Rational Action vs Emotional Action in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

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In Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet, the idea of rational action versus emotional action plays a big role. It is seen very clearly throughout the entirety of the play in various scenes, but specifically through Hamlet’s first soliloquy. Rational is defined as “based on facts or reason and not on emotions or feelings, and also as having the ability to reason or think about things clearly.”(Merriam-Webster) However, emotional is defined as “dominated by or prone to emotion.”(Merriam Webster) The two ideas are related for the fact that they both deal with emotion. The difference between the two will become clear as they apply to Hamlet and the shift Young Hamlet portrays, through his soliloquy, from rational action to emotional action. Hamlet’s soliloquy is able to encompass his ever-changing feelings and emotions into one. There are examples of both rational and emotional action throughout its entirety. It develops all of Hamlet’s personal issues and also foreshadows what is to come throughout the rest of the play. The beginning of the soliloquy is of utmost importance because it shows not only Hamlet’s ability to think rationally, but it also shows an emotional side as well. Hamlet: O that this too too sallied flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew! Or that the everlasting had not fix’d His canon against [self-]slaughter! O God, God, (1.2.130-132) Through the first part of his soliloquy we see that he seems to be talking to God about the fact that suicide is a sin. It is inferable that Hamlet is contemplating suicide, which seems to be the first indicator of emotional action, but also rati... ... middle of paper ... ....2.146) The point Vanrigh is attempting to make is that Hamlet believes the reason that Gertrude married Claudius is because of her lustful desires or sensual weakness. All of these things described had a part in the emotionality of Hamlet, but his mother was the leading contender in why his transition occurred. Works Cited Wofford, Susanne Lindgren. William Shakespeare, Hamlet. Boston: Bedford of St. Martin's, 1994. Print. "Rational." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2013. “Emotional.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2013. Crunelle-Vanrigh, Anny (1997). "'Too Much in the (Black) Sun': Hamlet's First Soliloquy, A Kristevan View". Renaissance forum (1362-1149), 2 (2). Levy, Eric. “The problematic Relation between Reason and Emotion in Hamlet.” Renascence 53, no. 2 (winter 2001)

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