Monday, November 27, 2006

Y12 Hamlet essays first thousand words

If you've submitted it electronically, I've marked it below. Please do use 'lightingfools' for this, it's what it was designed for and makes life a lot easier for student and teacher- marking in cyberspace is very effective! My marking and comments are in BLOCK CAPITALS. Remember, this mark forms your first AfL assessment.

Matthew Milner 18th November 2006How far would you agree, Hamlet is ?a play dealing with the effect of a mother?s guilt upon her son? (TS Eliot, The Sacred Wood) ?THE critics, TS Eliot and John Dover Wilson have contrasting views on Shakespeare?s Hamlet, his emotions and his actions within the play. TS Eliot believes that Hamlet is distraught with the actions of Gertrude, his mother, and that is the most important reason for his emotional turmoil and his APPARANTLY INSANE actions and thoughts, but as Gertrude`s actions are not SINFUL OR REPREHENSIBLE enough to warrant this sort of a response from Hamlet, Eliot believes that the play has failed AS A SATISFYING WORK OF ART.However, John Dover Wilson?s view on the character of Hamlet is that there are many valid, or at least UNDERSTANDABLE reasons which THE AUDIENCE can SYMPATHISE WITH for his actions and grievance. Dover Wilson sees Hamlet?s brooding on his mother and women in general, especially Ophelia as being simply motivated by jealousy and disgust, RATHER THAN BY AN OEDIPAL OBSESSION, WHICH ELIOT SUGGESTS SHAKESPEARE FORCED INTO THE PLAY BECAUSE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS OF HIS OWN (LOOK AT ELIOT’S OWN WORDS HERE AND USE A QUOTATION0. John Dover Wilson CONCLUDES HIS RESPONSE TO ELIOT’S VIEW ON THE PLAY WITH THE ASSERTION ‘the facts as they appear, account for Hamlet’s madness and melancholy and treatment of the women in the play, but whether they excuse him raises another and different problem’.SOME ELEMENTS OF THE PLAY, DEPENDING ON INTERPRETATIVE JUDGEMENT, support TS Eliot`s view of Hamlet being distraught with his mother and some support John Dover Wilson?s view that there are many possible reasons for this emotional turmoil. SIGNIFICANTLY, MUCH DEPENDS ON THE DIRECTOR’S CHOICES; THE SAME SCENES, if presented in different ways, can support either CRITICS’ view.Hamlet?s first soliloquy is extremely important to the overall understanding of TS Eliot`s view of Hamlet?s actions and the play itself. ONE CAN SEE EVIDENCE FOR ELIOT’S ASSERTION THAT ‘Hamlet is a play dealing with the effect of a mother?s guilt upon her son’ IN THE LINE?O that this too too solid flesh would melt? (1.2.129). What this implies is that Hamlet feels dirty and that he would like to melt away into nothingness, commit suicide, Also the word ?solid? could also BE?sullied?, DEPENDING ON WHICH EDITION OF HAMLET IS TRUSTED, which means dirty. This could mean that possibly he feels dirty because of what his mother and uncle have done, whether it is their hasty marriage or the fact that they are together or also because he has sexual feelings for his mother. He then goes on to say
‘Or that the Everlasting had not fixed His canon `gainst self slaughter? (1.2.131-132).
This supports TS Eliot`s view of the play because this could mean that he wants to commit suicide so he can get away from the sins of his mother (EXPAND THIS- IS IT THAT HE WANTS TO DIE TO ESCAPE FROM HIMSELF AND HIS OWN ‘OEDIPAL EMOTIONS’ TOWARDS HIS MOTHER?). Another quote that supports This distress towards his mother is when he struggles on many occasions to complete his sentence and says ?and yet within a month-Let me not think on`t?. This shows that Hamlet is obsessed with his mother because he cannot bear to think of his mother, Gertrude, even being close to Claudius let alone sleeping with him. TS Eliot would say that due to the speaking about not having the throne or even his own father`s death, this soliloquy would be about his mother and nothing else.On the other hand, Dover disagrees with this. He believes that Shakespeare had a particular interest in the subject of jealousy as he constantly included the subject in a lot of his work, especially in his Sonnets. John Dover Wilson also points out that TS Eliot doesn?t mention the fact that Gertrude`s relationship with Claudius is incestuous. At the beginning of Hamlet, Hamlet just refers to his mother as ?so loving to my mother? (1.2.140) but later on goes on to talk about women as a whole, ?Frailty, thy name is woman? (1.2.146), which would give the AUDIENCE the impression that he has a problem with women in general, rather than just his mother, and some people could say he suffers from misogyny, which means that someone just hates women all together.Later on in the play, in the scene between Opehlia and Hamlet which is Act 3 scene 1, it is made clear, as stated by Dover Wilson, that Hamlet has a problem with women in general rather than just his mother. ?You jig and amble, and you lisp, you nick-name God?s creatures? (3.2.146/7), this quote suggests that Hamlet has strong feelings on how women trick men with their charm and looks, rather than his feelings for his mother and her actions after his father?s death.The scene which follows Hamlet?s meeting with the ghost of Old Hamlet is similar to Hamlet?s first soliloquy, but Hamlet?s source of anger is different.Hamlet only mentions his mother once during this scene, ?O most pernicious woman? (1.5.105). This suggests that he is more wooried about what the ghost has said to him about his father?s murder. This supports Dover Wilson?s agrument that Hamlet?s ?antic disposition? is due to many factors not just purely his disgust with his mother.In Act 2, Scene 2 the ?double entry? comes into the play. Dover Wilson and TS E liot both have contrasting views on this section and both have enough evidence to agrue their view is correct. The question is whether Hamlet overhears Claudius, Gertrude and Polonius`s plan to set Hamlet up by secretly listening to Hamlet and Ophelia talking, when they will be behind aN mirror which they can see out of but Hamlet cant see in 9THAT’S ONLY IN KENNETH BRANAGH’S FILM VERSION. IN THE PLAY, THEY JUST HIDE BEHIND AN ARRAS- A WALL-HANGING0. Polonius is trying to prove to Claudius that it is Hamlet?s love for Ophelia that is the cause of his madness, where on the other hand, Claudius is trying to show that Hamlet is only pretending to be ?mad? and that there is more behind this uncharacteristic behaviour. We do not know when Shakespeare intended Hamlet to appear in this scene, but this would be crucial to find out whether the double entry is true or not.John Dover Wilson belives that the double entry in true andthat Hamlet knows that he is being spied on. It could well be that Hamlet enters the scene when Polonious says ? You know sometimes he walks for hours together here in the lobby? (2.1.160). John Dover Wilson thinks this is true and that Hamlet knows to put up a smoke screen and pretend that is was Ophelia?s rejection that has led to his madness.


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Mallory Schartz How far would you agree that Hamlet is “a play dealing with the effect of a mother’s guilt upon her son”? (TS Eliot, The Sacred Wood)TS Eliot and John Dover Wilson both have differing critical standpoints on Hamlet’s motivations and for the causes of his madness and melancholy. TS Eliot’s maintains that Hamlet is appalled with his mother’s behaviour and that Hamlet is, in principle, “a play dealing with the effect of a mother’s guilt upon her son”; however, he goes on to argue that her hasty marriage to his uncle Claudius is not terrible enough to lead to his emotional turmoil, therefore the play is a failure. On the other hand, Dover Wilson has evidence for believing that Hamlet has adequate reasons for his state of mind and melancholy: Hamlet’s motivation can be seen as the net result of a number of factors, which do include the ‘sins’ of his mother- more precisely, the possible incestuous relationship between Claudius and his mother- but, significantly, a range of other reasons, such as the murder of his father, his encounter with the ghost, the subsequent questioning his Protestant faith and the fact that Claudius is on the throne of Denmark and not him.

Dover Wilson argues that Hamlet’s issues with his mother and with women generally have their roots in simple jealousy, which appears in many of Shakespeare’s plays, rather than any Oedipal obsession (USE A QUOTE FROM JDW). He also comments on the fact that a Shakespearean audience would have seen Hamlet’s disgust for his mother as perfectly rational because it was considered incest if you married your in-law in the 17th century, because of the way Henry VIII used an obscure biblical reference to marriage between in laws being a form of incest. He was unable to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Through research, he discovered that it was an abomination against God to marry someone who has previously been married to your brother: this was the turning point for Henry VIII as Catherine had earlier been married to his elder brother.(EXPLAIN HOW THIS WOULD HAVE EFFECTED SHAKESPEARE’S FIRST AUDIENCE, ESPECIALLY IN THEIR RESPONSE TO THE FIRST SOLILOQUY) TS Eliot hints at the idea that Shakespeare was suffering from his own personal troubles to do with his mother, therefore was writing about himself. 9USE A QUOTE FROM ELIOT HERE)Hamlet’s first soliloquy (I.II.129) tends to favour TS Eliot’s arguments due to the fact that Hamlet’s main anger is focused on his mother’s “o’er hasty marriage”. The opening line, “O that this too too sullied flesh would melt”, suggests that Hamlet feels dirty, possibly because he has sexual feelings towards his mother. This is also evident when he struggles, on numerous occasions, to finish his sentences, for instance, “and yet within a month – Let me not think on’t –” (I.II.145/6). This implies that he is infatuated with her because he cannot bear to think of her with Claudius. TS Eliot would argue that, due to the lack of concern about not inheriting the throne and his father’s recent death, the first soliloquy shows that this is the main cause for his antagonism. However, Dover Wilson disagrees with this, “the strain, however, I associate, not with any mysterious complex, but with the more common-place derangement known as jealousy”. He believes that Shakespeare had a particular interest in the subject of jealousy as he repeatedly wrote about it, especially in the Sonnets. Dover Wilson also points out that TS Eliot doesn’t mention the fact about Gertrude’s relationship with Claudius being “incestuous” (I.II.157). At the beginning he just refers to his mother, “so loving to my mother” (I.II.140), yet goes on to generalize from his mother to all women, “Frailty, thy name is woman –” (I.II.146) giving the impression that he has an irrational disgust for women, pointing to an irrational disgust for his mother. Later on, in the scene between Hamlet and Ophelia (III.I), it is made apparent as stated by Dover Wilson, that Hamlet is indeed something of a misogynist rather than just having an uwholesome obsession with his mother. “You jig, and amble, and you lisp, you nick-name God’s creatures” (III.II.146/7) suggests that Hamlet has strong feelings about the way women trick men by using their femininity. (IS THIS AN ARGUMENT FOR ELIOT OR JDW? YOU SEEM TO BE ARGUING BOTH WAYS HERE!)The scene directly after Hamlet’s interaction with the Ghost of Old Hamlet is similar to his first soliloquy, however the source of anger is different. Hamlet only mentions his mother once, “O most pernicious woman” (I.V.105) which suggests that he is more concerned with the recent information about his father’s murder. This backs up Dover Wilson’s argument that Hamlet’s “antic disposition” is the result of many factors rather than purely disgust for his mother. (EXPAND THI- WHAT ARE HAMLET’S CONCERNS HERE IF NOT HIS MOTHER? REMEMBER TO ANALYSE QUOTATION)In Act 2, Scene 2 the “double entry” argument is brought into the play. T.S Eliot and Dover Wilson have opposing views on the matter and adequate evidence so support their beliefs. The question is whether Hamlet overhears Polonius, Gertrude and Claudius’ plan to set him up by secretly listening to Hamlet and Ophelia having a conversation. Polonius is trying to prove that it is Hamlet’s love for Ophelia that is the root of his madness, yet Claudius is suspicious that Hamlet is only pretending to be mentally unstable and there is more behind his unusual behaviour. We are unsure when Shakespeare wanted Hamlet to enter the scene, which is the crucial point in determining the double entry argument true of false. It is possible that Hamlet comes on when Polonius says, “You know sometimes he walks for hours together here in the lobby” (II.I.160). Dover Wilson believes this to be so and that Hamlet knows to act as if it is Ophelia’s rejection that has led to his emotional turmoil. Other evidence that Hamlet is present when they are discussing the plan is that he calls Polonius a “fishmonger”. (YOU NEED TO EXPLAIN THE DOUBLE MEANING OF FISHMONGER AND WHY IT’S REVEALING)The reason for this is that he knows he is using Ophelia for his own profit. It also relates back to Polonius stating that he will, “loose” his daughter to Hamlet. The word “loose” refers to sending a cow to mate with a bull when she is in heat. Polonious is comparing his daughter to a cow and treating her like a piece of meat, giving Hamlet a means to call him a “fishmonger”.

Hamlet changes the subject from, “sun breed maggots in a dead dog” (II.I.181) to “Have you a daughter?” (II.I.182). This implies that Hamlet feels that what Polonius is asking his daughter to do is disgusting. Hamlet also tells Polonius “Let her not walk i’th’ sun” (II.I.184) meaning don’t let her go down in the world by carrying out the plan. On the other hand T.S Eliot’s counterargument is that, due to his state of mind, he is just making it all up and has no meaning behind it. Hamlet could appear on stage just before he starts talking meaning he is unaware of the whole plan.Mallory


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Eleanor Cobbe How Far Would You Agree That Hamlet is “a Play Dealing With the Effect of a Mother’s Guilt Upon Her Son”? [T.S Eliot]There are many different views of Shakespeare’s Hamlet; the opinions of T.S Eliot and John Dover Wilson being of particular interest and dispute. T.S Eliot suggests that the cause of Hamlet’s madness, THE EXPLANATION FOR HIS MELANCHOLY AND THE MOTIVATION FOR HIS ACTIONS A is his mother’s hasty and incestuous marriage to his uncle Claudius. This leads him to suggest that the play is a failure because his mother’s actions are not sufficient to justify his subsequent actions and emotional turmoil. John Dover Wilson, on the other hand, believes that Hamlet’s anguish is the result of a combination of factors, such as the death of his father, the fact that his uncle has stolen his crown and THE TRAUMA OF ENCOUNTERING his dead father’s ghost which rocks his protestant beliefs. Dover Wilson would then assume that Hamlet’s actions were, if not justified, THEN AT LEAST understandable to the audience and therefore the play is not a failure.(USE A QUOTE FROM JDW HERE) T.S Eliot’s main reasoning behind suggesting that Hamlet is obsessed with his mother is that he is suffering from an Oedipus complex. 9CAREFUL- USE QUOTATION FROM JDW- ELIOT NEVER ACTUALLY SAYS THIS, ALTHOUGH HE DOES SUGGEST IT STRONGLY) This means that Hamlet is sexually attracted and obsessed with his mother and therefore he is envious of Claudius’ relationship with her. He is also feeling sexual jealousy because another man has taken his mother away from him and he can’t handle the idea of her being sexually impure.(MORE SIGNIFICANTLY, HE IS DISGUSTED WITH HIMSELF FOR HAVING SUCH PERVERSE FEELING FOR HIS MOTHER0 Eliot justifies this view by looking at the way Hamlet calls his mother’s sheets “incestuous” in his first soliloquy and suggests that the incest is in fact his own feelings over his mother as, in modern eyes, the relationship between his mother and his uncle is not incestuous.9YOU NEED TO LOOK AT THE FIRST SOLILOQUY IN A LOT MORE DETAIL, CONCENTRATING ON LANGUAGE AND ITS ALMOST COMPLETE FOCUS ON GERTRUDE RATHER THAN CLAUDIUS) However, Dover Wilson can argue this by saying that it was, in fact, incest at the time as Henry VIII had created the Protestant faith just 40 years ago (NOT CREATED THE PROTESTANT FAITH- THAT WAS MARTIN LUTHER- BUT RATHER THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND, WHICH IS A BRANCH OF PROTESTANTISM. PROTESTANS ARE SIMPLY ANYONE WHO CALLS THEMSELVES A CHRISTIAN BUT ISN'T A CATHOLIC)on the basis that marrying your brother in law was a sin, as read in the Bible. This HISTORICAL FACT weakens Eliot’s whole argument considerably, as it becomes apparent that the Shakespearean audience would have agreed with Hamlet and therefore it seems obvious that he was only talking about his mother and Claudius’ relationship. Dover Wilson also disagrees that this Oedipal theme is a reflection of Shakespeare’s own incestuous feelings for his mother, an idea that is portrayed in many of Shakespeare’s plays and hinted at by Eliot 9GO FURTHER INTO THIS, USE QUOTATIONS- ITS A BIT UNCLEAR AT THE MOMENT AND IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE SAYING MANY OF SHAKESPEARE'S PLAYS HAVE OEDIPAL THEMES, WHICH NEITHER JDW NOR ELIOT SUGGESTS- ELIOT JUST SAYS HAMLET IS MOTIVATED BY AN UNHEALTHY, POSSILY OEDIPAL, OBSESSION WITH HIS MOTHER, AND PERHAPS THIS CAN ONLY BE EXPLAINED BY SHAKESPEARE HAVING A SIMILAR PROBLEM WHICH HE WANTED TO WORK OUT THEOUGH EXPLORING IT IN THIS PLAY).Hamlet’s first soliloquy is the AUDIENCES’ first insight INTO his character. It reveals Hamlet’s emotional turmoil after the death of his father and the remarriage of his mother. Overall, the soliloquy focuses more on Hamlet’s anger towards his mother getting remarried rather than the fact that he isn’t King or his father’s death. His anguish is apparent from the fact that he cannot finish any sentence concerning his mother’s incestuous sexual relationship with his uncle, for example “…and yet within a month-“ [1.2.145] as if the thought of it sickens him to the point that he can’t even think of it. He has become incoherent at the thought of this incest, which is perhaps an indication of his tormented mental state as he is usually an extremely intelligent and eloquent character. This soliloquy shows that Hamlet is slowly being driven crazy by the thought of his mother’s incestuous relationship with Claudius more than any other factor. He has become incoherent and has almost hysterical thoughts about the idea and cant even bring himself to think about it sometimes. This would indicate that Eliot is correct in saying that Hamlet is extremely emotionally disturbed by the fact that his mother has married so quickly and that this is a huge factor of his eventual breakdown. However, at this point Dover Wilson could argue that Hamlet isn’t even aware of his father’s murder by his uncle and therefore of course he hasn’t mentioned it and it is not at the front of his mind. In the scene IMMEDIATELY AFTER HIS ENCOUNTER WITH THE ghost, Hamlet delivers his second soliloquy, which mainly concentrates on the issue of his father’s murder. Although Hamlet was relatively incoherent in the first soliloquy, his increasing amount of repetition and emphasis on words in the second indicates that he is now more distressed after seeing the ghost than he was with his mother incestuous and hasty marriage to Claudius. (VERY GOOD, BUT YOU NEED SOME QUOTES AND ANALYSIS HERE TO SUPPORT YOUR ASSERTIONS)This would mean that Dover Wilson was more accurate when he suggested that Hamlet’s madness was a culmination of factors such as his father’s death, his mother’s remarriage and his throne being stolen by his uncle. His mother is only mentioned in one line, “O most pernicious woman!” (1.5.105), which indicates that he has almost put it out of his mind at this point in the play. This again weakens T.S Eliot’s argument because it shows that it can’t have been that much of an issue for him.There is also a lot of evidence to suggest that Hamlet was also affected by a loss of faith after the appearance of the ghost. Dover Wilson would cite this as a major trigger for Hamlets emotional turmoil as it occurs just before Hamlet’s second emotionally charged soliloquy. This also has nothing to do with his mother and therefore he is not dealing with the effect of his mother’s sins. As Protestants do not believe in ghosts, they see them as angels or demons playing tricks on them, Hamlet is deeply confused and troubled by his sighting of the ghost. He may be unsure whether the ghost is merely a demon lying to him about being murdered and therefore faces a crisis – should he risk avenging his father’s death or not? However, this theory is contradicted by the fact that Hamlet calls it “thou poor ghost” (1.5.96) which indicates that he believes it really is the ghost of Old Hamlet. We can clearly see that he is a religious man because at the start of the soliloquy Hamlet wants resolve and strength to help him in his time of need. He asks Heaven for help and then Earth, then even considers asking Hell, as he is so desperate for inspiration and help, “O all you host of heaven! O earth! what else?/ And shall I couple hell?” (1.5.92). This shows that he is slowly turning crazy because he is even considering going against his faith to help him in his time of need. He says “grow not instant old” (1.5.94) because he doesn’t want to be paralysed by fear or misery at this crucial stage in his life where he has the responsibility and knowledge to take his life in his own hands. He also wants to be completely focused on avenging his fathers death and therefore must wipe his memory clean of anything that is unimportant, such as his mothers relationship with his uncle, “from the table of my memory/ I'll wipe away all trivial, fond records/ All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past”. By clearing all his past issues with his mother he can properly take care of Claudius. This indicates again that Gertrude is not one of the biggest issues in his life and that T.S Eliot was wrong to suggest that it was his mother’s sins that caused his insanity if he can dismiss it this quickly and if his fathers murder takes prevalence.ELLIE, word count 1269.


Lisa Ecclestone
How far would you agree that Hamlet is “a play dealing with the effect of a mother’s guilt upon her son.”? (TS Eliot, The Sacred Wood)

The critics TS Eliot and John Dover Wilson have very different opinions in what motivates the actions of Hamlet and the causes of his emotional turmoil. According to TS Eliot, Hamlet’s chief motivation and the principle cause of his melancholy is his disgust at his mother, Gertrude, caused by her quick remarriage to his uncle and his possible incestuous feelings towards her. DON’T LUMP THESE TWO IN TOGETHER- THEY ARE VERY DIFFERENT, ESPECIALLY AS THE ‘INCESTUOUS FEELINGS’ ALLEGATIONS IS PURELY A MATTER OF INTERPRETATION- THERE IS NO ABSOLUTE EVIDENCE FOR IT IN THE PLAY. USE A QUOTE FROM ELIOT TO SUPPPOT YOUR POINT HERE AND KEEP THE DISTINCTION CLEAR. Furthermore, he argues that the extent of Gertrude’s sins are not extreme enough to excuse Hamlet’s madness making the play “most certainly an artistic failure”. He argues this because he views Hamlet’s inability to express his feelings whilst talking about his mother as Shakespeare’s inability to express why Hamlet should be disgusted and angry at her and sees this as his failure as a writer. GOOD, BUT YOU AT LEAST NEED TO MENTION THE FIRST SOLILOQUY HERE EVEN IF YOU DON’T ACTUALLY ANALYSE IT AT THIS POINT IN YOUR ESSAY BUT LEAVE THAT UNTIL LATER. *
However, Dover Wilson argues that it is a number of different causes which motivates Hamlet in his madness, including: his father’s death and murder; Claudius usurpation of his crown; Ophelia’s rejection of his love; the betrayal of his as they are used as informants against him to Claudius; the disruption of his Protestant faith due to the ghost’s appearance as well as Gertrude’s hasty remarriage to his uncle. In his opinion it is the combination of these factors, not one solely, which cause his depression and which lies behind his ‘antic disposition’.

He also understands, due to one historical fact that TS Eliot seems to have overlooked, that Hamlet has full rights to being disgusted at his mother due to her “incestuous” (1.2.157) marriage to his uncle. I KNOW YOU’RE LEADING UP TO A FULL DISCUSSION OF THE FIRST SOLILOQUY, BUT IT STILL FEELS ODD TO LEAVE THIS POINT ‘HANGING’ HERE. YOU NEED TO FIND A WAY TO LEAD FROM * ABOVE INTO THIS AND THEN INTO *2 BELOW MORE CLEANLY.

*2 Essentially, both critics have valid points of view and evidence can be found for both throughout the play. TS Eliot argues that Hamlet’s motivation is purely disgust at his mother and this can be particularly seen in Hamlet’s first soliloquy. From the first soliloquy it is obvious that Hamlet’s mind is tormented, he is melancholic, angry and suicidal “Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d/ His canon 'gainst self-slaughter. O God!
God!” (1.2.131/2).
His state of mind is on the edge of emotional turmoil, and this is shown through the way he speaks: Shakespeare breaks the speech up with punctuation, creating pauses and stops, showing that Hamlet, an articulate individual, is made psychologically transparent through his incapability of expressing his thoughts- HIS SOLOLOQUY DOES NOT SIMPLY TELL THE AUDIENCE WHAT HE IS FEELING AND HIS CONFUSION- IT ENACTS THAT CONFUSION IN ITS CONFUSED, CHOPPED-UP EXPRESSION. His thoughts stall and don’t flow like those of an articulate person, in comparison to the speech Claudius gives at the beginning of the scene, which is calm, complex, well communicated and fluent. Furthermore there is the length of his sentences; “But two months dead-nay, not so much, not two-” (1.2.138).
They are short and occasionally unfinished again associating his inarticulateness with his emotional turmoil.
Furthermore, we can see in the content of the speech that the focus of Hamlet’s anger is his mother Gertrude. His irrationality communicates his particular anger at his mother not mourning long enough, as a widow should, and marrying just two months after her first husband’s death. Hamlet sees this as disrespectful to his father’s memory, but the main issue is arguably Hamlet’s APPARANT incapability in accepting his mother’s sexuality. His thoughts linger on his mother’s relationship with his uncle but every time he comes close to actually drawing on the fact that they are together, his thoughts change course “and yet within a month-/Let me not think on’t” (1.2.145/6).He cannot bare to think on his mother with Claudius. Although Hamlet seems disgusted by his mother there also seems to be an element of fascination there for him, explaining why his mind keeps drawing back to the subject.
This is arguable evidence to conclude that Hamlet has Oedipus complex, he is jealous of his mother and Claudius and when he says “With such
dexterity to incestuous sheets!” (1.2.156)
TS Eliot argues that Hamlet is describing his own disgust at his incestuous feelings towards his mother, as Gertrude’s and Claudius’ relationship would not be deemed incestuous as they are not blood related. He cannot express his disgust at himself for having incestuous feelings for his mother, which possibly echoes Shakespeare’s inability to express those types of feelings, which he may have suffered from as well. WELL ARGUED, THIS.
However Dover Wilson argues that TS Eliot is oblivious to one important historical fact. Gertrude’s and Claudius’ relationship would have been seen as incestuous by a Shakespearean audience, meaning that it would have not only been incestuous to Hamlet, but also to Shakespeare, the players at the globe and the audience. This is because whilst Henry VIII was looking for a loophole so he could divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn, he went to the Pope claiming to have found a law in the Bible saying that it was against god to marry your brother’s wife, and Catherine had been married to Henry’s older brother Arthur. So with Hamlet being in production only about fifty years after that point, their relationship would have been seen as incestuous, giving Hamlet every right, as far as a contemporary audience would be concerned, to be completely disgusted and angry at his mother.
Moreover, Dover Wilson argues that Hamlet’s apparent obsession with Gertrude disappears when he is pressed by more important issues, such as the appearance of the ghost. In the speech after the ghost’s appearance although we can see that Hamlet is yet again on the edge of emotional turmoil, it is most arguably not caused by Gertrude, but at the thought of revenge for his father and anger at his uncle murdering him. What is important in this speech for Dover Wilson is that Gertrude is only a subject of the speech for a few lines “O most pernicious woman! /O villain, villain, smiling damned villain!” (1.5.105) this implies that Hamlet has more important matters to express and arguably if he was obsessed with his mother, as TS Eliot argues, then no matter how distraught he would have been by the news of his father’s murder, he would have probably discussed her more.

Essentially Hamlet’s mind being on the brink of madness is caused by a mixture of matters, particularly here the new found knowledge of his father’s murder by his uncle and the loss of his religion in believing the ghost is his father. It is also possible that the subject of Gertrude arises because of the possibilty of her being involved in Old Hamlet’s murder. This can be infered because the ghost of Old Hamlet calls Claudius “that incestuous, that adulterate beast” (1.5.42). This could suggest that in death Old Hamlet has found out about an affair between Gertrude and Claudius whilst he was alive.
But in any case the main concern on Hamlet’s mind and the cause of Hamlet’s emotional turmoil is the new knowledge of Claudius murdering his father. Also from this scene Hamlet tells Horatio that his going “To put an antic disposition on-” (1.5.180), this means that he will not always mean what he says and intends to put on an act to stop arising suspicion.
Another factor in favour of TS Eliot’s view of Hamlet is Hamlet’s apparent misogynistic feeling towards women, shown through his behaviour towards his mother, Gertrude and also towards his lover Ophelia. The first bit of evidence for this in Hamlet’s first soliloquy where he says “Frailty, thy name is woman-” (1.2.146) in anger at Gertrude. He obviously models his idea of women on his mother and as he sees her as something of disgust instead of exclaiming “Frailty, thy name is Gertrude” he imagines all women as something that have earned his disgust, anger and disrespect. Of course when considering his treatment of Ophelia, one has to consider the so called ‘double entry argument’ and whether it is true or not, although this is open to interpretation by the director. YOU DO NEED TO EXPLAIN THE MECHANICS OF THE DOUBLE ENTRY AND THE REASONS FOR BELIEVING IT. If the double entry is true then Hamlet has overheard Polonius’ and Claudius’ plan to use Ophelia against him and to spy on him to find out what the cause of his malady is. This means when he is speaking to Ophelia he is acting to quell Claudius’ suspicions of him. So, it is possible that he is aware of Polonius’ and Claudius’ presence and is acting up for them. However TS Eliot thinks that double entry is not true and his treatment of Ophelia is just his misogynistic nature showing through “Get thee to a nunnery” (3.1.121) implying that he hates women as a whole because he uses Gertrude as a model for women in general and he feels disgust towards her. Also the fact that he proudly announces that he is “proud,
revengeful, ambitious” (3.1.125)
suggests that he has no knowledge of them being watched, after all he would not want Claudius to know that he was a likely threat to him.

Arguably, however, it could be partly because of both reasons. Hamlet has heard the plan and therefore decides to put on an act to please Polonius and Claudius, but psyches himself up so much that he starts believing what he is saying and it ceases to be an act, and he therefore shows his anger at Ophelia, for being used as a spy against him, by sexually bullying her and throws in subtle threats towards to Claudius “Those/ that are married already- all but one- shall live” (3.1.150) because he is worked himself up o much that he cannot control his feelings any longer.

Word Count- 1,549


Sinead Gervis

How far would you agree that, Hamlet is ?a play dealing with the effect of a mother?s guilt upon her son.?( TS Eliot, The sacredwood)?TS Eliot believes that Hamlet is a play dealing with the effect of a mother?s guilt upon her son and he also feels that the play is a failure WHY DOES HE THINK IT’S A FAILURE? YOU NEED TO CONNECT THE TWO POINTS TOGETHER- ELIOT DOES!. John Dover Wilson disagrees with this and suggests that Hamlet’s mother does have a part in Hamlet’s psychology, but only a part, a contributing factor along with many others factors such as old King Hamlet’s death, Claudius ruling Denmark and Hamlet himself not being king.In Hamlet’s first soliloquy the audience would perhaps expect him to talk about how he is not king or how upset he is about his fathers death, but instead the speech focuses almost obsessively on his mothers relationship with Claudius. You can see it in two ways, that Hamlet is upset as his mother married too quickly ?Would have mourned longer-married with my uncle, my fathers brother (But no more like my father that I to Hercules) within a month?. He thinks she moved on too quick after his fathers death. Or you can see it as he envies Claudius and wants his mother for himself. THIS NEEDS REDRAFTING- IT ISN’T CLEAR WHAT POINT YOU AR MAKING HERE AND WHICH INTERPRETATION IS FAVOURABLE TO WHICH CRITIC.TS Eliot thinks that the whole first soliloquy is AN EXPRESSION OF how Hamlet is jealous of his mother and has sexual feelings for her. Hamlet seems to think that Gertrude?s and Claudius? relationship is wrong and ?incestuous? .TS Eliot sees the word ?incestuous? as the way Hamlet feels for his mother and that if they did have a relationship it would be incest, but Dover Wilson thinks that this is talking about his mothers relationship with Claudius ,which back in the time when the play was first written it would have been seen as incest. AGAIN. THIS NEEDS TO BE EXPRESSED MORE CLEARLY, USING QUOTATIONS FROM THE PLAY ITSELF, FROM THE CRITICS AND AN EXPLANATION OF THE IMPORTANCE OF HENRY 8th’s DIVORCE FROM CATHERINE OF ARAGON.TS Eliot thinks that Hamlet has feeling for his mother because of how worked up he gets when talking about her and Claudius, he can barely talk or finish his sentences. He keeps talking about his mothers relationship with Claudius but cannot bring himself to say the words. ?Like niobe, all tears. Why, she-? ,He stops talking in the middle of a sentence, its almost as if he cannot get the image out of his mind but the words won?t come out either.Dover Wilson perhaps disagrees with this as he thinks that whenever Hamlet gets very upset he does not talk properly- THE INARTICULACY OF THE FIRST SOLILOQUY IS NOT LIMITED TO THOUGHTS OF HIS MOTHER, BUT TO ANY THOUGHTS THAT HAMLET FINDS PARTICULARLY UPSETTING. FOR EXAMPLE In Hamlets second soliloquy he is very angry with Claudius and THERE cannot bring himself to say Claudius? name. ?Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain.? When talking about Claudius he lists a lot of adjectives to avoid saying his name. So Dover Wilson argues that in Hamlets first soliloquy its not that Hamlet has feelings for his mother its just the fact that when he is upset he cannot express his feelings and finds it hard to talk. GOOD- THIS IS AN ORIGINAL AND INSIGHTFUL BIT OF ANALYSISIn Hamlets second soliloquy TS Eliot believes that even though he is angry with Claudius and at himself for not getting revenge ,his mother is still on his mind. Hamlet uses words like ?whore, drab and stallion?,’STALLION ISN’T- NOT SURE WHERE YOU GOT THAT FROM! These are all words for prostitutes or low women. Perhaps he uses these words to show he is still thinking about his mothers low behaviour. After Hamlet says this though, he starts to break down again and struggles to get his words out. ?A stallion! AHA- YOU MEAN ‘SCULLION’, NOT STALLION- LOWLY MAID, ASSUMED TO BE OF EASY VIRTUE.Fie upon?t, foh! About, my brain!? He uses a lot of punctuation. SO WHAT/? WHAT IS THE EFFECT/ AND HAMLET DOESN’T USE PUNCTUATION- SHAKESPEARE DOES!TS Eliot argues that he struggles to talk because he is thinking about his mother again but Dover Wilson thinks that its not just his mother it is because he is talking about women in general. AGAIN, THAT DOESN’T CONTRADICT WHAT ELIOT SAYS- HIS FEELINGS FOR HIS MOTHER LEAD HIM INTO DISGUST FOR HIMSELF AND THEREFORE DISGUST FOR ALL WOMEN WHO HE KNOWS HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE HIM FEEL ASHAMED OF HIS OWN PERVERSE SEXUALITY- IN ELIOT’S VIEW!T.S. Eliot does believe that Hamlet cannot get his words out when talking about his mother but he also thinks that? the play is certainly a artistic failure? , and he thinks perhaps Hamlet does not finish his sentences in the first soliloquy because Shakespeare could not think of what hamlet could say. USE A QUOTATION FROM ELIOT TO EXPLORE THIS FURTHERHamlets third soliloquy backs up Dover Wilson?s theory as it is difficult to see how Hamlet is upset about his mother in this as all he talks about is the crown not being his, law and office. Hamlet would rather trade in the pain of life for death.? But that the dread of something after death?, but he only wants to die if there is no after life, so he still wouldn?t be in pain after his death. Hamlet always thinks before he acts, and this is why he feels angry with himself because he wants to get revenge on Claudius. ?Thus does make cowards?, the reason he has not taken any action yet is because he is still not sure if the ghost was his father or not and if it was telling the truth.YOU NEED TO EXPLAIN THE MECHANICS OF THE DOUBLE ENTRY HERE In the ?Double entry? when Hamlet is talking to Ophelia his mother comes into it straight away and he talk about how he wishes he was not born but phrases it in a odd way. ?It were better my mother had not born me?. There is no need to involve his mother in this but he still cannot help but blame her. The double entry could be false as Hamlet uses the words ?revengeful? and ?ambitious? and he would not say this if Claudius was listening as it would make him suspicious. Also the double entry could be true as Hamlet asks Ophelia ?wheres your father??, then after he says this he starts laying into to Ophelia. Perhaps he didn?t know they were there until he asked , then by her answer he could tell so he started puttin on a act. Towards the end of talking to Ophelia he seems to get confused and caught up in the moment. He threatens Claudius by saying ?I say we will have no more marriage. Those that are married already-all but one-shall live.? This appears as Hamlet does know they are there but takes it a bit far and ends up making it obvious which makes Claudius suspicious of him.To find out if Claudius really is guilty Hamlet puts on ?the mouse trap?, which is a play in the play and Claudius? reaction will make up Hamlets mind to get revenge. NOT REALLY RELEVANT TO THE ESSAY, THIS COMMENT.

Word count 1,009