The existence of considerable irony within the Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet is a fact recognized by most literary critics. This paper will examine the play for instances of irony and their interpretation by critics.
In his essay “O’erdoing Termagant” Howard Felperin comments on Hamlet’s “ironic consciousness” of the fact that he is unable to quickly execute the command of the ghost:
Our own intuition of the creative or re-creative act that issued in the play also assumes a struggle with the literary past, but one of a more complex nature. It would seem to be Hamlet who is unable to impose successfully the model of an old play upon the intractable material of his present life, and Shakespeare who dramatizes with unfailing control the tragic conflict between his heroic effort to do so and his ironic consciousness that it cannot be done, with the inevitable by-products of hesitation and delay. (107-108)
Right at the outset of the drama, there is irony exhibited in the manner in which Shakespeare characterizes King Claudius – he is simply the perfect ruler – and yet, shortly hereafter when the ghost appears, he is revealed as a truly evil sort. George Lyman Kittredge, in his book, Five Plays of Shakespeare, describes the Bard’s excellent characterization of Claudius:
King Claudius is a superb figure – almost as great a dramatic creation as Hamlet himself. His intellectual powers are of the highest order. He is eloquent – formal when formality is appropriate (as in the speech from the throne), graciously familiar when familiarity is in place (as is his treatment of the family of Polonius), persuasive to an almost superhuman degree (as in his manipulation of the i…
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…go: Greenhaven Press, 1996.
Rose, Mark. “Reforming the Role.” Modern Critical Interpretations: Hamlet. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.
Rosenberg, Marvin. “Laertes: An Impulsive but Earnest Young Aristocrat.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from The Masks of Hamlet. Newark, NJ: Univ. of Delaware P., 1992.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html No line nos.
Wright, Louis B. and Virginia A. LaMar. “Hamlet: A Man Who Thinks Before He Acts.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Ed. Louis B. Wright and Virginia A. LaMar. N. p.: Pocket Books, 1958.
America Needs Freight Trains
Our homes are filled with stuff. Some of it is essential, such as a stove and a toilet, but much of it is superfluous and properly classified as “wants” rather than “needs,” such as wallpaper or DVD players. An inventory of the items found in our homes would undoubtedly produce a list of substantial length. Where did it all come from? A trip to the mall and we glean insight. But how does all this stuff get there? This is an important question for several reasons. In particular, a closer look at the means by which goods are transported reveals much about our economic, environmental and social commitments.
There are obviously many ways in which products make it to us. To get materials from overseas obviously requires ships or aircraft. Once items have arrived on our continent, trucks and trains become available. Each of these two land-based forms of transportation has advantages and disadvantages, yet the continued shift from rails to highways for transporting and distributing freight should concern us. Let’s find out why.
The train-truck debate has been brewing as long as interstates connected major centers of commerce. While railroads reigned supreme for over one-hundred years going back to Abraham Lincoln’s time, trucks are an increasingly visible form of transporting goods over land. (Trains still transport more freight however.) The transition from rail lines to interstates occurred over a significant period of time and involved many governmental organizations and pieces of legislation-most notably, the Interstate Commerce Commission (which began the regulation of the railroads in 1887) and the various Federal Aid Highway Acts (which provided the impetus and funding for paved landscapes). Yet, few environmental considerat…
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Locally, as well, there may be a great deal to gain from a resurgence in train usage, particularly at a time when industrial jobs are fleeing us rapidly. The railroads helped put our town on the map in its formative years. Perhaps we need to look to our rails for future economic assistance.