Hamlet

This essay has a total of 3155 words and 12 pages.

Hamlet

Within the play Hamlet there exists many puns and phrases, which have a
double meaning. Little ploys on words which tend to add a bit of
entertainment to the dialogue of the play. These forked tongue phrases are
used by Shakespeare to cast an insight to the characters in the play to give
them more depth and substance. However, most importantly these phrases cause
the reader or audience to think. They are able to show a double meaning that
not all people would pick up on, which is the purpose of the comments.
Little is known about Shakespeare's life, other than he was a great
playwright whose works serve to meld literary casts for ages to come. This
was his occupation, he wrote and directed plays to be performed. This was his
sole form of income that we know of, it was his way of putting the bread on
the table. If people did not like what Shakespeare wrote, then he would not
earn any money. If the people didn't like what they saw, he became the
starving artist. Shakespeare wrote these dialogues in such a manner as to
entertain both the Nobility, as well as the peasants.
The Shakespearean theater is a physical manifestation of how Shakespeare
catered to more than one social class in his theatrical productions. These
Shakespearean theaters have a unique construction, which had specific seats
for the wealthy, and likewise, a designated separate standing section for the
peasants. This definite separation of the classes is also evident in
Shakespeare's writing, in as such that the nobility of the productions speak
in poetic iambic pentameter, where as the peasants speak in ordinary prose.
Perhaps Shakespeare incorporated these double meanings to the lines of his
characters with the intent that only a select amount of his audience were
meant to hear it in either its double meaning, or its true meaning.
However, even when the tragic hero Hamlet's wordplay is intentional.
it is not always clear as to what purpose he uses it. To confuse or to
clarify? Or to control his own uncensored thoughts? The energy and turmoil of
his mind brings words thronging into speech, stretching, over-turning and
contorting their implications. Sometimes Hamlet has to struggle to use the
simplest words repeatedly, as he tries to force meaning to flow in a single
channel. To Ophelia, after he has encountered her in her loneliness, "reading
on a book," he repeats five times "Get thee to a nunnery," varying the phrase
very little, simply reiterating what was already said by changing "get" to
"go." This well known quote, to this day cannot be deciphered in its
entirety, for nunnery is a place where nuns live, yet it is also a brothel.
Hamlet seems to knowingly cast a shade of confusion into the minds of the
audience or is it in fact clarity within confusion. That is, the audience is
able to better understand the thoughts and inner struggle of Hamlet via these
conflicting terms.
After Hamlet has visited his mother "all alone" in her closet and killed
Polonius, after she has begged him to "speak no more", and after his father's
ghost has reappeared, Hamlet repeats "Good night" five times, with still
fewer changes in the phrase than "Get thee to a nunnery" and those among
accompanying words only. So Hamlet seems to be struggling to contain his
thoughts even by use of these simple words, rather than enforcing a single
and simple message as a first reading of the text might suggest; and the
words come to bear deeper, more ironic or more blatant meanings. It is from
these phrases, which even manage to confuse the complex mind of Hamlet that
we begin to get a glimpse into the intentions of Hamlets mind, and seeing
just exactly the way he ticks.
Much of the dramatic action of this tragedy is within the head of
Hamlet, and wordplay represents the amazing, contradictory, unsettled,
mocking nature of that mind, as it is torn by disappointment and positive
love, as Hamlet seeks both acceptance and punishment, action and stillness,
and wishes for consummation and annihilation within a world he perceives to
be against him. He can be abruptly silent or vicious; he is capable of wild
laughter and tears, and also playing polite and sane. The narrative is a kind
of mystery and chase, so that, underneath the various guises of his wordplay,
we are made keenly aware of his inner dissatisfaction, and come to expect
some resolution at the end of the tragedy, some unambiguous "giving out"
which will report Hamlet and his cause aright to the unsatisfied among the
reader. Hamlet himself is aware of this expectation as the end approaches,
and this still further whets our anticipation for what is to become.
A commonly recurring theme throughout the play is that of honesty. It is
introduced in the beginning of the play and as the play continues, its use
becomes more and more common, as well as more and more ironic. This theme
within the play itself is ironic, for as Marcellus said "Something is rotten
in the state of Denmark" and this corruption we see so exhibited in the play
is far from honest. When Hamlet applies the word honest to the main
characters of the play, his use of becomes undeniably ironic, and much of the
dark humor of the play derives from Hamlet's wordplay. Polonius marks that
though Hamlet's insults seem to make no sense, "yet there is method in 't."
In Act II, it is Polonius that is the first target of Hamlet's irony of the
use of honest. Hamlet calls him first a "fishmonger" which it has many
meanings, including the implication that Ophelia is a whore and Polonius is
her pimp. And of course, Polonius has employed his daughter in his plot to
discover the depth of Hamlet's "madness." When Polonius says he is not a
fishmonger, Hamlet replies "Then I would you were so honest a man." In other
words, he wishes Polonius was as honest as a simple fish seller, or even more
insulting, as honest as the pimp Hamlet insinuated he was.
In this scene, Hamlet also uses this ironic meaning of honesty against
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern when he tells them "...I will not sort you with
the rest of my servants, for, to speak to you like an honest man, I am most
dreadfully attended." He seems to mean that he cannot speak to them with
honesty, because they themselves are dishonest in their intents.
Honesty resonates as a theme in Hamlet because nothing is, as it seems
in Denmark. The King deceives the world and pretends a legitimacy he does not
have; Hamlet deceives the court by feigning madness; Polonius, Rosencrantz
and Guildenstern all try to deceive Hamlet into revealing why he is
distraught, and no one knows what is truth and what is a lie. The world has
not grown honest, as Rosencrantz claims, but dishonest, and no one who lives
in it can keep his honesty pure from the corrupting air. Hamlet seems to be
the character that uses the majority of such puns and phrases in the play.
These phrases, which have double meaning, could represent the inner turmoil,
which seems to be tearing Hamlet apart. By seeing a definite double meaning
to many phrases in the play, we are able to easily see that all is not as it
should be. Hamlet's personality is thrown into chaos. He is in mourning the
death of his father, and then his mother marries his uncle. He is enraged at
her, and on top of all of this he sees the ghost of his father commanding him
to avenge his wrongful murder. Yet, amongst all this turmoil, I believe that
Hamlet was only playing the part of being crazy. He speaks in riddles and
plays on words in order to create a certain suspicion about his sanity. This
abnormal activity gives him the ability to sneak a few insults by without
having to directly confront his enemies. It seems to be quite a bit worse if
the person who was insulted isn't exactly sure whether or not they were just
insulted. Hamlet is able to interject these insults without even the other
character noticing, which is the art of insult
it is this unpredictability of action, this sporadic bouts of insanity and
sanity, the inner turmoil brewing within Hamlet, which keeps the audience's
interest. Nobody is really sure whether or not Hamlet was insane. Many have
theories and beliefs, but Shakespeare never came out and said he definitely
is or definitely is not sane, he only hints. There are valid arguments on
either side, for Hamlet Himself said "I am mad but north-northwest"; that is
he is only mad about one thing in particular.
The wordplay in Hamlet is a representation of the complexity of the
minds of the characters that Shakespeare created. It is a depiction of the
inner turmoil within a character struggling with sanity. However, more
importantly it is necessary to keep in mind that Shakespeare was a playwright
and that the play on words did one thing in particular, which is why
Shakespeare lived to write so many plays, Hamlet, because of its wording is
entertaining and that made all the difference.
Within the play Hamlet there exists many puns and phrases, which have a
double meaning. Little ploys on words which tend to add a bit of
entertainment to the dialogue of the play. These forked tongue phrases are
used by Shakespeare to cast an insight to the characters in the play to give
them more depth and substance. However, most importantly these phrases cause
the reader or audience to think. They are able to show a double meaning that
not all people would pick up on, which is the purpose of the comments.
Little is known about Shakespeare's life, other than he was a great
playwright whose works serve to meld literary casts for ages to come. This
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