Truth about IdealismsPage 1 of 4The Truth about Idealisms in Hamlet Lindsey Purves Mr. Kabachia Humanities 30-1 January 17, 2012
Truth about IdealismsPage 2 of 4 The ideal human, perfection at its finest; the ideal family, held together by the ultimateperfection of love; the ideal opportunity, presented only in a fleeting moment that must becaptured or forever lost; a seemingly too perfect reason for revenge.Hamlet presents some of ourmost idyllic ideals in a universally understood manner that can either dash our hopes for a happyending, or give us a false sense of happiness that will leave us stunned and bewildered,questioning our own ideals and how it impacts those around us. Through Hamlets conversation with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern we are shownHamlets ideal human. “What a piece of work is a / man! how noble in reason! how infinite infaculty! in / form and moving how express and admirable! in / action how like a / god! the beautyof the world! the paragon of animals! / And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? / mandelights not me…” [2, 2, 303-309]Hamlet sees the potential in the human creature and alsorealizes that humans are imperfect and always will be. This knowledge does not prevent Hamletfrom seeing humans as lower beings than what they should be; a disappointment in his eyes.What Hamlet fails to accept is that man can only strive for perfection but the truth of it all is thathumans are not ideal and we should not expect our own kind to be perfect, nor becomedisappointed when we never reach our ideal state of being. Hamlet holds love and marriage in the highest regard, being an attainable ideal that isnever perfect but that we wish was. He perceived the loving marriage between his father, HamletSir, and his mother Gertrude to be unbreakable and ever-lasting before Sir Hamlets death andthe remarriage of the queen. “(Sir Hamlet) so loving to my mother, / That he might not beteemthe winds of Heaven / Visit her face too roughly… and yet, within a month… married with mineuncle, / My father’s brother, but no more like my father / Than I to Hercules” [1, 2, 140-142/145/151-153] Hamlet sees Claudius as just the man that cleaved his perfect life in two, the
Truth about IdealismsPage 3 of 4killing of Sir Hamlet aside. Hamlet’s ideal family is similar to what most humans would desire toattainbut tragedies like the death of a father would prevent this ideal from coming to fruition.Hamlet shows us that life and love are and always will be, imperfect in one way or another, nomatter how hard we try to perfect them. “Now I might do it pat, now he is praying; / And now I’ll do’t: and so he goes toHeaven…No / Up, sword; and know thou a more horrid hent: / When he is drunk asleep, or inhis rage, / Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed, / At gaming, swearing, or about some act /That has no relish of salvation in’t: / Then trip him, that his heels may kick at Heaven / And thathis soul may be as damn’d and black / As hell, whereto it goes.” [3, 3, 74-75/88-96]Inaction andprocrastination: Hamlets two tragic flaws. The ideal opportunity to kill his uncle Claudius inhamlets eyes is when the king is committing one of his various misconducts. This way his spiritwill not be accepted into Heaven, a just punishment for murdering his brother. Little doesHamlet know, as Claudius kneels praying, that this was in fact a perfect opportunity to avengehis father, for Claudius knows he cannot pray and so his prayers are only a pretense.Through alack of knowledge and will, we may miss out on a perfect opportunity to accomplish somethinglife-altering, just like Hamlet hesitating to avenge his father because of that possibility ofClaudius going to Heaven in his after-life. We find out in the beginning of the play that Hamlet is unhappy with having his unclemarried to his mother and is itching for a reason to be rid of the new king. The ghost of SirHamlet provides a reason that sounds too good to be true:“The serpent that did sting thy father’slife / Now wears his crown.” [1, 5, 39-40]This is one of the rare instances where something toogood to be true actually turns out to be correct. Be this as it may, Hamlet is still cautious enoughnot to jump at the chance to be rid of Claudius, putting off the murder until he is absolutely sure
Truth about IdealismsPage 4 of 4Claudius did in fact kill Hamlet Sir. Waiting turns out to be a bad move on Hamlet’s part but itshows how frightened humans are of the unknown that we will go to great lengths to be certainof a truth before acting on it, for better or for worse. The truth about ideals according to Hamlet is that they are unattainable if you do not havethe motivation to pursue them when opportunities present themselves, nothing and no one isperfect, and sometimes chances need to be taken in order to come closer to living out an ideal.