Hamlet As Scourge And Minister Essay, Research Paper
Hamlet As Scourge and MinisterHamlet purges Denmark as its scourge and minister by sendingthe miscreants of his society to hell and evincing the misdeedsof those who merit salvation. He possesses all the criteria toaccomplish this mission. The protagonist has exposed his moralcompetence and has shown his concern of he nation s fate.Celestial forces condone his methods of restoring justice inDenmark. Hamlet endeavors to correct the flaws of those who arenot deserving of his wrath, but those who are truly evil aresentenced to damnation by him. As the scourge and minister Hamletmust send Claudius, the supreme ruler of Denmark, to hell. Hamletcannot commit the regicide that he is destined for, unless he isassured that Claudius soul will perish. For that reason Hamlet sstruggle arises because he must be certain that his enemies arecondemned.Hamlet, as the divine providence of Denmark, must havemorals and an intellect. He must have the classic virtues:courage, temperance, prudence and justice (Elliott xxviii).Hamlet must have assurance of his interpretation of good and evilbefore he is able to judge others. The hero of Shakespeare sgreatest play possesses Christian virtues and an understanding ofits teachings.Firstly he was a religious man in the best sense ofthe word, and he was a man with a highly developedmoral sense. Conscience and grace dominate andcontrol the mind of Hamlet. Allusions to them arescattered up and down the play (Brock 3).Hamlet s knowledge that his mother was committing incestuous actsalludes to his awareness of scripture teaching. Hiscircumference was vast; but his nature was not centrifugal. Itrevolved upon a religious moral center (Elliott xxviii).Shakespeare also demonstrates Hamlet s morality in the prince ssecond soliloquy. Hamlet s questions display the use of hisintellect to ponder the possibilities of this situation. As aresult of Hamlet s intellectual competence, he can decide thefate of others. His advanced education at Whittenberg and theportrayal of a learned man confirms his intellectualcapabilities. Hamlet has an intellect that better understandsthe function of those three qualities — heed, judgment,discretion — for true temperance (Elliott 48). Hamletpossesses the combination of intellect and virtues as the scourgeand minister of Denmark.Hamlet s unique connection with Denmark is an integralaspect of his crusade. This bond creates an appearance of Hamletas the defender of Denmark. As the defender, he must eliminateall threats to the goodness of the land he resides in. His uncleClaudius is the ultimate threat. Hamlet is obliged to bring forthjustice to the nation. But divine law has fixed him in thissociety to which he belongs and for whose welfare he is deeplyconcerned (Elliott 12-13). On the contrary to Hamlet as aself-centered individual with the single ambition to ascend thethrone, he is concerned with the well being of the nation and hisimmediate associates. He attempts to save his mother Gertrude andOphelia. The spectator now invokes the prince s higher nature, his justice and temperance; emphasizing public instead ofpersonal motives (Elliott 30). Hamlet confronts the evils ofDenmark alone. It is a play about corruption (Knights 180).The corruption present in Denmark forces Hamlet to face adversitysingle-handedly. His mission is solitary because he does notaccept any assistance from anyone. The usurpation is a social sinbecause it affects the entire nation.As for Hamlet himself, what paralyses him is anoverwhelming sense of evil not only in Claudius or hismother but in almost the whole world constituted by thecourt of Denmark (Knights 174).The extensive ramifications of this deed cannot be resolved byone man alone. However, Hamlet stands alone as the defender ofDenmark.Hamlet s conscience compels him to rectify his situation.The protagonist is undergoing many inner conflicts. He cannotdecide the meaning of his mission. He knows that he must engageregicide but something hinders him from committing it. Hamletunderstands that he is the judge of his actions but he cannotcomprehend where his hindrance lies.Hamlet is not about a man whose character is an enigmato be unraveled, it is about a man who suffers acertain kind of experience, and the man and theexperience go together (Knights 180).The situation is clear. Hamlet has to kill the king or be killedby him. The circumstances that surrounds Hamlet forces him toact. The rights of Denmark have been violated and the nation sprince must restore justice. Like many of the historical princesand magnates of the sixteenth century, Hamlet was forced by thecircumstances of his time to agonizing struggles with hisconscience (Frye 74). Hamlet s conscience is the driving forcein his campaign. It tells him when an injustice has occurred anddisturbs him until he has corrected the situation.He who was born to set it right is religiously awareof his tragic need of being set right himself: I do
repent. The heavens are scourging and ministering to,the guilty prince himself along with his guilty kingdom(Elliott 123).Hamlet s action toward the king are justified by the publicand God. Not only did princes and magistrates have the right todestroy a tyrant but they had the duty so (Frye 264). Claudiusis a tyrant because he is not the just ruler who acquired thethrone in a wicked manner. Hamlet possesses the virtue of honor.In order to maintain this, Hamlet must ascend to the throne.Hamlet must face the destiny that God has chosen for him.Loyalty to God and the heart s independent moralimperatives, and loyalty to the status derived from thefamily and maintained by the individual following theimperatives of kin issuing from the heart which theancestors fashioned (Dodsworth 68).Hamlet s responsibility is to retain his devotion to God and hisfamily. The connection between God and Hamlet symbolizes thegoodness in Denmark s hero. Young Hamlet is ushered in by this morning, and he will partake of the god of day s nobilityand truth (Elliott 8). Hamlet is the morning in which he isassociated with light. Hence, Hamlet is good. On the other handClaudius is evil in which he is symbolized by complete darkness. Claudius is a seductive thing of night: dark and ugly, fleshlyand ill-shaped (Elliott 9). Since Hamlet is associated withheaven, his actions are justified by God. He has reason tobelieve that he is the scourge and minister because God hasgranted him the power. My text will show that towards the end heeven makes himself feel that heaven condones his conduct (Elliott xxii). Hamlet s intense desire to rectify his state motivates himto express his thoughts to his people of Denmark, particularlyGertrude and Ophelia. These women are the core of Hamlet sministry. Denmark s prince loves Ophelia and he must help herseek salvation in order for their love to blossom. In the firstscene of Act 3, Hamlet lectures to Ophelia how marriages arecorrupt and filled with impurity in Denmark. He recommends her togo to a nunnery in order to save herself.Hamlet is contrasting what happens to even the puristmarried woman – who has necessarily involved herself inthe squalid business of sex – with the spotless life ofa nun; if you marry , he says, you can t escapenastiness: so avoid marriage by taking vows ofchastity (French).Hamlet s constant care for Ophelia implies his concealed love forher. Hamlet is – or was – in love with Ophelia and she withhim (Kitto 250). Ophelia plays a significant role in Hamlet slife as a genuine inspiration. Hitherto his intense yearning toset things right in Denmark has been governed by princelyprudence aided by his love for Ophelia, she being a true image ofhis unselfish patience (Elliott 25). In the situation withGertrude, Hamlet attempts to make her aware of the incestuousacts that she has committed. Hamlet longs, passionately andbitterly, to break down her defenses (Elliott 96). Filled withgreat frustration, Hamlet willingly announced to Gertrude herwrongdoing.Hamlet: Nay, but to liveIn the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,Stewed in corruption, honeying and making loveover the nasty sty!As a result of this direct statement from her son, Gertrudefinally realizes her misdeeds. Hamlet is the scourge of Denmark because he provides theultimate punishment by sending evildoers to hell. His goal tomake certain that his adversities perish. For the execution ofRosencrantz and Guildenstern, on the other hand, he has noregrets (Frye 259). Hamlet denounced them by calling themserpents and sponges. He could not trust Rosencrantz andGuildenstern. Therefore, Hamlet fulfilled his duty of terminatingthe deceitful couple. Claudius was to receive a similar fate. Hehas sent these men to eternal damnation as he intended. HoweverHamlet lamented over the deaths of Polonius and Laertes becausehe could have saved them. Hamlet s problem result s from his goal to send his foes tohell. Hamlet has established his mission and has successfullycarried out important aspects of it. He has relieved Denmark ofthe mendacious duo of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, explained tohis mother Gertrude her incestuous acts, and has warned Opheliaof the evils in Denmark. Hamlet had intellectually devised a planin which he understood the difference between right and wrong.Hamlet s conscience and emotion were prime factors to hisambitions to ascend the throne. These internal elements ledHamlet to commit regicide. As the scourge and minister ofDenmark, Hamlet must either reform persons or expel them toeternal damnation. Literature s most famous character hadaccomplished his duty and restored justice in Denmark.
Brock, James Harry Ernest. The Dramatic Purpose of Hamlet.Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons, 1935. Dodsworth, Martin. Hamlet Closely Observed. Dover, NH: AnthlonePress. 1985. Elliott, George Roy. Scourge and Minister. New York: AMS Press,1965. French, A.L. Shakespeare and the Critics. Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 1972. Frye, Roland. The Renaissance Hamlet. Princeton, NJ: PrincetonUniversity Press, 1984. Kitto, H.D.F. Form and Meaning in Drama. London: Methuen. 1964. Knights, L.C. Some Shakespearean Themes and an Approach to Hamlet . Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1966.