Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The life-enhancing tone of Hamlet

There is, however, more to be said about the tone of Hamlet than that its range of presented or represented experiences is great, vigorous, brilliant, and vital. As these qualities establish, the tone is also life-enhancing, if I may borrow a term from Berenson. That is, the quality of the sheer love of life, of being alive, is shared by all, including the melancholic Hamlet. Hamlet can gossip with the players, remind them of the rudiments of their craft, partake of the artist’s ecstasy over a good play well done; and he can jest with Polonius, the King, and the gravediggers. Of course it is true that he complains to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that he has of late, he knows not why, lost his mirth; yet minutes before he has pulled off one of his delightful bits of bawdiness in his burlesque of Fortune as a strumpet in whose privates Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enjoy her favors. Hamlet has lost his mirth, but clearly not quite all of it. He can still joke obscenely, yet harmlessly, with Ophelia later in the play. His wit, often expressed for the sheer love of it, is present throughout. Certainly he is bitter and depressed, but the natural delight in wit and humor shines through the darkness.

As artist, Shakespeare dramatizes the mystery; as philosophical artist, he also dramatizes the denial of any convincing solution to the mystery. In effect, in Hamlet, Shakespeare shows us that man lives, questions, affirms, doubts and dies. – Morris Weitz

1 comment:

  1. This is one of the first Shakespeare plays I read as a child. I believe it still holds true in today's society. In all aspects that we all live in the never ending cycle of questioning and doubting.