlet asks himself whether he has been thinking too much (“too precisely on the event”)