We live in a curious age of, tabloids, talk shows, and TV sound bites that purvey a shocking type of tawdry news. These sources of scandal make a lucrative business out of outrageous headlines. But this is nothing new. Mankind has always had burning desire for uncovering secret truths--even in the time of Shakespeare. For as Polonius said, "If circumstances lead me, I will find/Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed/Within the center" (2.2.158-60). The implication is that we are somehow better off in knowing the furtive facts.
But are we better off in knowing such things? Since the time of Shakespeare, human nature has remained fairly constant. With this in mind, many moral lessons of yesteryear can be directly applicable today. But what was wise William trying to tell us when he wrote Hamlet? Certainly, there may have well been a myriad of sub-themes and morals to the story, but there is one theme that stands out. From the ghostly revelation of King Hamlet, to the searching espionage of Polonius, we see that there is a self-destructive human weakness at work that desires hidden, forbidden knowledge. Likewise, we find a message regarding the morality of this meddling in the lives of others. When considering the end results, we learn that much of what we don't know, we really don't need to know. The information is separated from us for a reason. If we persist in seeking out what is hidden, we may very well be violating the laws of our own survival. In addition, we may not even be capable of understanding the truth at all. Or, as Jack Nicholson would say, "You can't handle the truth!"
Yet, who among us could resist a message from the ...
... middle of paper ...
...he Shapes of Revenge: Victimization, Vengeance, and Vindictiveness in Shakespeare." Early Modern Literary Studies 4.1 (May, 1998): 5.1-6 http://purl.oclc.org/emls/04-1/rev_goo6.html.
Murfin, Ross C. "Deconstruction and Hamlet." Wofford. 283-293.
---. "Feminist Criticism and Hamlet." Wofford. 208-215.
---. "Psychoanalytic Criticism and Hamlet." Wofford. 241-251.
Pitt, Angela. "Women in Shakespeare's Tragedies." Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from Shakespeare's Women. N.p.: n.p., 1981.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. T. J. B. Spencer. New York: Penguin, 1996.
West, Rebecca. "A Court and World Infected by the Disease of Corruption." Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from The Court and the Castle. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1957.
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