Vengeance of the prince
Introduction: In William Shakespeare’s drama, Hamlet, he made the prince be a “giant of mind, but a dwarf of practice”. He heeds the call of his father, the king of Demark who was killed by his brother, and decided to revenge his uncle who was the killer. The ghost of the old king told him to bury the killer and the betrayed queen who was Hamlet’s mother and married with his uncle after his father’s death. The
prince always has philosophical reflections. “To be, or not to be” (scene1, act3) was his interrogate of his environment.
Keywords: Vengeance, delay, apprehension
Like other humanism holders in his era, William Shakespeare also thought highly of humanity. Then he put his thought in Hamlet, which made prince’s vengeance be philosophical. That made his plan delayed again and again. Every time he got the chance, he must be a “dwarf of practice” and a coward. “ Now might I do it pat, now
he is praying;
And now I'll do't. And so he goes to heaven,
And so am I reveng'd. That would be scann'd.
A villain kills my father; and for that,
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
Why, this is hire and salary, not revenge!
He took my father grossly, full of bread,
With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;
And how his audit stands, who knows save heaven?
But in our circumstance and course of thought,
'Tis heavy with him; and am I then reveng'd,
To take him in the purging of his soul,
When he is fit and seasoned for his passage?
Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent.
When he is drunk asleep; or in his rage;
Or in th' incestuous pleasure of his bed;
At gaming, swearing, or about some act
That has no relish of salvation in't-
Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,
And that his soul may be as damn'd and black
As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays.
This physic but prolongs thy sickly days. ”(scene3, act3)
In this scene, Hamlet let the killer, King Claudius off the death when the king was praying for his sin. The prince had the best chance ever to make his vengeance but he delayed. The only reason is his father’s ghost told him to bring his uncle to the hell but to end a praying life shall bring him to the Heaven. Including the view of religion, the prince was hesitate and cowardly. In his monologue, he had shown his dread to the judgment, his willing to cover his cowardness and his excuses to refuse his vengeance.
Another kind of his character was to enlarge the tiny to the enormous. Often, he
hurt many people including himself. That made him being deserted by his followers.
For instance, after the famous “To be, or not to be”, we could see Hamlet hurt
Ophelia by these words:
Oph. Good my lord,
How does your honour for this many a day?
Ham. I humbly thank you; well, well, well. Oph. My lord, I have remembrances of yours That I have longed long to re-deliver.
I pray you, now receive them.
Ham. No, not I!
I never gave you aught.
Oph. My honour'd lord, you know right well you did, And with them words of so sweet breath compos'd As made the things more rich. Their perfume lost, Take these again; for to the noble mind
Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind. There, my lord.
Ham. Ha, ha! Are you honest?
Ham. Are you fair?
Oph. What means your lordship?
Ham. That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty.
Oph. Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty? Ham. Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness. This was sometime a paradox, but now the time gives it proof. I did love you once. Oph. Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.
Ham. You should not have believ'd me; for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it. I loved you not.
Oph. I was the more deceived.
Ham. Get thee to a nunnery! Why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest, but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me. I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious; with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do, crawling between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves all; believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery. Where's your father?
Oph. At home, my lord.
Ham. Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool
nowhere but in's own house. Farewell.
Oph. O, help him, you sweet heavens!
Ham.If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague for thy dowry:
be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape
calumny. Get thee to a nunnery. Go, farewell. Or if thou wilt
needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what
monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go; and quickly too.
Farewell. (scene1, act 3)
In the dialogue, the prince hints obliquely at his mother who was not honest. Though there was nothing connected with the honest Ophelia, she was hurt by these sting-like words. However, Hamlet had stick into the sorrow and pain, without his love and mercy to the daughter to Polonius.
In fact, Hamlet is an immature boy who was catalyzed by misfortunes. His mother married his uncle who killed his father and his friends betrayed him. That made the boy grows up into a mental monster which had to vent by bite the others. Furthermore, his mind was controlled by his father’s words and his spirit has lost the balance. Thus, his character was made to be hesitating in reaching his vengeance.
At the dead end, the boy thought about death but soon he hesitated. The boy started to think about what would happen after his death, would he alive after passed away and will he return after reaching the destination. Death shall give more tribulation:
“Ham. To be, or not to be- that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them. To die- to sleep- No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache,and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation Devoutly to be wish'd. To die- to sleep. To sleep- perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub! or in that sleep of death what dreams may come F
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause. There's the respect That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely, The pangs of despis'd love, the law's delay, The insolence of office, and the spurns That patient merit of th' unworthy takes, When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear, To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death-
The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns- puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
han fly to others that we know not of? T
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,
nd enterprises of great pith and moment A
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.- Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia!- Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins rememb'red.” (scene1, act3)
The most famous monologue presented the uncertainness prince lingering between deaths and living. He felt into a question, set an answer. Then he denied and set the other one. Then he denied again. No matter what it was, the boy always dodged the problem before he reach the essence. Thus he said that the conscience made him a coward and he had lost the name of action.
The last part was the duel between Hamlet and Laertes, the son to Polonius. Laertes was opposite to Hamlet. He interrogated Claudius about his father’s death
and only controlled by his emotion.
Comparing Hamlet with another famous idealist Don Quixote, the prince is a
pessimist whose will was depressed by intelligent. Hamlet always thinks too much while Don Quixote focused on doing. When the prince was in trouble, he had to be mad. When the Knight was in trouble, he would charge and fight with it, though the trouble was a windmill. In fact, the people will do one of them. Either do we thinking, or do we doing.
Heroes of William Shakespeare are always multileveled. Hamlet usually thinks widely but he does nothing. Sometimes he is hesitating; sometimes he rises like a ion. He could be praiseful but he would also degrade others. He is a murderer and a l
revenger. (Nie, 2013) Though he is multileveled, thinking and delaying lead the fact.
《莎士比亚与<哈姆雷特>》,2013, 聂珍钊, 华中师范大学