“Passion vs Reason in Hamlet”
In life, as in literature, passion and reason often collide, and can at times cause people to make poor decisions. William Shakespeare often used this conflict as a basis for his plays. In a Shakespearean tragedy, passion and reason typically clash when the death of a loved one is involved. The passion that the character has will become his or her tragic flaw. Shakespeare’s play Hamlet is no exception. In Hamlet passion and reason collide as the protagonist, Hamlet, grieves the loss of his father.
Before the conflict between passion and reason in Hamlet can be truly understood, it is important that it is understood what these two things are, as well as how this type of clash may arise. Passion can be defined as a “strong feeling (such as anger) that causes you to act in a dangerous way” (Merriam-Webster.com). Reason, on the other hand, is “sound judgment” (Dictionary.com). It is easy to see how these two emotions can collide when the death of a loved one is involved. Revenge can also play a large role in this type of clash, and can cause the passion to surge even more. This is the case in the play Hamlet. In this Shakespearian tragedy, as the protagonist Hamlet deals with the loss of his father, he struggles with hamartia as these two emotions collide inside of him.
The first time that the conflict between passion and reason can be observed in Hamlet is in Act 1, Scene 2. During this act, Hamlet talks to King Claudius and his mother, Queen Gertrude. Claudius is Hamlet Senior’s brother, who married Hamlets mother soon after Hamlet Senior’s death, and, therefore became the new king of Denmark. Gertrude is Hamlet’s mother, who married Claudius soon after her first husband’s death. During this act,...
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...reason, however, he would have taken Claudius’ life at the opportune moment, while he was praying. If Hamlet had done this, he could have spared the lives of both his mother and himself.
It is clear that the conflict between passion and reason caused many events to transpire throughout Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. Throughout the play, Hamlet’s passion caused him to make rash decisions, murder several people, and get into bitter arguments with his mother. If Hamlet had controlled his passion, he could have avoided all of this. Instead of taking justice into his own hands, Hamlet could have informed the authorities, and usurped his uncle from the throne. This would have saved the lives of Polonius, Gertrude, and even Hamlet. In literature, as in life, passion often overtakes reason, and causes people to make poor, and rash, decisions.
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