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Hamlet’s Idealism

Hamlet’s Idealism

Hamlet is many things: scholar, speaker, actor, and prince. His greatness shows in all of activities, save one: his inability to act. Hamlet is not able to avenge his father’s death without considerable delay. There is a flaw in Hamlet’s character that causes him to postpone the murder of Claudius – this flaw is Hamlet’s idealism. While idealism is normally a good trait, in this case, because of the unusual circumstances, Hamlet’s idealism causes great conflicts within him.

He was gifted with a great mind which he uses extensively. Hamlet believes that things should be inherently good, and that people’s motives should be fair. Consequently, he has a great deal of difficulty in coming to terms with all of the evil that is around him in a corrupt world. As Hamlet said himself, “‘Tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed; Things rank and gross in nature possess it merely” (Act I, sc ii).

One wonders how Hamlet can interact as well with his environment as he does; he has aluded many times that life is full of evil and deceit. He says to Rosencrantz that the world is a prison, in fact, “a sizable one, in which there are many jails, cells, and dungeons.” (Act II sc ii).

One also might expect him to be a very bitter person, but he is not. He is sometimes able to suppress his anger towards life in “prison”, sometimes not. This anger, however, coupled with his need for revenge, places a great amount of stress on Hamlet. Eventually, this stress became so great that it forced him to act.

But why did he wait until “point break” to do something? Perhaps Hamlet is not sure, even in his vast experience and knowledge, weather justice should be left in his hands; despite the…

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What Hamlet thinks is right, however, is based on his values. Among the two values which come into conflict in the play are his loyalty to his father, and his belief that murder of any kind is wrong. So he must not only make the very difficult decision to choose between two closly held values, but he must also act on his decision – something which proves to be far more difficult.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Boklund, Gunnar. “Judgment in Hamlet.” Essays on Shakespeare. Ed. Gerald Chapman. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965.

Levin, Harry. General Introduction. The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1974.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. No line nos.

Canterbury Tales Essay: The Character of the Prioress

The Character of the Prioress in The Canterbury Tales

In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer writes a prologue in which characters are given at face value. Then, he writes tales that are spoken by these characters. Perhaps Chaucer is commenting that people should not judge others by their outward appearance because the differences in the outward character of Chaucer’s travelers are often greatly different than the personality that is shown through their tales.

The Prioress is one character that appears differently than her tale reveals. The Prioress’s tale is about the brutal murder of a young Jewish boy. It is a tale of deep-seeded anti-Semitic hatred and fierce violence. In the general prologue, the narrator has a very different surface impression of the Prioress. Perhaps it is simply because the presumed male narrator is so taken by the Prioress’s beauty that he failed to see any cues given that may have led him to see the Prioress’s true identity. However, the Prioress is portrayed as being beautiful and refined, feminine and sensitive, innocent and sweet.
One of the first things that the narrator mentions in the prologue about the Prioress is that she is seemingly educated. He says, “She sang the divine service well, entuning it in her nose in a most seemly way.” This means that she was probably at least educated in the ways of the church, if not at a school. He goes on to mention that “she spoke French well and properly, after the school of Stratford-at-Bow—” She knew how to speak French but he goes on to say that “the French of Paris was unknown to her,” so while she was very book educated, she was not worldly.

In the ta…

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…ch that she may have led a much happier life in Germany in the 1940’s. What is it that has made this seemingly polite, caring woman hate a group of people she most likely has never met? We never find out in the tale or the prologue, but we can suspect that Chaucer wants us to believe that the evil church has poisoned this innocent mind with hatred towards Jews, amongst other things.

The Prioress is just one example of the many flip-flop characters in Chaucer’s tales. On the outside, the Prioress appears to be someone who your parent’s wish you were like. However, once you get to know the Prioress through her tale, you wonder if she should instead join Hell’s Angels. Her thirst for the death of the young Jewish boy makes her frightening, if not almost evil, but at least she wipes her mouth neatly with a napkin.

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