Hamlets response to experience follows a similar

This preview shows page 6 - 8 out of 12 pages.

Hamlet’s response to experience follows a similar pattern: he first feels strongly with emotions and sensations, and then he articulates or expresses his feelings, rather than acting straight away.In following this pattern, Hamlet shows that his response to life is more traditionally feminine than masculine. After the Ghost leaves, Hamlet spends 13 lines expressing his emotions—cf
7Rosalind—“Do you not know I am a woman? When I think I must speak” (As You Like It3.2.253).In his first soliloquy, Hamlet shows his priorities: it’s 1.2. 133—let’s look at it now.He spends 10 lines describing his own emotional/intellectual state, depressed, even despairing (French 98). Only a phrase tells of his father’s death—“But two months dead.” Then he spends only a phrase detailing the diff between his father and Claudius—but he spends the remainder of the speech on “the real object of his outrage: Gertrude” (French 99).What is it about the remarriage that bothers him the most? The speed. As Marilyn French comments, “The speed of Gertrude’s remarriage violates Hamlet’s sensibilities because of what it betrays: sexual desire in Gertrude, desire great enough to lead her to ignore the standard social forms” (French 99); also, “The horror and shock he feels at the fact that she can feel desire at all is evident later, in his speech to her in the chamber, but it underlies all earlier references to the marriage” (French 99). French continues: “Any remarriage by Gertrude shows her inconstant; hasty remarriage suggests she may also be unchaste” (French 99); and, “For Hamlet, sexual desire in a woman is a posting ‘with . . . dexterity to incestuous sheets’ (French 99). He sees no medium between chastity and depravity in women. For him, as for his father, men are divided into gods—the celestial or the divine—and garbage—Hyperion or a satyr—there is nothing in between (French 99). In Hamlet’s mind, not to be godly and pure and chaste is automatically to be corrupt and sinful bestial garbage—for instance, this is what his “What a piece of work is a man” speech is about—see 2.2.327, and see also the seventh soliloquy—4.4.32-66. The world that surrounds Hamlet is morally ambiguous: Claudius is a good leader, but a murderer and adulterer; Gertrude is a loving wife and mother and a sensible queen, but also unchaste and inconstant; Polonius expresses moral views but acts deviously (French 100).Polonius’s treatment of Ophelia underlines the patriarchal assumptions of this culture—where women are responsible for sexuality and female virtue is equated with chastity (French 100). Meantime, male virtue has to do with legitimacy: Hamlet is thrown by his perception of the illegitimacy of Claudius’s claim to the throne and by the unchastity of his own mother, represent the female principle of disordered rank nature—“things rank and gross in nature.”As French observes, “The masculine principle, based on control and transcendence of nature,

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture