Relativism on Hamlet Essay

This essay has a total of 834 words and 4 pages.

relativism on Hamlet



The speaker of this statement is Hamlet. It appears in a conversation with Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern who visited Hamlet by Claudius’s order to spy on him. In this statement
Hamlet is saying that because “good or bad” (relativism) depends on how people
think, there is no mutual concept of “good or bad”. To Hamlet whether the
world is to be seen as a full of confines and lies or not, it all depends on what people
think about the world they are living. To Hamlet consequence of contemplation about what
is right or wrong, or good or bad seems to be more important than the action itself.
Action without the sense of morality is undesirable. Toward the end of the play Hamlet
stop thinking about the validity of his motivation toward his action, and decide to let
things go so much as “let God do the thinking” idea.

Hamlet relates his action with relativism (being or seeming) in “To be, or not to
be: that is the question: whether ‘tis nobler in the mind of suffer the slings and
arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms and arrows of outrageous fortune, and by
opposing end them” (3.1.57). Here he is posing two choices of action; the action
based on Stoic philosophy, constrain his passion so that the action will be healthy and
upright will, or based on his public obligation to remove the rottenness in Denmark. Later
in this scene he considers a third possible solution to his problem – suicide. But
his thinking of what would happen after death puzzles his will of suicide. The statement
is “But that the dread of something after death, the undiscover’d country from
whose bourn no traveller returns, puzzles the will” (3.1.78). Hamlet contemplates
endlessly what would be the proper and most effective way to solve his problem. By doing
too much thinking he won’t be able to take an action, and he is well aware of it as
in “thus conscience does make cowards of us all and thus the native hue of
resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, and enterprises of great
pith and moment with this regard their currents turn awry, and lose the name of
action.”(3.1.83). Here he refers to conscience as a function of determines the
moral quality of action. To Hamlet an action without concern for morality is not
desirable. Above statements clearly shows that Hamlet is incapable of executing his
revenge.

Toward the end of the play Hamlet seems to have resolved all doubts and concern about what
action to take. He seems to learn to go beyond the idea of relativism. The statement is
“since no man has aught of what he leaves, what is’t to leave betimes? Let
be”(5.2.196). He is no longer fear death or what may await him after death, and no
longer restrained by conscience.

In my opinion Hamlet’s idea of relativism (no mutual concept of relativism) seems
extreme and unbalanced. There should be some common ground that all human being can agree
to whatever the issue is; right or wrong, or good or bad. Without the mutual concept of
relativism we wouldn’t be able to relate to someone, and there wouldn’t be any
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