Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Reader's Diary #24- William Shakespeare: Hamlet (end of Act 3, Scene 1)

Shakespeare must have loved toying with the audience, or in this case reader. Hamlet's sanity seems to be the biggest toy, followed by his interest in Ophelia. Was he sane? Up to this point (i.e., Act 3, Scene One) I would have to say yes, despite what Palonius and popular opinion might think. Even Hamlet doesn't seem sure. However, while I do think he is majorly distraught, I think his ability to plot and philosophize contradicts true insanity.

Did he love Ophelia? My feeling is no. He tells her at one point that he did and in a few breaths later says that he did not. Shakespeare was really having fun. I think that his contradiction didn't really derive from being insane, nor was it a result of being mean to Ophelia (though he certainly was insensitive). The death of Hamlet's father was the catalyst, in my opinion, that thrust Hamlet into adulthood. It is now that he wrestles with such questions as the value of life ("To be or not to be...") and comes to realize that his childish obsession with Ophelia was not the "true love" he once thought it was. A very compelling character indeed.

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