1. According to Braunmuller, Hamlet presents several “questions both common and insoluble.” Give an example, citing act, scene, and line numbers. Explain what is “common and insoluble” about the question.
One of the most well known examples of a question that is both common and insoluble within Hamlet is “To be, or not to be” (III.1.56) where he is contemplating the value of life. This question is common as many people think about the reason for life and if they have a specific purpose or simply to explore the realities of life. Many people also begin to think about the afterlife and what happens once someone dies. This is what makes this question common but it is insoluble because no one truly knows the answer to the purpose of life or what happens once you die. Everyone has a different interpretation for the reason or purpose of living from theories created from religion or spiritual beliefs are all different from those created in each individuals mind. Then when it comes to the afterlife no one has any way of truly telling what it is like once you die. Some people have near death experiences but in that time period it is hard to say if they simply went on a journey in their own mind or if they truly went into the afterlife and returned. These uncertainties are what make the question of the purpose of life and the inquiry of the after life so insoluble.
2. According to Braunmuller, Hamlet explores “the labyrinthine ironies of human purpose and human error.” Explain. Give an example, citing act, scene, and line numbers.
Hamlet explores the same ironies of human purpose and human error as most humans in that he is searching for the reason of his existence and on that journey he makes several mistakes. Hamlet seems to find his reason for living once he speaks with his fathers ghost and decides that he must avenge his father’s death by murdering Claudius. On this journey Hamlet begins to formulate a very intricate plot to achieve a rather simple goal, which is one error that many humans engage in. Many people tend to over think, over analyze, and over complicate their situation which then leads them to further human error. When he goes to confront his mother in her chambers and hears someone behind the curtain he again overcomplicates his situation by immediately stabbing through the curtains rather than taking the extra few moments to ensure that it is Claudius.