Hamlet The Imbalance Of The Idealistic

Mind And Human Nature Essay, Research Paper

It is often heard: Nobody is Perfect. This phrase is often used and abused as a rationalization of foolish human mistakes that could have been prevented. However, this statement has a much more profound significance. It contains an important lesson that guides or rather should guide people through life. By admitting that nobody is perfect, the individual demonstrates a deeper understanding of the human nature and inner self. This knowledge is essential to the individual’s creation of healthy relationships with one’s surrounding. For as Robert A. Johnson asserts in his book, He, “perfection or a good score is not required; but consciousness is”(76). In William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, the main character experiences enormous inner turmoil, for he fails to acknowledge the human tendency for imperfection, or more strongly emphasizing, the human proneness to err. With his idealistic perception of the world crushed by his father’s death and the incestuous remarriage of his glorified mother, Hamlet unconsciously throws himself into a reality, in which he develops a deep resentment for humanity, and more specifically, for his mother, Queen Gertrude. His frustrating disorientation and misunderstanding of his situation is not brought upon by the repressed sexual desires gaining control of Hamlet’s mind, as Sigmund Freud would have it (119), however, it is, perhaps, the necessity, forcing him to abandon his security, that causes Hamlet to become paralyzed in his “meditation of inward thoughts”(Coleridge 95), thus, precluding his ability to act upon his deepest desire to avenge the wrongs.

When King Hamlet, Prince Hamlet’s father, was still alive, the prince lived in a reality sheltered from all the imperfections of humanity. He was a prince respected and loved by his subjects, and before him, he had the perfect and most sacred union of a man and a woman. He looked upon his parent’s relationship as the ultimate harmony and happiness that one could gain from life. In his mind, the idealized majestic couple was flawless, and thus, the goal that all human beings should be striving for. His father was the epitome of masculinity, independent of any feminine control and with “grace seated on his brow:/ Hyperion’s curls, the front of Jove himself,/ And eye like Mars, to threaten and command”(3, IV, 55-57). Queen Gertrude, on the other hand, was the wise wife and caring mother, which added perfection and glory to King Hamlet. Together, they formed the eternal power.

However, this idealistic perception comes crushing down as the king dies and the queen remarries. With his father’s death, Hamlet loses the idea of immortality According to which Death would avoid the majestical “Hercules”(1, II, 153), for whom it had respect and fear. Along with the vanquished idea of immortality, Hamlet loses a patriarch to look up to. Even though, the prince is thirty-three years old, due to his sheltered existence, he cannot be considered a fully mature man capable of taking on his responisibilities. Lacking the strength a true hero should have, his mother’s remarriage further overwhelms Hamlet and throws him into despair. The once glorified Queen Gertrude becomes the “unweeded garden/ That grows to seed, things rank and gross in nature”(1, II, 135-136). In the prince’s confused mind, Hamlet perceives the mother as lustful and sinful creature that has dishonored not only the sacred vows of marriage, but she has also stained the previously impeccable image of the strong masculine, for she has lured yet another man to gratify her wicked desires. These sudden blows shattering Hamlet’s idealism become as Johnson described it, the Fisher King Wound (2), brought upon by the “instinct and nature now suddenly having been touched by a vision of spirit clashing with pure spirit which ahs been touched by a vision of instinct and nature”(3). Lacking an understanding of the world, Hamlet “can neither live with the new consciousness he has touched nor can he entirely drop it”(Johnson 4).

The introduction of such a completely new conscience into Hamlet’s innocent and naive mind paralyzes the prince, sinking him into an abyss of “superfluous activity of mind”(Coleridge 95). Hence, the balance between the real and imaginary world is distorted, resulting in “great, enormous, intellectual activity, and a consequent proportionate aversion to action”(Coleridge 95). The resulting depression causes his weakness and incompetence. Hamlet wishes to be engulfed into this world of thoughts, for there he can ponder and idealize without the necessity to act upon his mind. He discloses his resentment towards human beings in his first soliloquy, wishing “o that this too too sullied flesh would melt/ Thaw, and resolve itself into dew”(1, II, 129-130). Not only does Hamlet reveal his inability to take immediate action, he also divulges his contempt for death, for he portrays it as only being able to deal away with the body, while the mind, being out of death’s reach, carries on victoriously. The reasons that Hamlet gives us for not committing suicide are his fear of God’s punishment as well as the fulfillment of his promise to his father to avenge his death. Yet, at this point, Hamlet is full of purpose, but he lacks the strength to accomplish the task, and it is for that reason that he cannot commit suicide. It seems that thinking is more realistic to him than reality itself. Consequently, he finds it much more gratifying to ponder of all the way he shall punish his incestuous mother, than rather acting it out, for reality only spoils it. In his mind, he can keep his idealism not infected by truths seemingly absurd and entirely incoherent with his conscience, or at least he wants to believe this. If denial through hiding out in the privacy of his reason were the answer, Hamlet would not have to struggle with himself, for he himself recognizes that he is a “slave”(3, I, 530) and a ” dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak/ Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of [his] cause/ And can say nothing… Am I a Coward?”(3, I, 548-551). To further explain the reason for the failure of Hamlet’s defensive system, Johnson aptly explains the condition the prince finds himself in. As the author of He asserts, ” to truly become a man the shadow personality must be struggled with, but it cannot be repressed”(24). Consequently, Hamlet cannot deny the truth bluntly exposing itself to him.

As Hamlet discovers more about himself, he begins to get in touch with his self, the balance between his immersion in the realm of thought and the real world of action is on its way to reaching an equilibrium. The prince begins to realize that not only is it in human nature to err, but that his father, his mother, and he himself is human and thus, is entitled to imperfection. As he comes to this realization, he also accepts death, which comes to everyone and even “Alexander died/ Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth to dust, the/ dust is earth”(5, I, 194-196). Through asserting that “there is special provi-/ dence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be [now], ’tis not to’ come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now/ yet it [will] come – the readiness is all. Since no man, of/ aught he leaves, knows what is’t to leave betime, let be”(5, II, 202-206), Hamlet demonstrates he’s newly found understanding as well as contentment with his self, for he has come to terms with the non-idealistic world and reached “tao, the middle way”(Johnson 38). Through accepting his new identity as it should be in the context of the whole universe, the prince stopd attempting to find everything its place, but rather he allows for the natural order to occur. Accordingly, he is able reason and act in harmony with his mind, for he has reached the Grail Castle, the “inner reality, a vision, poetry, a mystical experience, and it can not be found in any outer place”(Johnson 56).


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