Hamlet’s Contemplative Nature

Shakespeare Unlimited

Hazlitt remarks that Hamlet is, “Wrapped up in his reflections, and only thinks aloud.” The reason Hamlet speaks is that so we as members of the audience can hear his thoughts. He doesn’t speak chiefly to communicate with other characters but to share his contemplations with us as spectators. Hamlet holds the theatre dear and is eager to share his deepest thoughts. His thinking is his greatest skill, but also his biggest flaw. His cognitive virtuosity is breathtaking and paradoxically inspiring, yet ultimately his fear of hell slowly eats away at his soul. His inquisition of life’s perplexities harrow us to lifeless exhaustion. To think like Hamlet is to get to the core of our existence: “To be or not to be, that is the[only]question.” Hazlitt says, “It is we who are Hamlet.” We are all thinking creatures. Hamlet is literature’s nonpareil of consumate cognition and philosophical repartee. He is…

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How Hamlet Defines What It Means To Be Human

Shakespeare Unlimited

“What is a man if his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed: a beast no more.” Hamlet is uttering probably the simplest yet most profound observation in the entire play. We as humans often approach our lives with a bestial perspective. We indulge in meals, we lust, and we enjoy idleness. But this is obviously not what defines our species. Unlike other animals we have the gift of thought, imagination, reason and wit, and if we fail to use these endowments we are not living as true human-beings but merely as imposters of such. Beasts trapped in humans’ bodies. Without those things we are not truly human. Hamlet is indirectly encouraging us to be human-as-God-intended: for some Noble purpose. If we neglect to use our unique faculties that define us as human we are committing “the sin of…ingratitude”, for “he that made us…

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Twelfth Night! Installment 2

Duke Orsino has a servant named Valentine who woos on his behalf but to no avail. He brings back the news that he was not granted access to Olivia due to the mourning of her lost brother. He further mentions that she plans on refraining from any suits of love for seven long years. To most this would kill their fervor but not the Duke. This news galvanizes his romantic zeal for Olivia as he now feels that if she can show this much love to a brother, “how will she love with one self-King .” He spends the day in bed surrounded by flowers, roses, and herbs which he felt would amplify the splendor of his passionate contemplation.

A Brief Commentary on Twelfth Night

Olivia gets put in an interesting predicament when she thinks she is marrying Cesario (Viola’s masculine counterfeit) but actually marries her twin Sebastian. It seems a very convenient solution as the only way Olivia and Viola could be together is if they compromised their sexuality, and Olivia doesn’t complain about the mistake; she embraces it. Because Viola and Sebastian look indistinguishable, we would be inclined to consider that they mirror themselves in other ways: things such as honor, integrity, and virtue. These things are often similar between siblings but not always. It is influenced by their domestic environment during childhood and adolescence which with them being twins is probable to have been quite similar. Because both Viola and Sebastian end up with worthy counterparts, she with the Duke and he with, a Count’s daughter, Olivia, we can surmise they possess both an inner and outer charm. In Twelfth Night the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; but in this case, it’s in a good way.

Twelfth Night! Installment 1

Viola and Sebastian, brother and sister and twins, get caught in a horrible sea-storm which wrecks their ship at sea. Viola, a few sailors and the ship’s captain wash ashore alive, but Viola fears her brother, Sebastian, has drowned. Realizing she is in an unfamiliar land she asks, “What country friends is this?” They tell her Illyria; she reacts initially with a helpless frustration saying, “And what should I do in Illyria.” After being reminded how lucky she is to have made it to shore alive she decides to make the most of her situation. She asks further about this unfamiliar land and finds out that it is ruled by a Duke named Orsino considered to be noble, “in nature as in name.” Viola remembers back to when her father had told her about him and how he was a bachelor. The funny thing is that he still was. Orsino now seeks the love of Olivia, “a virtuous maid,” and “the daughter of a count.” Olivia had also lost a brother recently and had consequently declared to, “to abjure the company and sight of men,” to honor her brother’s memory. Viola considers that her best option in this unfamiliar land is to serve Olivia since they both have lost a dear brother. After the captain tells Viola that Olivia is steadfast in secluding herself from others, she resolves to serve the Duke instead. Disguising herself as a page boy she will have the ship captain present her as Cesario to the Duke. Viola mentions that this ship captain carries himself with a “fair behavior,” or in my interpretation: a demeanor of authority, which should convince the Duke to accept her service. She promises to pay this captain for his help as long as he stays silent regarding her true identity. After consenting to this, the captain leads her on towards the Duke.