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Essay on the Manipulation of Polonius and Ophelia in Hamlet

The Manipulation of Polonius and Ophelia in Hamlet

The main plot of Shakespeare’s Hamlet centers around Prince Hamlet’s desire to repay King Claudius for his evil deeds. Around this central action revolve the stories concerning the minor characters of Polonius and Ophelia. Though they do not motivate Hamlet’s actions towards the King, these characters act as forces upon Hamlet himself, trying to spur him to do things he does not want to do. Both Polonius and Ophelia try, unsuccessfully, to manipulate Hamlet into a place of inferiority.

In the first scene of Act II, Polonius and Ophelia discuss the meaning of Hamlet’s odd behavior. Though the two characters agree his actions arise out of the torment of spurned love, they arrive at that point through very different means. At the beginning of the dialogue, Ophelia says that she has been “affrighted” by Hamlet in her bed chamber. (II,i 75) Her encounter with the Prince left her scared about his real intentions. She says that he looks like he has been,”loosed out of hell/To speak of horrors”. (II,i 83-4) The very fact that Hamlet does not speak one word to Ophelia makes him look even more intimidating. By not speaking anything, Hamlet at once strengthens his image as a madman, as well as shrouding his real intentions towards those around him. Just following this passage comes a place in the text where we can see how the character of Ophelia has been manipulated by Polonius. After his “hint” that he might be doing this out of frustrated love, Ophelia says that that is what she truly does fear. (87) Her feelings of pity and concern are shaped by her father in order to fit his case of madness against Hamlet.

To further strengthen this situation, Polonius’…

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…f the situation before he enters it, while Polonius and Ophelia must try to understand events as, or after they happen.

Works Cited

Bradley, A.C. “Shakespeare’s Tragic Period–Hamlet.” Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. Toronto: MacMillan, 1967. 79-174.

Campbell, Lily B. Collected Papers Of Lily Campbell. NY: Russell, 1968.

Lidz, Theodore. Hamlet’s Enemy: Madness and Myth in Hamlet. Vision Press, 1975.

MacKenzie, Agnes Mure. The Women in Shakespeare’s Plays. London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1924.

Northrop, Frye. “Hamlet.” Northrop Frye on Shakespeare. Ed. Robert Sandler. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986. 82-100.

Oakes, Elizabeth. “Polonius, the Man behind the Arras: A Jungian Study.” New Essays on Hamlet. Ed. Mark Thornton Burnett and John Manning. NY: AMS Press, 1994. 103-112.

Light and Sight in The Good-Morrow

Light and Sight in The Good-Morrow

John Donne’s poetry deals with themes of creation and discovery. In his work “The Good-Morrow,” these issues are discussed through the use of poetic symbols. Donne gives major emphasis to the sense of sight as a way of discovering pure love.

The first stanza contains images of sleep and, more generally, the ways in which one’s eyes can be closed to the world. Donne uses phrases like “not weaned” (2), “childishly” (3), and “dream” (7), to suggest the idea that when one’s eyes are closed, there is more than light that is denied from the sense of sight. In the visual example given, his imagery goes beyond that which is normally associated with the absence of light. Figuratively speaking, the narrator is talking about the light which comes from being knowledgeable about the ways of the world. In this sense, to have a “dream” of someone is to look at an illusion (7). This presents an interesting paradox. When talking about issues of blindness and sight, one necessarily assumes that some kind of light is present. Sight only comes into play when one is either denied vision or given the privilege of vision in the material world. To the speaker, a world without the presence of light has no concept of basic form. The last two lines of the first stanza deal with this issue. Those lines state,”If ever any beauty I did see,/Which I desired, and got, ‘twas but a dream of thee.” (6-7) Though the speaker is in a place where there is no light, within the world of the sleeping dream, shades of “beauty” have come to him, and he has mistook them for the true light of beauty introduced in the next stanza.

Throughout stanza two, images waking into the daylight world replace the dark images of slee…

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…Through the act of looking, the outside world can be viewed as a direct manifestation of the power of true love. The opening line of this stanza reads,”My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,” (15) Giving the reader an image showing the circular reflection of a face within an eye suggests the form of a world existing within the gaze of the speaker. The reflected image is actually a world of potential, filled with hope of love, that creates a light all its own. The last lines of the poem allude to this,”If our two loves be one, or thou and I/Love so alike that none do slacken, none can die.” (20-1) The speaker, and perhaps Donne himself, is given the power of life eternal through the love he finds in his partner’s eyes. Their “two loves” are truly “one” if by the grace of their emotions for each other, they can imagine a life together where,”none can die”

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