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Emotion & Reason in Hamlet

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Chetna Kumar

on 28 April 2014

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Transcript of Emotion & Reason in Hamlet

Emotion & Reason
Hamlet in an emotional state to after knowing the truth. He is asked to take revenge by killing Claudius, and revenge is directly linked to emotion as justice is intellectual. Hamlet is in the internal conflict of emotion vs. reason one of the reasons being his presence in an honour bound society. The ghost asks Hamlet to take revenge (emotion) and at this point in time Hamlet is very emotionally unstable and makes statements claiming that he is ready to do whatever it takes. Hamlet has an inner and external conflict.
Inner conflict: find balance between emotion vs. reason
External conflict: To kill or not to kill Claudius
Hamlet had been previously doubting Claudius for the murder of the king, but at the same time was more emotionally against his mother has she had not mourned his father's (the king's) death and she had married him within two months of the death.
Ghost: Confirms Hamlet's doubts of Claudius murdering the king

Hamlet: Taken over by emotion of revenge, ready to take action

Ophelia describes Hamlet's attire. Hamlet's instability is not only shown through the way he speaks but also through how he is physically represented. "Doublet unbraced", "stockings fouled", and such details are given to show that Hamlet was unbalanced & emotional.
This scared Ophelia very much as it was unexpected of Hamlet to turn up this way, as he is tends to collected in front of her.

Here we are able to see another example of Hamlet emotionally unstable and that is presented through him being so disarranged while he visits Ophelia.
Hamlet seems like the stereotypical lover, Polonius uses that against Hamlet to suggest Ophelia that he is there only to use her .
While the play is bing showed in front of Polonius, we see a constant dismissal of the ideas.
In a soliloquy Hamlet compares himself to the actor playing the certain scene.

Polonius talks to Reynaldo about spying on Laertes.
Later Ophelia comes into the room talking about Hamlet coming into her room disheveled and in a bizarre condition.
Claudius has a soliloquy in which he is shown to be emotional, which is very rare and he tends to be very rational.
Hamlet overhears and has his own inner conflict of either he should kill him or not and the fact that the Ghost would want him to kill Claudius. In Hamlet's passage there are a lot of feminine lines which presents that he is doubtful/confused about what action he should be taking.
Hamlet choses to confront his mother, and the situation gets intense and ends Hamlet ends up killing Polonius by accident thinking he was the king, who was hiding behind the tapestry.
He ends up solving his conflict with mother. A different perspective to look at the same situation with Hamlet and his mother in this scene is through the Oedipal Complex.
The play takes place with the whole public present along with the king and queen.
Claudius is seen praying, where he is emotionally feeling pain and is yet still very rational. He tries ti rationalize how to get to heaven and questioning how to waash away the sings. He claims that the bad actions are driven by emotions and desires.

Scene 1

Scene 2

Soliloquy by Hamlet
Hamlet talks about the main purpose of the play is to gage the king but tends to keep noticing the fact of how the actor was able to push such intense emotions out of his emotions. He sees that the actor is able to get emotional of such a small act where as Hamlet himself is unable to do anything when he is in an actual emotionally difficult situation. His problem is his lack of emotion. So, Hamlet tries to get himself worked up to conjure up emotion. Hamlet always says a lot, but is not emotionally motivated to do anything about the current situation.
He consistently refers back to Hecuba as it is a direct tie to Hamlet's mother, Gertrude. As Hamlet has been told that he is supposed to leave his mother alone, he keeps going back to the role of Hecuba and the role his mother plays in this situation and this shows how he is unable to deal with his emotions reasonably.
He ridicules himself by the end and pretends to be someone very emotion, someone that he is not. Then he reflects back to himself as being foolish. This is a time for personal confrontation ofr Hamlet.

Fortinbras leading his troops into Poland through Denmark.
Ophelia has gone mad and is singing songs.
Hamlet on his way to England observes
Laertes wants to confront Hamlet about why he would kill his father, while Claudius is manipulating him.
Scene 4

Hamlet chooses to confront his mother. He is very disrespectful and demands her to sit down (line 14 - 16). The queen did not expect such an intense reaction from Hamlet and she has a sense of the situation slipping out of hand. Hamlet yet again very emotional as he begins to accuse his mother of killing his father ("Oh bloody deed..."), when he well knows that she hadn't. We are able to Hamlet's inner conflict again as he reverts back to blaming his mother when he should be focusing on killing Claudius and getting revenge. He tells his mother that he will tell him what she's doing wrong. In this angst he ends up killing Polonius who is hiding behind the tapestry.
The language gives a lot of imagery of corruption presenting the idea of ruining something's innocence (lines 42-49).
He begins to compare the two men (like he did in ACT 1 soliloquy, like the goes does too), and describes his father in terms of Roman Gods.
The Ghost enters.
He shows that Hamlet has gone overboard and yet again is wrong to blame his mother for the murder. In this scene we are not completely confirmed of the fact if the ghost can be seen or not because Gertrude says "Alas he's mad!"
The question is can Hamlet actually see the ghost or is he imagining it at this point?
Hamlet asks her to do two things. 1) Not to sleep with Claudius and 2) to let Claudius thinking that Hamlet is mad at him.
The conflict with his mother if finally solved.
Freudian Reading: Oedipal Complex
The Oedipal complex denotes the emotions and desires that the mind keeps in the unconscious, via dynamic repression, that concentrates upon a child's desire to sexually possess the parent of the opposite sex.
In some readings, this scene is also viewed through the Oedipal complex. In some productions this intense scene includes sex between Gertrude and Hamlet. This theory is supported through the the many times when Hamlet is shown to have special interest in his mothers life. Also the several vulgar and explicit questions he mentions to his mother in his passage support this view. This also serves as a justification for why Hamlet has not taken any action against Claudius to kill him yet. It can be seen that Hamlet is like his uncle, and he doesn't want to kill Claudius because he was able to do something that Hamlet himself wanted to do, and this is the reason why he is so interested in her sexual life.
Scene 4

Scene 5

Hamlet seeing Fortinbras leads to a soliloquy which a major turning point. Here he reasons with himself and reflects about his actions how to what degree it affects the people around him. He ponders upon the idea if he is thinking too much. His soliloquy has a similar idea as the one in Act 2). He goes from being uncontrollably emotional when thinking about revenge to thinking about the revenge very strategically.

The songs that Ophelia sings are about the death of her father, loss of virginity and about betrayed love. She reflects what is happening in her unconcious (as her concious is feed by her madness). There are two frustrations coming our of her singing:
1) Loss of Hamlet
2) Loss of her father
In that time madness was seen as excess of emotion and loss of reason rather than a mental condition.

Laertes is a foil character as he is a direct contrast to Hamlet. He is not concerned about heaven/hell. He is less emotional and more ready to take action.
Scene 7

Hamlet's Siloloquy: TURNING POINT
Hamlet saying that everything that he sees and that happens reminds him that the should be taking revenge. What is a man if all we do is eat and sleep, he contemplates that there should be a reason and should use it. Then he says he is thinking too much and claims that thinking is 1/4 reason and 3/4 cowardice.
Here he is seeing 20,000 people going to war for a small piece of land, equal to no reason where all these people will be killed. Whereas Hamlet himself has tons of reasons and he doesn't do anything (similar idea as in Act 2 soliloquy). He concludes that he complicated things by over thinking and contemplated on the consequences more than he should have.
Soliloquy can be divided into 5 thematic sections:
Identify Hamlet's mission: revenge. "How all occasions do inform against me / And spur my dull revenge!"
Spur into action: Hamlet understands he needs to stop over-thinking and take action
Compares himself to Fortinbras and sets an example of how Hamlet himself should be acting
"Led by this army of such mass and charge, / Led by a delicate and tender Prince . . . to all that fortune, death and danger dare, / Even for an eggshell."
Perplexity over the thousands of soldiers willing to die for a smaller cause and the disparity of his inability to take action on so much.
Resolution: having changed from being overly emotional to thinking rationally and finally being able to decide and be confident in taking revenge.
Madness in that time was seen as an excess of emotion and a loss of reason. Ophelia has gone mad and expresses this through the songs that she sings. The songs that she sings are about about the death of her father, loss of viriginity and betrayed love. This reflects what is happening in her unconscious. The two frustrations that come out of her singing are the loss of Hamlet and loss of her father. "Before you tumbled me, you promised me to wed." proves that Ophelia's madness may be stemming from being rejected by Hamlet.
Laertes mind is on the revenge that he wants. He is taken over by emotion and is directly foiling Hamlet. Hamlet is now thinking very rationally. (p.179 line 130) "juggled with .... for my father" shows that Laertes does not care about the consequences nor the fact if he is going to be ending up in heaven or hell. What matters to Laertes that he needs to get. Claudius is also in an emotional state yet still remaining calm as he is rationally trying to manipulate Laertes into making a plan to kill Hamlet.They make a plan to have a swordfight between Laertes and Hamlet to settle this issue but Laertes' sword will be sharped (and he chooses to dip it in poison) and then the King decides that he will offer Hamlet wine which will be poisoned if all else fails. In comparison to Hamlet, Laertes is more less emotional and also ready to take action instantaneously.
While burying Ophelia, Laertes overreacts and acts very theatrical and dramatic because he is extremely emotional. This desplay of emotion is making him seem close to madness and he is acting inappropriate for the situation. Hamlet and him get into a slight dispute where they talk about how much they both love Ophelia. Hamlet in this situation expresses his emotions very clearly, as opposed to Laertes who is having outbursts of emotion while he tries to keep himself contained.
As the swordfight is going to take place, Hamlet is having a funny feeling (OMEN) but as he has begun to think more rationally he chooses to not obey the instinct. Hamlet then goes on to justify that it was his madness, the excess of emotion that caused him to kill Polonius, not his own fault.

In Scene 1, Hamlet and Laertes become theatrical and dramatic and explain that they both loved Ophelia.
Scene 2, Hamlet explains that it was not his intentions to kill Polonius, it was his madness, not him.

Scene 1

While burying Ophelia, Hamlet and Laertes get at each other's throats where Laertes demonstrates his ability to care. Laertes' reaction is theartical and dramatic because he is extremely emotional. Laertes is angry at Hamlet for killing his father and in subsequently is blaming the death of his sister upon Hamlet as well. Whereas Hamlet expresses his emotions very clearly "This is I, Hamlet the Dane" shows his clear declaration meaning that he is getting to action and is challenging Laertes. Saying that if he loved him, so did Hamlet and that he would do anything for Ophelia. Hamlet's behavior matches Laertes' in the sense that he is coming around. Hamlet has established a new attitude about death, how to respond to it and how to be more responsible.
Scene 2

Hamlet has a funny feeling about this sword fight: "though would'st not think...." --> OMEN.
Should Hamlet trust his instinct? "it is no matter" --> he chose to ignore it, as of earlier in the book he would be too caught up in what the consequences could be.
Hamlet has successfully found an emotional equilibrium where he is able to negotiate between emotion and reason, and settle with being honorable.
Talking to Laertes, Hamlet justifies that it was his madness, not his fault that killed Polonius.Remembering that madness was n excess of emotion in that time and not a mental illness. Hamlet uses madness as a tool against himself. He continues to express the fact that "I am not my madness", that he is not defined my his emotional weakness. At this Laertes claim of vengeance is not entirely reasonable or credible. His response is that he is emotionally satisfied, "satisfied in nature, but "my terms of honour.... will no reconcilement make.... to keep my name..". Meaning that emotionally Laertes is able to understand what Hamlet means, but by honour Laertes needs someone with bigger authority to tell him that he doesn't need to kill Hamlet. The reason being that they live in an honour bound society.
The productio shows the emotional states of Hamlet and Laertes. Laertes is shown as too emotional and all over the place, he does not think of the moves that he is making but is very flustered. Hamlet on the other hand is very conserved and collected and emotionally stable.
Scene 5
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