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Humanistic Values Help Hamlet in His Rev…  

2010-04-24 18:42:00|  分类: 作业及论文 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Born in the crucial Renaissance period, Hamlet, the title character in Hamlet, conveys the most advanced humanistic thinking. Since the three most important soliloquies serve as the soul revelation of the title character’s personalities and philosophic tendencies, the following essay will analyze them in detail to show how Hamlet’s humanistic values help him fulfill his revenge.

Renaissance humanism’s central focus was human beings. Humans were praised for their achievements attributed to human ingenuity and human effort rather than divine grace. Humans were regarded optimistically in terms of what they could do, not just in the arts and sciences but even morally. Therefore it emphasized human dignity, human liberation, rationality and knowledge, rather than feudal divinity, mysticism, obscurantism and asceticism.

The first soliloquy occurs after his mother and uncle’s incestuous wedding. Doubting about the cause of his father’s death and imagining the revelry of the new couple and the people, Hamlet feels bitter agony in his heart and meanwhile is keenly aware the viciousness of this world. He wishes to turn into a dew disappearing to get away from this “unweeded garden”. Being a man of ambition, nobility and rationality, he cherishes and follows so many virtues and norms which others tend to ignore and abandon. Mother remarrying to Claudius, her husband’s brother, in “a most wicked speed” and feeling no shame or guilt at all. Claudius, the most pretentious satyr, fabricating such unscrupulous reason for his incest and usurpation. And the council serving, flattering and supporting the counterfeit of the old Hamlet. He cannot rebuke all of them in face since he respects human nature and acknowledges human weakness (i.e. “Frailty, thy name is woman.”) But he is so depressed and obsessed at their irrational and shameless activities and predicts that they “cannot come to good”. His melancholy and misery result from his humanistic values and his disappointment at the times which is saturated with decadence, corruption and unconscious of humanism.

The second soliloquy, the longest one, comes after the player’s vivid recitation. A player, “in a dream of passion, could force his soul so to his own conceit”. How about Hamlet himself with the real passion?! He is so disappointed at himself that he abuses passionately but ruthlessly of being a rascal, peak, coward, ass, etc. And this abuse functions as a warning for him not to forget to revenge and an urge to take a decisive action. In such strong accusation, however, he always remembers that the murder of his father lacks “grounds”. He then thinks of the play within the play to “catch the conscience of the King”. In this sense he does not believe the ghost at all. The ghost’s words can help as a clue but can never be the proof or reason for him to revenge Claudius for his father. His breaking the ghost mystery and respect of the law best illustrate his humanistic beliefs. And from this soliloquy, we can find that after an intense fighting with himself in the first period, Hamlet becomes no longer hesitant but resolute to take action to find out the truth and revenge. But the guidance of all his action is rationality rather than mysticism or obscurantism. It is because of his humanistic respect of every being that he concocts out a play to catch the King’s conscience.

The third and most famous soliloquy falls on the questioning on life and death: is it nobler to live miserably or to end one’s sorrow with a single stroke? In reasoning, he argues that it is human nature to choose to live and “bear the whips and scorns of time” because of “the dread of something after death” in “the undiscovered country”. And due to this conscience, we are made coward and are afraid of taking action. The true nature in life and death makes Hamlet a real humanist and gives a heavy blow to the Christian beliefs. His composed and sober reasoning mildly accuses human hesitation in the fighting against “outrageous fortune” (reality) and calls for immediate and brave action to resist the unfair treatment. From now on his melancholy and hesitation are replaced by a series of actions: first to revise the play, then to change the letter to eliminate the two classmates, and at last to kill the King. With the help of humanistic values Hamlet gradually acknowledges human weakness and finally gathers strength and wisdom to take action.

Through each soliloquy, we can sense the development of Hamlet’s personalities. In his thinking and rethinking of humanist values Hamlet develops himself and finally overcomes the difficulties and succeeds in revenge.

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