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E316 Fall 2010 Students' Blog

Erica Canup on Hamlet, Act 1

Published by admin_main on Sat 30 Oct, 2010

5. In Act 1, Scene 3, Ophelia first listens to her brother's departing sermon about chastity and politics, and then faces her father Polonius. How does this counselor understand Hamlet's attentions to Ophelia? What advice does he give his daughter?

After Polonius gives Laertes very good advice he turns his attention to his daughter and asks about her relationship with Hamlet. It appears that many people have been telling him about how Ophelia has been spending much time with him. He immediately scoffs at her when she says that he has been giving her affections saying on pg. 349 in lines 101-103 "Affection, pooh! You speak like a green girl/Unsifted in such perilous circumstance/ Do you believe his 'tenders' as you call them?" He treats her as if her feelings for Hamlet are completely irrelevant and that she would be stupid to believe that he really loves her. In lines 105-110 he tells her she is foolish and that in her foolishness she will make others think him to be a fool as well. Polonius here shows again that he does not care whether or not Ophelia has affections for Hamlet, only that she is being a silly girl in his eyes and worried about his own reputation. In the last part of his speech he further chastises her for believing that Hamlet's affections for her might be true and tells her to stay away from him. His final advice is for her not to waste any more time with Hamlet, but rather to be wise and listen to him.

6. In Act 1, Scenes 4-5, the ghost beckons Hamlet to a private audience. On what grounds might the ghost's demands be considered reasonable? On what grounds might they be considered unreasonable? (Is it appropriate for a Christian to take revenge? Where does the revenge code come from?)

The ghost's demands could be considered reasonable for several reasons. For one he seem wary of the other men who are around, he is not sure if he can trust them with this information and therefore wants to talk to his son about it in private. Also, if he were to tell his tale to all the men it is possible that they could turn around and tell all of Denmark what they have seen and heard, including Claudius. This would ruin Hamlet's chances at revenge. After he is given the information even Hamlet himself is afraid to tell his friends what has happened, making them swear several times in several different ways that they will not tell anyone. The ghost even chimes in during the last part of the scene urging the men to swear that they will not speak of what they have seen. The reason one could consider it unreasonable is because by taking Hamlet away the ghost seems to be recognizing that asking Hamlet to take revenge on Claudius is wrong. While King Hamlet's ghost does have a reason to seek revenge, being a Christian it is not right for him to do so. It says in Romans 12:19 "Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord" clearly stating that Christians are not to take revenge. The ghost takes Hamlet away in private to reveal what happened to him and to help him seek out revenge, even if it is a sin.

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