LCHS| Critical / Analytical Response #1| English 30-1| | Matilda| 3/1/2013|
Consider how an individual’s response to injustice has been reflected and developed in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Discuss the idea(s) developed by Shakespeare about the role of self-respect plays when an individual responds to injustice.
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet one can contemplate that an individual response to injustice acts is by committing unruly things. That when an individual is in a situation to deal with something inhuman they act on their revenge for love by committing inhumane deeds; sins.
Throughout the play many characters deal with disorderly situations with even more appalling deeds, and in the end one can see nothing works out for those who go against their morals as a human. One example of a character in Hamlet that seeks revenge from an unjust act is Hamlet himself. After Hamlets father’s death, his mother marries Hamlets uncle Polonius. Hamlet is appalled by this since his father didn’t even pass two months before the wedding.
While hamlet is stuck in grief about his father’s death and his mother’s marriage, his is visited by the ghost of his father and is told Polonius murdered him and “cut off even in the blossoms of my sin, unhousel’d disappointed, unaneled; no reckoning made, but sent to my account with all my imperfections on my head. ” (1.5.77). Because of this Sir Hamlet tells Hamlet to take revenge on his uncle and Hamlet agrees too. Throughout the play Hamlet plans out to kill Polonius and when he has his first chance to take revenge he notices he is praying and backs down since “now I’ll do’t: and so he goes to heaven:” (3.75) He didn’t want his uncle not to suffer, he needed to take revenge when his sins aren’t forgiven so he can suffer like his father has. At the end of the play Hamlet finally gets his revenge. After figuring out that Polonius is trying to poison him and accidently poisons the Queen, Hamlet stabs him with the poisoned sword and says to Polonius, “here, thou incestuous, murderous, damned dane, drink off this potion. Is thy union here? Follow my mother.” (5.2.318) After killing the King, Hamlet slowly dies from the poison as well.
One can see that for Hamlet to seek revenge he felt like her had to go against his morals which in the end ended his life. Just like Hamlet, Laertes seeks revenge for his father’s death as well. When he comes back from his voyage and finds out his father has been murdered and he automatically thinks it was the King’s fault. When the King explains what happened to his father he understands and all his hatred towards the King goes to Hamlet. When Laertes confesses his plans for revenge to the King, the King tells Laertes that he already has it planned out and that Hamlet is to be killed in England.
When Claudius gets a letter from Hamlet saying he’s coming back to Denmark, Laertes and himself plan on a murder that no one would suspect, “if he be now return’d, as checking at his voyage, and that he means no more to undertake it, I will work him to an exploit now in my device, under the which he shall not choose but fall, and for his death no wind of blame shall breathe; but even his mother shall uncharge the practice, and call it accident.” (4.7.62). As the day comes that Hamlet arrives back to Denmark, Claudius and Laertes challenged Hamlet into a duel between him and Laertes; a duel that Hamlet would never win.
To make sure Hamlet would die, they poisoned the sword and “have prepared him a chalice for the nonce; whereon but sipping, if he by chance escapes your venom’d stuck,” (4.7.160). During the duel Hamlet and Laertes accidently switch swords and Laertes gets cut with the poisoned sword and dies. From Laertes trying to get revenge from the unjust act of his father’s death, he ends up committing a sin himself and karma gets him in the end. When Ophelia found out about her father’s death and that Hamlet was the one who murdered him she went mad.
She had loved Hamlet and her father so much and to find out that her father was dead and that her love was to blame for it she went crazy. She had finally cracked and couldn’t keep her sadness inside anymore, talking in rhymes all the time about her life, and being sad about Hamlets unfulfilled promise about marriage. She felt like she had nothing to live for anymore. Unlike Hamlet and Laertes she did not look for revenge on someone else, but instead blamed her father’s death on herself and committed suicide.
When Gertrude is explaining Ophelia’s death to her brother and the king she said that she accidentally fell into the water and then simply neglected to save herself from sinking, “When down her weedy trophies and herself Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide; And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up: Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes; As one incapable of her own distress, Or like a creature native and indued Unto that element: but long it could not be Till that her garments, heavy with their drink, Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay To muddy death.” (4.7.176).
It was like she was going with the “flow.” When her father was alive she didn’t have to think for herself, he made all her decisions for her and just like when she drowned she didn’t do anything about it, just waiting for someone to tell her what to do. When things get tough some people think suicide is the only way out, that the only way to end your suffering is to end your life. Ophelia reacted to an unjust act by committing the largest sin known to man. In conclusion one can see that an individual’s response to injustice acts is by committing unruly things, that every action has a reaction, good or bad.
That when it comes to self-respect in an unjust situation, people seem to not go by their morals, but seem to go by their heart, by what they think is right, not necessarily thinking about the consequences to come. Passionate pain can be physically and emotionally crippling and whether it’s in the story of Hamlet or a newspaper article in 2013, the human condition responds at times in an extreme way because of the inability to control ones response when dealing with such heightened emotions such as love, death and betrayal. Everyone has moments of living on the edge but a healthy mind allows us to step back and weigh in perspective.