The Flaw of Excessive Thought in Shakespeare's Hamlet

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The Flaw of Excessive Thought in Hamlet In Hamlet, Shakespeare has his troubled title character dejectedly sigh the words, "there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so" (II.ii.255). With this line, Hamlet unwittingly defines the underlying theme of the play. The tragedy of Hamlet is based on conflicts produced when Hamlet and another character have conflicting feelings of what is "good or bad." Ophelia dies for the conflict between Hamlet's romantic love and Polonius and Laertes's protective caution. Hamlet himself is torn between whether to consider his father's ghost as an angel or a demon. The prince's final decision rests on the very basic necessity of life itself, and whether continuing to live is worth the pain of living. Ophelia dies because of the conflict between Hamlet's love and Polonius's paternal concern for his daughter. The young lovers can find nothing bad at all about their relationship, and in fact, Hamlet's mother would love nothing better than to see the two wed (V.i.267-269). Polonius and Laertes, on the other hand, have observed Hamlet's brooding, pensive mood after the elder Hamlet's death, and are wary of his uncertain motivations. Laertes tells Ophelia that Hamlet's love for her is merely "a violet in the youth of primy nature, forward, not permanent -- sweet, not lasting; the perfume and suppliance of a minute, no more" (I.iii.7-10). Both father and brother warn Ophelia that Hamlet's motivation for wooing her are solely, or at least mostly, political, not romantic. "He may not, as unvalued persons do, crave for himself, for on his choice depends the safety and health of this whole state" (I.iii.19-21). Between the opposition from Polonius and the matters of revenge... ... middle of paper ... ...life itself, is "good or bad". It is the conflict in Hamlet's soul between good and bad that causes the outward conflicts with other characters which lead to his eventual downfall in Act V. No event in itself would have triggered such a devastating shock to young Hamlet without his pondering its implications as he does. Nothing would have been so good or bad, had it not been for Hamlet's thinking which made it so. Works Cited and Consulted: Berkeley, George. A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge. 1710. Ed. Kenneth Winkler. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1982. Berman, Allison. "We Only Find Ourselves." Hamlet reaction papers. Wynnewood: FCS, 2000. Lugo, Michael. "Thus Conscience Does Make Cowards of Us All." Hamlet reaction papers. Wynnewood: FCS, 2000. Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. Sylvan Barnet. New York: Signet Classic, 1998.
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