Tuesday, August 23, 2016

shakespeareinyourface.blogspot.com



This is Mris. Eliot.  Just watch yourself, ok?


B-D  Find out what Renaissance Humanism is and who Sir Thomas Elyot was. Tell us about them, and what they have to do with one another.

G-R  Find out what Renaissance Humanism is and who Sir Thomas More was. Tell us about them, and what they have to do with one another.

S  Find out what Renaissance Humanism is and who Desiderius Erasmus was. Tell us about them, and what they have to do with one another.

Hubley, Cornewell   Please find a brief passage (10 lines max) from Skelton's The Tunning of Elynour Rummyng, tell us what it says, and why the section you chose is crucial to the poem as a whole.

Monday, August 22, 2016

L309 / B622 syllabus

Dr M L Stapleton ∙ ENG L309 ∙ Elizabethan Poetry
Fall 2016 ∙ TR 4.30-5.45 ∙ LA 116
Office: LA 105 ∙ Hours: by appointment


Text: Loughlin, et al., eds, The Broadview Anthology of Sixteenth-Century Poetry and Prose
Please always bring your text to class. Internet copies of our texts are often unreliable if you use a tablet or laptop instead of an actual book.
Please turn off your phone.
Please do not get up and leave while class is in session for any reason without asking permission first.

8/23 (T) Introductions, fear and trembling
8/25 (R) NO CLASS
8/30 (T) Skelton, Elynour Rummyng (1)
9/1 (R) 9/6 (T) 9/8 (R) Wyatt and Surrey in Tottel’s Miscellany (188-97)
9/13 (T) 9/15 (R) 9/20 (T) 9/22 (R) Baldwin, Mirror [Richard II (281); Cade (284); Induction (291); Jane Shore (299)]; Anne Dowriche, Bloody Marriage, Butcherly Murder (619); Anne Locke (214); Isabella Whitney (379)
9/27 (T) 9/29 (R) Gascoigne (363-75); Greville (670); Ralegh, poetry (110-19); Mary Sidney (745)
9/30 (F) paper due
10/4 (T) 10/6 (R) Campion (1270); Daniel, Delia (945); Davies, Epigrams (1137); Southwell (1101)
10/7 (F) midterm due; 10/11 (T) no class
10/13 (R) 10/18 (T) Drayton, Idea’s Mirror (1094); Epistles (1095)
10/20 (R) 10/25 (T) Sidney, Astrophil and Stella (677-86)
10/27 (R) 11/1 (T) Marlowe, “Passionate Shepherd” handout; Marlowe, Hero and Leander (1213-25)
11/3 (R) 11/8 (T) 11/10 (R) Shakespeare, sonnets (1079-89)
11/15 (T) 11/17 (R) 11/22 (T) 11/29 (T) 12/1 (R) 12/6 (T) 12/8 (R) Spenser, Faerie Queene, Book 1 (821-926)
11/24 (R) no class; 12/12 (M) final exam due

GUIDELINES

1. Attendance: You are allowed five (5) absences for any reason you choose. Students who miss more than this will fail the course, without exception, regardless of circumstances. I do not distinguish between “excused” and “unexcused” absences, nor am I responsible for material that you miss because you are absent. Students who miss
the attendance call (the first five minutes of class) will be marked absent; students who get up and leave in the middle of class will be marked absent. Please take care of your rest room issues BEFORE class.

2. Your paper and take-home exams are due on the scheduled non-class dates by 9 a.m. via email: 30 September, 7 October, 12 December. Late papers = 0. No exceptions. These will be short, 4-6 pp. Your paper and first exam may be revised after meeting with the instructor in the office and discussing your plans.

3. Plagiarism: it should go without saying that students are also expected to do their own work; indebtedness to secondary materials (either printed or electronic) must be clearly indicated so as to avoid plagiarism:
—(piecemeal) using someone else’s words and phrases as if they were your own, not pararphrasing or summarizing
properly, even with proper documentation;
—(grotesque) using someone else’s ideas as if they were your own, without proper documentation;
—(more grotesque) allowing someone else to write your paper for you.

PLEASE DO NOT BE A PLAGIARIST! THIS IS UNNECESSARY, AS WELL AS UNETHICAL

4. The course grade will be determined by a rough averaging together of your essay on an assigned topic, takehome midterm, and take-home final exam, and the less formal writing I will assign. I reserve the right to take additional factors into account; improvement, class participation, and, of course, attendance. Grades are notnegotiable, personal, or subject to the influence of extracurricular academic factors.

5. I would appreciate it if your IPFW email account were active—this is how I’d prefer to communicate with you, send handouts, and return graded papers and exams to you.

L309 / B622 Elizabethan Poetry


Friday, June 24, 2016


Second exam: Hamlet and Macbeth (Friday 24 June)

Study the Analytical Writing section on my teaching webpage:

http://users.ipfw.edu/stapletm/teach/writenow.html#aw

Write a detailed paragraph explaining exactly what it recommends.

Curiously, critics often discuss Hamlet and Macbeth together, though their protagonists could probably not be more divergent from one another, dissimilar in temperament, morality, character = fate, and in how their peers eulogize them.  Discuss your theory of their significant differences.  Plus also!

Use the four passages below as part of your analysis.

Show me how you are applying the Analytical Writing handout advice to your answer.

BE SPECIFIC.

A)

O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
Is it not monstrous that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit
That from her working all the visage wanned,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing!
For Hecuba!
What's Hecuba to him, or he to her
That he should weep for her? What would he do
Had he the motive and that for passion
That I have? 

B)

HORATIO
If your mind dislike anything, obey it: I will
forestall their repair hither and say you are not
fit.
HAMLET
Not a whit. We defy augury: there is special
providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be,
'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be
now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the
readiness is all. Since no man, of aught he
leaves, knows, what is't to leave betimes? Let be.
C) 

If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
It were done quickly: if the assassination
Could trammel up the consequence and catch
With his surcease success--that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all! here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We'd jump the life to come. But in these cases
We still have judgment here; that we but teach
Bloody instructions which, being taught, return
To plague th'inventor. This even-handed justice
Commends th'ingredients of our poisoned chalice
To our own lips.

D)

 I have almost forgot the taste of fears.
The time has been my senses would have cooled
To hear a night-shriek; and my fell of hair
Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir
As life were in't.  I have supp'd full with horrors.
Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts
Cannot once start me.


     For me, the most important thing to focus on from the section on Analytical Writing from your teaching website was the word “germane.” In other words, the section was dedicated to  not only to encouraging students to keep their writing close to their selected premise, but also showing them how to go about selecting a premise that is relevant to the subject matter. The more technical objective of maintaining focus was primarily illustrated by the three guidelines for using quotations in the second paragraph of the section. The three rules illustrated the balancing act of only using the necessary portions of the text—the ones which pertain to your premise—while also being able to give your writing a bit of character and insight from the text that can only be offered by well-selected quotations. The more abstract objective of finding a topic, or premise, to research emphasized using your own curiosity of aspects of the text in order to find questions that you would want to try to answer. Numerous examples gave the reader an idea of what kinds of questions a text can raise.
     When comparing Macbeth and Hamlet, the most striking difference is in the amount of resolve to accomplish their respective goals. While Macbeth is largely a “man-of-action” who sets his mind to an undertaking (no matter how dreadful) and gets it done, Hamlet spends most of the time dragging his feet and procrastinating his stated objective of avenging his murdered father.
Hamlet’s inactivity is ironically paralleled by the speech about the murder of Priam by Pyrrhus that a player recites in scene 2 of Act II. Being in the act of revenging his father, Achilles, Pyrrhus is described as wearing black armor “ horridly tricked” in the blood of his enemies (2.2.275-85). This image is analogous to Hamlet’s “inky cloak” and “customary suits of solemn black” in scene 2 of Act 1 (1.2.77-8). Though, of course, Hamlet never attains anything as close to an image as aggressive or heroic image such as Pyrrhus (or Macbeth, for that matter) until the last scene of the play. And, when the prince kills Polonius in Act 3, it seems arbitrary and very unceremonious, being blocked from the politicians blood by the arras.
     Additionally, Hamlet’s response to the culmination of the player’s speech is indicative of his lack of desire for revenge. Paradoxically, as Hamlet compares the emotional display of the player’s performance (“Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect, / A broken voice, and his whole function suiting”) he is illustrating how impassive his own behavior has been since his father’s death. In fact, when Hamlet has been his most impassioned is when he has been faking madness after speaking with the ghost of King Hamlet.
    Furthermore, Hamlet’s reluctance to act of his revenge plan may have to do with the fact that along with the responsibility of avenging his late father, Hamlet also puts on his own shoulders the task of correcting what is “rotten in the state of Denmark.” For instance, after being visited by his father’s ghost in scene 5 of Act II, Hamlet exclaims, “The time is out of joint: oh, curs├Ęd spite / That ever I was born to set it right” (1.4. 189-90). Dissimilarly, after Macbeth is visited by supernatural beings in the first Act, the main problem weighing on his mind is his own “horrible imaginings,” without any obvious evidence of having any regard for the ethical implications of possibly assassinating King Duncan or for the condition of the overall state of Scotland (1.3.142). Apparently, Hamlet’s journey is less selfish than Macbeth’s, chiefly because Hamlet actually cares about whether or not his current king, Claudius, deserves to die.
    Macbeth’s self-seeking and practical viewpoint can be deduced from his soliloquy at the beginning of scene 7 of Act 1. Seemingly already resigned to the murder of King Duncan, Macbeth is primarily concerned with the practical complications of committing the murder: If th’assassination / Could trammel up the consequence and catch / With his surcease success—that but this blow / Might be the be-all and the end-all!” Additionally, when Macbeth does show concern for the state of Scotland, his considerations also involves a preoccupation with his own self-preservation. For example, he states that he is worried about his assassination of the king could encourage others to eventually assassinate him: But in these cases / We still have judgment here, that we but teach / Bloody instructions which, being taught, return / To plague th’inventor” (1.7.7-10).
            Macbeth’s practicality is also markedly impious, in that, in this same soliloquy, he implies that getting away with the perfect murder is worth risking spiritual damnation: “but this blow / Might be the be-all and the end-all!—here, / But here, upon this bank and shoal of time, / We’d jump the life to come” (1.7.4-7). Macbeth’s fearless attitude at the end of the play also suggests a lack of regard for God. For instance, after hearing a women scream in the castle, he remarks, “I have supp'd full with horrors. / Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts / Cannot once start me” (5.5.13-5). What Macbeth is saying is that he has already experienced so much he has nothing left to fear. The obvious implication being that he does not now, or ever, fears hell. This is quite different from Hamlet’s concern over “what dreams may come.”
Interestingly, Hamlet shows a similar attitude of complacency towards the travails of life in the end scene of “Hamlet.” However, the prince seems to maintain his faith in a higher power that has some kind of control over the lives of man. For example, Hamlet states, “There is special provi- / dence in the fall of a sparrow” (5.2.191-2). The phrase “special providence” has obvious religious connotations.




Analytical writing depends on some fundamental skills, essential to producing clear and concise paragraphs, centered on important topic sentences. The writer should select quotes that support their thesis, and construct each paragraph around a topic sentence that explores the significance of the selected quote. Refrain from engaging in unnecessary summary, only summarizing the passages relevant to the thesis. It is also important to keep quotations limited to only what is both relevant to the thesis and what the author is prepared to analyze. When selecting quotes, pay close attention to ways they may be used to examine unique and original ways of interpreting the source material. Finally avoid paraphrasing a quote unless the meaning of the words is ambiguous, this will prevent the appearance of filling space.  Exercising these basic skills will improve the quality of ones analytical writing, and help produce more concise paragraphs.
Hamlet’s speech after Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern depart explores the false nature of the emotions expressed by players, and the reflection this has on his character. The passage that follows expresses the unnatural quality of the player’s expression, “Is it not monstrous that this player here, / But in a fiction, in a dream of passion, / Could force his soul so to his own conceit”. (Hamlet A 2-4) Linking the terms monstrous and the phrase “his soul so to his own conceit” illustrates the insincere nature of the players craft. While looking at fiction and “dream of passion” we see the illusion that an actor creates to give life to the lies he depicts as emotion. Delving deeper into his examination of the players skill Hamlet asks what the actor could do in this passage, “What would he do / Had he the motive and the cue for passion / That I have?” (Hamlet A 11-13) This passage speaks of Hamlet’s deep desires, and his uncertainty of how the player might respond in such a situation, how his skills would be brought to bear against the injustice that Hamlet faces. Finally through this uncertainty and reflection on the player Hamlet finds his views of himself in this passage, “Oh, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!”. (Hamlet A 1) This shows Hamlet’s conflicted nature, and his self-loathing at what he must do to achieve what he must do, through calling himself a rogue, and a peasant slave he displays how lowly he views himself.
            When Horatio and Hamlet speak together, before joining the King, Queen, and Laertes Hamlet has exchanged his indecision, for decisiveness, though he still reflects upon the actions around him for his guidance. This decisiveness appears in the following passage, “Not a whit. We defy augury. There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.”. (Hamlet B 3-4) Hamlet displays his boldness, “defy augury” reflects his rejection of the omens and predictions that held him frozen before, while the conclusion of the passage speaks of the divine control of even the smallest of events in life. Hamlet speaks further of his changed perspective in this passage, “If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all.”. (Hamlet B 5-6) This passage further confirms the definitive status of Hamlets change of mindset, he embraces that what will happen will happen in its appointed time, and all a man can do is be ready.
            Macbeth is a man who is of noble bearing, though through the ethical dilemma he faces in his struggle to claim the throne of Scotland he finds himself a deeply conflicted and tormented man. As Macbeth considers his choice his distress is revealed in the following passage, “If the assassination / Could trammel up the consequence, / … / But here, upon this bank and shoal of time, / We’d jump the life to come.”. (Macbeth C 2-7)
The word Consequence reflects the danger Macbeth feels at the prospect of achieving his goals, and trammel up, and catch depicts the idea of containing all the penalties the future will hold for his crimes in one act. This is made even more apparent by the conclusion “bank and shoal of time” gives an image of passing toward death, while “jump the life to come” clearly indicates Macbeth would sell his soul to release himself from the guilt of his crime. Even beyond the guilt he considers he would feel at fulfilling his desire, Macbeth cannot bring himself to fully commit to the idea of the act. This is expressed in the following passage, “this even-handed justice / Commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice / To our own lips”. (Macbeth C 10-12) The “even-handed justice” speaks to the idea that justice would return his own foul poison back upon himself as he would serve it to others.
            Macbeth in the final act of the play has made a great shift in his character. His cold and brutal nature is revealed in the following passage, “I have almost forgot the taste of fears. / The time has been my senses would have cooled / To hear a night-shriek”. (Macbeth D 1-3) Looking at the “taste of fear”, and “my senses would have cooled” we see Macbeth has abandoned his compassion, and kindness. What once affected him no longer holds sway on his emotions. The final confirmation of his change into the monster Lady Macbeth wished him to be comes in this passage, “I have supped full with horrors. / Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts / Cannot once start me”. (Macbeth D 5-7) To have supped full on horrors brings about the dark and murderous nature in Macbeth as he has experienced enough real horror that they are familiar to his thoughts, and now no horrors can cause him fear.
            Looking at the characters of Hamlet and Macbeth we see characters who both experienced great conflict and change, this is expressed clearly through the four selected passages. With the character of Hamlet he transitioned from a character of great indecision to a character of decisive action through reflection on those around him. He also came to know that to question ones actions indefinitely is to be incapable of action at all, thus one must eventually prepare oneself and act. Macbeth similarly was a character of great change who experienced deep conflict of ethics. Yet in the case of Macbeth his struggle was from the perspective of a moral man descending into the depths of damnation, and coming out a monster. He began questioning if he could achieve his goals through evil acts, and each act required an even greater act, until in the end there was no act he would not carry out no matter how vile.




Papers need to make an argument. Papers that don’t present a coherent point, backed up with proof via quotations and textual references, are not beneficial to the argument’s purpose. One reason that a paper might not argue well is that the text is not appropriately analyzed. If the text is simply paraphrased and left in the paper without explanation, then there is nothing to be gained by using the text at all. If quotations are used, but ramble on without a point, then they are useless as well. Quotations should be short and concise so that they can be more fully analyzed. Longer quotations not only take up more space, but the proper analyzing of them is very likely to take the paper off-topic from its main argument. 
            Perhaps the reason that Hamlet and Macbeth are so often discussed together is because, despite their common theme as a tragedy, the main characters are so glaringly different. However, it is in these differences that we see the similarities between Hamlet and Macbeth, and in these similarities we see how Hamlet and Macbeth are each other’s inverse. Hamlet’s motives are much purer than Macbeth’s, even though Macbeth begins his play with semblance of morality about him. Hamlet also has more control of himself than Macbeth, although the other characters in the play may not know it. Hamlet also keeps confidence in friends who would wish to see him succeed through doing what is right; whereas Macbeth’s closest confidant has sold her soul to the devil.
            Hamlet and Macbeth do have one exceptional similarity: that is, their desire to exact vengeance on those around them. Still, the motives for this similarity are very different. Hamlet’s vengeance is brought about by a desire to avenge his father’s unnatural death. Although he does have reasons of his own, such as believing that his mother’s marriage to his uncle is incestuous, Hamlet hates his uncle the most for killing his father. For Macbeth, on the other hand, the word “vengeance” is better defined to mean, “inflict injury and harm” than “exact revenge.” King Duncan never wronged Macbeth, yet he kills the king in his sleep. Banquo has never been anything less than a friend, yet Macbeth kills him as well. The only moment in Macbeth’s reign where his cruelty could be thought of as revenge is when he kills Macduff’s family in response to Macduff deserting him to join Malcolm’s army. But even in this, he is far crueler than he needs to be, as Macduff’s wife and children have never wronged Macbeth.
            By the time Macbeth murders Macduff’s family, he has lost all touch with reality and morality. Macbeth’s lawless killing has taken over his mind. It seems, though, that he is somewhat aware of how far he has gone. It is shortly after he kills Macduff’s family that he says,
I have almost forgot the taste of fears…
Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts
Cannot once start me.
            (5.5.9,14-15)
            Macbeth remembers that he was once afraid of the evil things of night. He recalls what it was like to get scared from something as simple as a story. Yet, he says that he has done and thought so much evil that nothing can scare him any more. This statement can’t be believed, as he kills Banquo and Macduff’s family out of fear. Macbeth is lying to us, and even more than that he is lying to himself. This makes it all the more obvious that he is truly out of his mind.
            Hamlet, on the other hand, only seems to be out of his mind. The audience and Horatio are the only ones privy to the knowledge that he is putting on an act of insanity. Knowing this, we are able to see where, although the other characters believe him to be talking about the players who come to visit the castle, he is speaking of himself and the “show” he is putting on.
                        Is it not monstrous that this player here…
                        Could force his soul so to his own conceit
                        That from her working all the visage wanned,
                        Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,
                        A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
                        With forms to his conceit?
                                    (2.2.470,472-6)
Hamlet is alone as he speaks this. There is no one around for him to act for, so we assume that he is speaking the truth. And although some may say that he is talking of the player, who had just presented a monologue for him and his friends, it is quite possible that he is actually speaking of himself. As the player was speaking earlier, his words upset Hamlet so that Polonius had to ask him to stop. “Look where he has not turned his color and has / tears in ‘s eyes! –Prithee, no more” (2.2.441-442). Hamlet regrets in his soliloquy that his face gave anything away as a reaction to the player’s words. His strictness with himself shows both Hamlet’s expertise in the art of acting as well as his sanity. A man who is truly insane would not berate himself for showing his true emotions.
Still, it is not just the audience who is allowed to see Hamlet’s true self. His friend Horatio, who first showed him his father’s ghost, is his one confidant in the matter. Even more than that, Horatio offers to help Hamlet when he thinks Hamlet needs him. In the moments before King Claudius and Laertes arrive for the deadly duel at the end of the play, Horatio turns to Hamlet and says,
            If your mind dislike anything, obey it: I will fore-
stall their repair hither and say you are not fit.
                        (5.2.189-90)
Hamlet’s response is to tell him that whatever happens is providence, whether he, Laertes, or King Claudius may die.
In this mindset, and in his companion, is where Macbeth differs the greatest from Hamlet. Macbeth, persuaded by his wife, believes that fate is something that can be changed and influenced by mortal man. His rise to Thane of Cawdor was prophesied and then occurred without his help. Yet when he looks at the prophecy of his rise to kingship he doesn’t see any way for it to happen without any action on his part. Lady Macbeth believes the same, and with her guidance he commits the crime that ensures the second prophecy’s attainment. Without first hearing the prophecy, and without the goading of Lady Macbeth, it is quite possible that Macbeth would have foregone the king’s murder. But then it is quite possible that he never would have become king. The prophecy stands on itself that it never would have occurred without it first being spoken. It is the prophecy that brings Macbeth to desire the kingship and his wife who brings him to gain it.
Some might say that if Macbeth had a better companion he would have reacted more like Hamlet. However this is not true as it was much more than Lady Macbeth that brought Macbeth to ruin. His motives for vengeance are selfish whereas Hamlet’s are based on revenge for another. He believes that he must act to bring the prophecies about, while Hamlet is willing to let providence work on her own. And while Macbeth allowed his companion to influence him negatively, he could have told her no. Hamlet is willing to disagree with Horatio, and Horatio only wants what is best for him. Perhaps the reason that Hamlet and Macbeth are so often spoken of together is because their namesakes are so absolutely different from one another, yet the courses of their lives touch so many similar things.




The analytical writing page focuses on putting more information per quotation. It is important one chooses a topic one can go into detail about without using a theme that is too general and will require too much length. While including one’s own sense of oddity, be aware that the audience is well learned and does not require information on already well known facts. Sentence variation is important. Avoid summaries and paraphrases and instead fill paragraphs by addressing questions. Give readers a new point of view on the text. In addition to the context of the lines, also look at the specific words used. Present ideas in a way that logically follows the point you are trying to make. Each paragraph should focus on only one specific topic.
            The differences between Macbeth and Hamlet are numerous, yet their fates remain the same, they both die because all tragedies end in death regardless of the personality of the main character. Macbeth is immoral because even though he understands the deeds he does are bad; he still does them. Hamlet on the other hand can be considered moral because he spends the entirety of the play putting off killing his uncle because he questions the necessity. He continues to wonder if taking a life for revenge is worth whatever consequence he will have to live (or die) with after the deed is done. Although it is considered Hamlet’s fatal flaw that he cannot make up his mind it would seem that this very “flaw” is what keeps him moral.
            Hamlet is melancholy for the majority of the play, he speaks of death and suicide concerning all those around him. He doesn’t seem to pay too much attention to anyone but Polonius and his uncle who he finds to be scheming together. While many worry that he is going crazy because of the way he treats them it seems like he still cares for the majority. He yells at Ophelia and accuses her of being a lying woman, then to watch the play he asks, “Shall I lie in your lap” (3.2.102)? It is assumed that Hamlet is just pretending to be crazy and if this is the case then it is clear that he is loyal to the people he loved before he went mad. Macbeth, on the other hand, loses all loyalty and trust once the murders start. Although he is the one completing or ordering for the murders he seems to not trust any of his friends. The second Banquo seems to have a sense that Macbeth is involved, he hires someone to kill him even though Banquo was his closest friend before the rise in nobility.
            The fate of these two men is what unites them. Towards the end of the play they both lose their lovers to suicide. Lady Macbeth kills herself when she is finally unable to stand the guilt of all the murders she has been involved with. Ophelia drowns after her father’s death when she begins to go crazy and sing of her father dying and her losing her virginity. Ophelia isn’t Hamlet’s only love interest that dies by her own hand. Gertrude, who Hamlet seems to have an inexplicable bond with, drinks poison out of a cup that was meant for Hamlet. While it isn’t clear whether or not her drinking the poison was an accident given the clear similarities between the two plays it would follow that perhaps Gertrude couldn’t take the pressure of knowing her late husband was murdered by her current husband.
            As for the death of the protagonists themselves, regardless of their attempts to work around the prophecies put on them, both managed to fulfill their specific revelation. Macbeth felt invincible because of the prophecy, “For none of woman borne shall harm Macbeth” (4.1.82). Upon discovering that Macduff was removed from his mother and not born Macbeth realized the truth in the prophecy and was killed because of it. Hamlet, though indecisive about listening to the command the ghost of his father gave him in regards to killing Claudius, ends up killing his uncle after his mother dies. In the end both characters, though different in all aspects of character, died the same way, trying to avoid their fate.
            In Act II Scene 2 of Hamlet, the protagonist is conversing with the actors about a play they will perform. In his soliloquy, Hamlet says, “Had he the motive and that for passion that I have?” (2.2.520) in critique of the player’s emotional portrayal.  Although the play Hamlet has chosen is meant to infuriate his uncle into confessing the murder it seems that he might have intended a different purpose for the performance. In the line, Shakespeare chose the word “passion” to demonstrate Hamlet’s feelings for the motive. Passion in one sense can be an extreme hatred yet in another can relate to romance. If the motive is to show his uncles crimes, then passion in this sense means hate, yet perhaps the motive isn’t about his uncle at all. It could be that passion is meant, in this case, to be romantic love. That would make the motive not getting revenge on his uncle, but winning over his mother’s affection. Hamlet’s somewhat incestuous relationship with his mother is no secret so is his wanting to kill his uncle revenge for his father or a clear path to winning over his mother? The length of time between his father asking him to kill Claudius and his actually killing the king seems to show that something in the meantime was a stronger source of his wanting to murder the “adulterous beast”. There was plenty of things that happened between the first visitation of the ghost to Hamlet and the murder of Claudius, importantly though Hamlet saw the ghost a second time in Gertrude’s chamber. The ghost reminds him that he has strayed from his mission, does the ghost of Hamlet Sr. know Prince Hamlet’s intentions with his mother? Perhaps this is the very reason the ghost appeared, to remind Hamlet why he is supposed to kill the King, not so that he can have his mother, but so Hamlet Sr. can leave purgatory.
            Hamlet spends the entire play giving speeches about why he wants to die, but he often shows a great amount of compassion for people that haven’t done an extreme amount to deserve it. In the graveyard he is angry at the grave digger for singing on the job and throwing skulls without even thinking that they used to be a person. He demands to know why the woman about to be buried doesn’t get proper rites. He doesn’t kill his uncle while he’s praying because he believes then his uncle will go straight to Heaven. Yet in response to Horatio, he says, “Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows, what is’t to leave betimes” (5.2.209). Hamlet seems to know what people leave behind when they die every time he questions rituals and prayers, so why is it in regards to himself that he thinks nobody can know what legacy they will leave. The ongoing question is then, does Hamlet really want to die? His father was poisoned in his sleep without the chance to ask forgiveness for his having killed Fortinbras, in result he is stuck in purgatory. His father couldn’t have known what would happen after he died because he was murdered but Hamlet seems so ready to die throughout the whole play perhaps he does know what will happen after his passing. “We defy augury” (5.2.205), he tells Horatio. In Hamlet’s theory God controls everything and that’s why he enters the dual because he knows that if he is meant to die he will and since up to this point although he has spoken like a suicidal man because he is still alive he knows that God didn’t want him dead yet. Hamlet may try to avoid fate by putting off decisions that will result in him murdering someone but he knows that’s because fate is telling him to do so.
            Macbeth, being an already rather immoral person, increases his unscrupulousness by wondering, “if the assassination could trammel up the consequences” (1.7.2).  He means to say that he knows it’s bad that he wants to kill Duncan but he seems to think that it would be less evil of him to do it if there were little to no consequences. It’s not that Macbeth’s wish goes un-granted, because he gets what he wants and there are only a few drawbacks. He ends up so ridden with guilt and mistrust inwardly that he ends up wanting to kill anybody that could possibly have assumed it was him that killed Duncan. He thinks that with all the people who thought he had anything to do with the murders dead he would be free from consequence yet as the culpability takes over his thoughts he sees apparitions and fears for the safety of his position as king. Once people start to notice that Macbeth is seeing things and sneaking around, Macduff, who most likely aware from the start, steps in and battles Macbeth. Macbeth is killed by his own remorse although the guilt wasn’t Macduff’s sword the inward consequences he faced caused the notion in Macduff that eventually killed him.
            Is it fair to say that in the end Macbeth understands the sins he has committed? Not entirely. He now knows that he has butchered many people but he, not having the ability to feel fear or terror, cannot place himself in the minds of those that see him as a foul creature. “Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts” (5.5.14), Macbeth now knows that while sin was consuming him fear wasn’t. When at first he killed Duncan, he refused to re-enter the room and see what he had done. Yet the morning after he kills the guards so they can’t confess and enters Duncan’s room unfazed by what he has done. At some point it seems that Macbeth is so caught up in lies that he starts to believe them himself. In Macbeth’s mind, did he really kill Duncan? In this passage it seems that he has just begun to feel the weight of what he has done. The barrier that he began to create to shield himself from what he has done is so strong he no longer feels fear or terror because, at this point, everyone is fearing him and what he might do to them. Hannah Arendt’s philosophy of the “banality of evil” seems to have affected Macbeth greatly. After being covered in the blood of all those that died at his hands he does not transform into a horrid looking monster in fact he drains of color and life with each one he takes. Macbeth is not the Wendigo he is simply a confused man that has lost all sense of morality and can no longer understand what causes all the guilt he is feeling. His mind is overrun with “slaughterous thoughts” as he calls them, he is still Macbeth he has just tasted blood now.
            Hamlet and Macbeth are completely different until their death where they converge both meeting their fates in similar ways. After they die they diverge again in how people remember them. Macbeth is called a butcher by Malcom and his wife is thought of as a “fiend-like queen” (5.8.71). Malcolm doesn’t think of them as mundane people that could no longer see the difference between right and wrong he sees them as always having been terrible people. Hamlet, in contrast, departs with his good friend by his side. Horatio thinks of him as noble and a “sweet prince” (5.2.358). Macbeth is most likely going to hell for his deeds whereas, Hamlet, in the mind of Horatio at least, is going to heaven with angels leading him to heaven. The differences far exceed the similarities between the two but most dissimilar of all they are going to completely different afterlives.

Thursday, June 16, 2016



Thank you for a wonderful semester. I am very proud of you, and impressed with your good work.

A-D  Did you find anything remarkable about Lady Macbeth's speech, "Glamis thou art" (1.5.13-28)?


When Lady Macbeth is introduced in the play she is not shown as the doting wife that worries about her husband while he is off fighting in a bloody battle. Instead, she starts off scene five of act one by reading a letter from her husband about his conversation with the three witches. I find Lady Macbeth’s lack of love to be remarkable, as seen in her first lines of the play.
            I really cannot see any love of her husband from Lady Macbeth. It is true that she wants his advancement, for after reading his letter she begins to scheme how she will convince him to take the throne; however, I would think that a loving wife would want her husband to be a good person and not complain that he is “too full o’th’ milk of human kindness/To catch the nearest way” (1.5.15-16). While I do believe that to love a person Lady Macbeth should want what is best for him, I do not think that murder falls under the “what is best” category. Instead of being thankful that she has a kind husband who is nice to others and is kind to her, Lady Macbeth whines that he is not evil, which “impedes thee from the golden round” (1.5.26).
            Secondly, Lady Macbeth doesn’t seem to be honored that she has also risen in status along with her husband. Lady Macbeth has no plans on congratulating Macbeth on being promoted to Thane of Cawdor or showing any gratitude for his loyal acts that he lovingly grants to her or to King Duncan. She does admit that it doesn’t escape her notice that he has accomplished this new honor from the king, but she immediately jumps on the witches’ prediction of Macbeth inheriting the throne. She is so totally focused on what is to come that she does not realize that she is now not only the lady of Glamis, but also of Cawdor. One way of showing someone love is to give them gratitude. Lady Macbeth certainly doesn’t know this fact.
            I believe that Lady Macbeth is a character who does not know how to love. Perhaps in her own twisted way she believes that she loves her husband because she greedily wants him to rise to the highest possible position, yet I do not believe that this shows a dotting, loving wife. Instead of whining about how kind Macbeth is to everyone, she should be grateful that he is not an abusive overlord towards herself. Instead of rebuking him with the “valor of…[her] tongue” (1.5.25), perhaps she should be thanking him for being a good person and soldier, thus making her lady of Cawdor in addition to Glamis and getting home safe and sound from the battle. Lady Macbeth is not a wife to be admired.



There were a number of things that stood out to me from this speech. This is essentially our introduction to Lady Macbeth. This is my first time every reading Macbeth, and I took a note in class on Tuesday when you mentioned that Lady Macbeth is sometimes thought of as the fourth witch of the play. Though I am not currently past Act 4, I am starting to understand why some may think of her that way.
It is unclear whether or not she believes in what the witches are saying, and to be honest, I really don’t think that it matters. They told her that she is to become royalty, and that is what she wants to hear, so she believes it. I’d venture to guess she would turn to witchcraft solely for the purpose of having her husband become king.
“Yet I do fear thy nature;/it is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness” (1.5. 14-15): Lady Macbeth is saying that she knows that he is a good man with a moral compass, but that he may be too nice to carry out what she believes he has to do.  If given the option, I am certain that Lady Macbeth would carry out the execution herself. She is the aggressor in their relationship. I can’t tell yet if she thinks he is a coward or just indecisive and maybe a little bit lazy. And as she continues in this speech, it’s clear that she does not have 100% faith that he will be able to complete this mission. She is determined to talk him into carrying through, not because it’s necessarily what is right, but because it’s the only way that they can share the throne together. Though I am not certain, it appears as though this is how their relationship goes. Almost as though she has the thicker skin of the two, and the ability to not sit on a decision, but to act on it. And quickly, before either has a chance to change their mind.




Lady Macbeth is first introduced in Act 1 Scene V. At her first introduction it is hard to think of her as ladylike. She reads a letter from Macbeth, it isn’t what one would imagine a letter to a wife from a man at war would be, it is strictly business. Lady Macbeth seems to find her husband somewhat weak, she doesn’t believe he knows how to get what he wants.
            It was said in class that some people think of Lady Macbeth as a fourth witch and it has some stable evidence. While Macbeth is still trying to piece together why the witches told him he would be the Thane of Cawdor and eventually the King, Lady Macbeth seems to find the answer extremely simple. She doesn’t think her husband is immoral enough to kill his way to the crown.
            Lady Macbeth seems to know she can control Macbeth and in a way that seems supernatural. When she is talking to herself she tells Macbeth that she is going to, “pour my spirits in thine ear” (1.5.23), This is taken to mean a transfer of energy. While this could have been natural in the time, for modern audiences this might seem like witchcraft or supernatural.
            What truly stands out among the many things Lady Macbeth says is, “Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem to have thee crowned withal” (1.5.26). Just like the beginning of the play where many paradoxes were used, this line seems also to contain a paradox. Fate, in such a case as predestination, is an unstoppable phenomenon. This leads to the question, If Macbeth’s taking of the crown is fate, why does it need metaphysical aid? Lady Macbeth seems to think her husband incapable of completing immoral deeds, if his fate is to take the crown then doesn’t his fate already leave the ability to kill for one’s personal growth among Macbeth’s characteristics? Lady Macbeth seems to think that supernatural aid will be required for her husband to kill his predecessors although according to fate Macbeth already has it in him, in thinking this one might find that her desire to involve the supernatural makes her suspiciously like a witch. 

E-G  Lady Macbeth's soliloquy (1.5.36-52): what do you make of it?


Lady Macbeths soliloquy towards the beginning of Act one Scene five represents her want for power of the throne.  In this soliloquy, Lady Macbeth is talking with the sky, discussing the fatal entrance of Duncan, meaning the plan and execution of his death.  In my opinion, Lady Macbeth makes this speech in order to let others know she is not afraid to take matters into her own hands and kill Duncan if her husband, Macbeth, decides to withdraw from the execution of King Duncan himself. 
            Lady Macbeth states many times that she is willing to put her woman attributes aside in order to make sure King Duncan is killed so her and her husband can take the throne. 
            “That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here (1.5.39).
Lady Macbeth states to unsex her, meaning take away her feminine traits that are suppose to be loving, caring, and nurturing and instead replace them with heartless masculine traits so she is able to complete this task.  She is asking those above to change her internal being as a woman. 
            “Come to my womans breasts
            And take my milk for gall, you murdring ministers (1.5.45-46).
Here we see Lady Macbeth striping herself of all feminine qualities and preparing herself for the murder of King Duncan if her husband cannot follow through with the act.  As a reader, this makes me believe Macbeth would not have wanted to kill King Duncan on his own, and instead, this is his wife’s idea and decision.  This shows power and money is the root of all evil and some will do anything to receive it.


The way that Shakespeare depicts Macbeth at the beginning of this scene has a few layers to it. Firstly, starting the soliloquy with “If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well/ it were done quickly.” (1.7, 1-2), shows that Macbeth is in a very pragmatic state of mind when thinking about the actions that he should take. He shows that if it were only as simple as killing the king and then moving on with his life then he would easily be able to do it, and therefore the sooner the better because there is no reason to wait. This also shows that he takes the time to think out his actions instead of just doing them immediately by the fact that he takes the time to say this and contemplate what needs to be done instead of just rushing in to do it. Related to the idea of him taking time to think through his actions is the fact that he is worried about the consequences, shown by “But in these cases/ we still have judgement here, that we but teach/ Bloody instructions which, being taught, return/ to plague  th’inventor.” (1.7, 7-10). This is more significant than the idea that Macbeth is worried about ramifications though, the fact that he seems to only be worried about the fact that him killing the king might make other people think it is a good idea to kill him also shows that he does not particularly have a strong value for human life. If he did, he would be more worried about the fact that he is harming another person rather than his sole concern being that trouble might come his way. Macbeth is pragmatic in his decisions to kill, as well as how to go about them, and the only reason that he thinks them through in this way is that he is worried about himself. This shows that his sense of morality is selfish at best and more realistically bordering on evil where it would not take much for him to do anything he would think is necessary in order to get what he wants. These factors also make Macbeth seem intelligent, and intellect on top of an evil morality make Macbeth seem like a formidable character.


In her soliloquy (1.5.36-52), Lady Macbeth begins by exclaiming how fortunate for her and unfortunate for the king it is that he is coming to Macbeth’s home. For her, it seems to be the perfect opportunity to bring about the prophecy of the three witches, that Macbeth will be king. The witches prophesy in 1.3.49-51:
                        All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!
                        All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!
                        All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!
            This prophecy occurs just after Macbeth has killed the previous Thane of Cawdor, although he has not yet been named his successor. Therefore, by the time he is named Thane of Cawdor by the king’s men, he realizes that he quite possibly could be the next king as well. He writes to Lady Macbeth relating these events, and it is this letter that she has just finished reading when a messenger comes to her, telling her of the king’s coming. Her soliloquy follows this news immediately.
            While she is overjoyed that the opportunity to make Macbeth king has come so soon, Lady Macbeth is also somewhat fearful of what it might entail. In her soliloquy she asks for strength to commit the deed and not feel guilt.
                                                            Make thick my blood,
                        Stop up th’access and passage to remorse,
                        That no compunctious visitings of nature
                        Shake my fell purpose nor keep peace between
                        Th’effect and it.
                                                                        (1.5.41-45)
            She also requests that no thing keeps the deed from being accomplished. The fact that these are requests that she has and not just thoughts makes me wonder whether Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy is a soliloquy at all. She seems to be talking to somebody, asking for help and guidance in committing the murder of King Duncan. It’s possible that, while there is no one else present on stage, Lady Macbeth is actually talking to the three witches that Macbeth told her about in his letter. Whether she’s ever come into contact with the witches, we don’t know. What we do know, though, is that Lady Macbeth is willing to do anything and everything to make her husband king. This soliloquy, or monologue or prayer, is proof enough of that.

H-O Macbeth's soliloquy to begin 1.7: how does  Shakespeare depict his consciousness and sense of morality?


Macbeth shows that he does understand morality and how he is aware that his plan to murder Duncan is wrong in his soliloquy at the beginning of act 1 scene 7. He begins his speech by saying “If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well / It were done quickly” (1.7.1-2), showing the audience that he knows he must act quickly in order to be successful with his mission. From here he goes from sounding sure of himself with this decision to questioning it. He goes on to say in lines 7 through 10:
                                                But in these cases
                                    We still have judgment here, that we but teach
                                    Bloody instructions which, being taught, return
                                    To plague th'inventor.
This is Shakespeare's way of sharing how conscious Macbeth is on the consequences of his actions. Shakespeare uses graphic words such as “bloody” and “plague” to emphasize Macbeth's grasp of morality, or in this case, the lack of morality in his plans.
            Macbeth is also very aware of how much trust Duncan has placed at his feet. He acknowledges that as his subject he should be “against the deed” (1.7.14) and as his host he “should against his murderer shut the door” (1.7.15). Not only is he aware of the wrongness of murdering Duncan and  that doing so will come back on him eventually, but he admits Duncan has done nothing to deserve this death. Macbeth states in lines 16-20:
                                                Besides, this Duncan
                                    Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
                                    So clear in his great office, that his virtues
                                    Will plead like angels, trumpet-toungued, against
                                    The deep damnation of his taking-off;
By speaking about Duncan's meek nature in his office and of his virtues, Macbeth shows his admiration of the man he has decided to kill. It speaks to his awareness that his future actions are wrong. To further show his own corruption he compares his motivations by admitting that his only reason to killing Duncan is his “vaulting ambition” (1.7.27). 




Macbeth is a man of a relatively simple morality, he sees the world around him in moral convictions that spoke of his loyalty and his admiration for Duncan’s nobility. These concerns are clearly expressed in the opening lines of Macbeth’s soliloquy, “If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly. If th’assassination could trammel up the consequence”. (1.7.1-4) these lines expose Macbeth's apprehension at his task, in saying if it were done, ‘twere well it were done quickly he speaks of the fact that he might not have the resolve to act if he does not quickly as in the heat of battle, where killing comes easily to Macbeth. This shows a clear distinction in Macbeth's morality between killing in battle and murder.
            We also see his views of loyalty and honor explained in the passage where Macbeth explains why he should not kill Duncan. The passage details what Macbeth sees as virtues and how he believes an honorable man should act, from these observations we can infer his morality in these areas. The passage begins with Macbeth's declaration of how Duncan should feel safe with him, “He’s here in double trust: First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, Strong both against the deed; then as his host Who against his murderer shut the door, Not bear the knife myself.”. (1.7.12-16) This passage shows the great importance of loyalty and honor to Macbeth, even with his great ambition his loyalty and honor restrained him from taking action with a clear conscience. The concept of the obligations of the host go back a long way, and these responsibilities are deeply ingrained into Macbeth's morality, the idea of slaughtering an entire battlefield of enemies is preferable to harming a single guest in his eyes. We also see the bonds of family and loyalty to the crown, play heavily into his moral compass, which should not be surprising for a man whose world revolves around home and country. The choice to turn from his kings most stalwart champion to the Kings assassin, is one that drives Macbeth to become a monster.



Macbeth’s soliloquy in 1.7 is the point when his ambitions to be king start take over and his sense of morality is pushed aside.  We can see this happen quickly, when Macbeth begins with wishing the whole assassination of the king would just be over and done with minimal obstacles and effort. “If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well / It were done quickly” (1.7.1-2). His coldness towards the whole thing, treating the act as if it were an annoying chore, is when we start to really see the real Macbeth. Speaking of quickly, it does seem like Macbeth’s ambitions for the crown crop up out of nowhere. This could be attributed to the witches influence, but this might put into question how much influence they hold over Macbeth and his actions. It’s also worth pondering if Lady Macbeth’s need for power is connected to the witches as well. The quickness of it all could also just simply mean that it was always there. Macbeth had always wanted more, but had been unable to see the path to get to where he wanted to be. The witches, and Lady Macbeth, shined a light on it.
            The other part that largely outlines his lack of morality and his consciousness is his concern for the consequences. Macbeth is more worried about being punished, the “evenhanded justice” (1.7.10), for killing the king than committing a murder motivated by his desire for power. His indifference towards the whole ordeal becomes almost comical when he decides he should not murder Duncan tonight because it would be rude to kill the king while Macbeth is his host. True, it is not good to murder someone in your own house if you are planning to get away with it. Macbeth also knows that he should be protecting the king from harm, showing that he knows his role and consciously is acting against it. 


P-S  Why does the concept of manliness arise in the first conversation we see between Lady Macbeth and her spouse (1.7)?


The concept of manliness comes up in 1.7 between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth because they have different ideas of what being a man is. Macbeth is having second thoughts about killing Duncan because he doesn’t know what kind of consequences there will be, and Macbeth thinks Duncan is a good and uncorrupted king. Macbeth does not see backing down as an act of cowardliness but an act of manliness. He says, “I dare do all that may become a man; Who dares do more is none” (1.7.46-47), meaning that he has done what he needed to do to become a man and if he does more, meaning kill Duncan, he will no longer be a man. This is Macbeth’s concept of what is manly; the important part is it is not manly if one becomes too selfish.
            Lady Macbeth sees manliness different and questions her own husband’s manliness because he doesn’t want to murder Duncan. She points out to Macbeth that he was once more of a man when he thought of the idea and will be an even greater man once the murder is done. “When you durst do it, then you were a man; And to be more than what you were, you would Be so much more the man” (1.7.49-51).  Her idea of what makes a man is a driving ambition to get to the top and doing whatever needs to be done to get there. Lady Macbeth is shaming her husband because he doesn’t want commit the murder anymore and she finds that cowardly. She uses the comparison of killing her own baby if she had sworn to do it; meaning she would kill her own flesh and blood if she had said she would and Macbeth won’t even kill the king even though he said he would. Her point in all this is to show that she is manlier than her husband and to shame him into doing the murder. 

T-Z  Macbeth's soliloquy, "Is this a dagger that I see before me?" (2.1.33): does it matter if he really sees a dagger or not? What in the speech might give you some clues?


The concept of manliness comes up in 1.7 when Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are arguing over the plan to kill Duncan.  Macbeth made a decision to kill Duncan and then started having second thoughts about this murder.  Duncan says, “We will proceed no further in this business/He hath honored me of late” (1.7.31-32), essentially saying that he cannot go along with his plan any longer because the king just honored him and he’s now earned the good opinions from so many people and that he wants to enjoy this feeling while it lasts.  Lady Macbeth reacts by calling him first a coward for ‘wanting’ to do something, in this case, murdering Duncan, and doing the opposite of what he wants.  Macbeth says that his reluctance to kill Duncan makes him a man, and that killing him would make him less of a man.  So essentially Macbeth thinks that the murder of Duncan would make him a coward, and not murdering Duncan makes him a man. 
            Lady Macbeth feels the exact opposite of Macbeth.  Lady Macbeth tells him that when he said he was going to murder Duncan, that’s when he was the real man, and if he actually goes through with what he says he is going to do, then that makes him even more of a man.  I think Lady Macbeth has a problem with him acting ‘scared’ to kill Duncan, but I think it makes her even more mad that he promised to do something, and then went back on his promise.  She made the comment that she has known the love for a baby that she breast fed, but she would essentially kill the baby even as it was smiling at her if he had promised to do so.


In Macbeth’s soliloquy, Macbeth first says “Is this a dagger that I see before me?” (2.1.33) he does not see an actual dagger, he is imagining it, “I have thee not, and yet I see thee still” (2.1.35).  From this it shows us that Macbeth is confused and is having second thoughts on whether or not he should go through with it. A clue on what might show the reader that there is no dagger is when Macbeth says “I see thee yet, in form as palpable/As this which now I draw” (2.1.40-41) he can now feel the dagger in his hands and that it feels so real. At this point he is pulling out a real dagger. Another line that is important would be “And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood” (2.1.46) He is seeing blood on the handle and the blade, and then Macbeth starts to feel guilty for what he will do to Duncan. Then when Macbeth says “It is the bloody business which informs thus to mine eyes” (2.1.48-49) Macbeth is now thinking of the murder that is about to commit. From this we now see why Macbeth is seeing a dagger, and now the audience is seeing everything come together, from him talking about a dagger, seeing blood on the handle, and now hearing about the murder gives the audience a better understanding. They are now seeing the complications that Macbeth is having with going through with the murder. Towards the end of his soliloquy, Macbeth then says “Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives” (2.1.61) this line is important because Macbeth is saying that the longer he stays here and talks the faster his courage goes away. If he wants to kill Duncan then, he must do it soon or else he might back out. Then at the end of his soliloquy he says “I go and it is done. The bell invites me./Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell” (2.1.62-63) when he heard the bells Macbeth knows what he must do and that is to murder Duncan. He then says that he is going to do it no matter what happens. 



In Macbeth’s soliloquy, he begins by saying “Is this a dagger which I see before me,/The handle toward my hand?” (2.1.33-34). Macbeth sees an imaginary dagger. In the play, this scene is one that shows Macbeth’s hesitation and confusion. There isn’t really a dagger there, but this first line shows the audience a lot. Of all the things Macbeth could see in the hallway, why would it be a dagger? This has the significance of the fact that Macbeth is on his way to murder Duncan. In fact, around line 42 of this scene, he pulls out his own dagger. Why wouldn’t Shakespeare have had Macbeth see some other object, or even a person, that would make him doubt himself? The dagger soon appeared covered with blood: “And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood” (2.1.47). This helps answer the question of why he saw a dagger. With this object being portrayed, the audience obviously thinks of death. However, as soon as that blood appears, an eerie feeling of the guilt attacks Macbeth. Seeing the object that kills someone is one thing, but seeing that object after the deed is done is another.
            The next line of this question (“The handle toward my hand?”) is equally as important. The handle of the dagger Macbeth is seeing is pointing right at him—almost tempting him to grab ahold of it. If it were pointing any other direction, the dagger would have almost been hard for Macbeth to approach. Since the handle was towards him, the audience can imply that the dagger he saw was inviting him to take it and use it. When Macbeth sees it in this position, his next words are “Come, let me clutch thee” (2.1.34). Macbeth is longing to grab the dagger, and with this line, he is ordering the dagger to let him do so.
            Between the blood Macbeth sees and the handle he longs to hold, it is important in this scene that he actually can visualize the dagger—the audience should not see it, but it is important that he can. If he did not see the dagger in the play, the audience would not get a good view of who Macbeth truly is becoming and the internal struggles going on.

Thursday, June 9, 2016


Thursday 9 June

A-D In Hamlet 3.1, Hamlet and Ophelia have a strange conversation after he delivers the most celebrated soliloquy in history. What can be inferred from the exchange?


The conversation between Hamlet and Ophelia shows that Hamlet no longer has any faith in women, not even one that he presumably loved. His faith in women has been shattered with the thought of his mother being unfaithful to her marriage to his father with his uncle. Since this is before his mind throughout most of the play, it is no wonder that Hamlet does not trust Ophelia’s love to him.
            Hamlet not only does not want to be in a relationship with Ophelia anymore, but he also does not wish her well in finding a husband. He harshly tells her that, “If thou dost marry, I’ll give thee this plague for thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny” (3.1.132-134). Hamlet seems to be threatening Ophelia; if she dares to marry, he will give her a “plague” for a “dowry”. I find it a bit curious that Hamlet is proclaiming that he will give Ophelia a “dowry” if she marries another man. After all, he is not her father, nor has any relation to her that is stated in the play; therefore, it is a bit strange to offer a dowry. Within the Oxford English Dictionary, however, it states that “dowry” can mean a “dower” (1). “Dower” is defined as “The portion of a deceased husband’s estate which the law allows to his widow for her life” in the Oxford English Dictionary (1). This adds more confusion: does Hamlet consider himself a husband to Ophelia already, even though they have not married? Hamlet could, I suppose, not understand marriage. In that case, perhaps he thinks that he can bestow a dowry on Ophelia even though they are not relations, or does he consider them to be already married because of their love toward each other?  Perhaps Shakespeare is showing, once again, how weird and unnatural the world of Hamlet is in relation to reality.
            In any case, Hamlet has threatened to grant Ophelia “plague” of “calumny” as her “dowry”. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “plague” is not only the horrible disease that spread throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, but also “A blow (1a). “Calumny” is defined as “False and malicious misrepresentation of the words or actions of others, calculated to injure their reputation…slander” in the Oxford English Dictionary (1). Putting these two definitions together, Hamlet is telling Ophelia that he will slander her reputation to no end if she ever marries. These are very harsh words to a woman that was sure of one’s intention of granting a proposal of marriage.
            If Hamlet did love Ophelia as much as he professed in the letter Polonius read to the King and Queen earlier in the play, something profound had effect on him to drastically change his mind. I still believe that it is the belief that it is the marriage of his uncle and mother. Hamlet’s last remark to Ophelia reads, “…we will have no more marriage. Those that are married already—all but one—shall live; the rest shall keep as they are” (143-145). I cannot help but wonder if Hamlet is saying that he and Ophelia will no longer marry or if he is declaring that he will not stand for any marriage in general. I am almost want to say that Hamlet does not like the idea of anyone marrying, because he says that those who are already married should stay the same; all, that is, but one. That one marriage, I believe, is the one between his uncle and his mother, because it is the only one that has upset him during the entire play.





The conversation between Ophelia and Hamlet in Act 3 Scene 1 is indeed strange. Hamlet seems to be picking flower petals deciding whether or not he loves Ophelia. His indecision could be from madness alone but one might question whether it is all the mistrust built up from his mother’s deception.
            Hamlet first denies giving Ophelia the tokens she returns to him. His denial could be due to his mistrust of women. Perhaps he had forgotten them and he refused to believe her when she told him they were his. He wants to question her chastity before he admits anything as can be inferred from his asking, “Are you honest?” (3.1.104). After his mother’s deception he didn’t believe it was possible that Ophelia, his girlfriend of sorts, wasn’t cheating on him and planning his death as well. Later in the conversation he questions the whereabouts of her father, Polonius. Hamlet fears the plotting of anyone near the king or queen which is one reason why he seems as if he’s gone insane.
            The prince’s indecision in admitting his love seems like a mockery of womanly behavior. He finds women to be deceptive monsters perhaps he was playing a game with Ophelia by claiming, “I did love you once” (3.1.116), then later saying, “I loved you not” (3.1.120). The back and forth of his love and hatred resonates as a way of deceiving her much like he thinks she is deceiving him.
            Hamlet tells Ophelia multiple times to, “Get thee to a nunnery” (3.1.122). This is another strike from Hamlet: Prince of puns. The word nunnery, as is noted in the Bantam Classic version of the play, was used as a different term for convent. It also had a denotation as a brothel. This puns plays off the previous pun where Hamlet asks Ophelia If she is honest. Honest in noted to mean not only telling the truth, but also chaste. The double meanings of both these imply that he thinks her to be an unchaste woman and believes she belongs in a brothel, whereas, others might read it as her being honest and just and belonging in a convent.
            All the rage from Hamlet of her being unchaste comes from his hatred of his mother’s adulterous actions. Polonius might also have played a role in the mistrust since he was the one that suggested Ophelia treat Hamlet as if she was better than her level in the hierarchy, which led Hamlet to believe she was also acting deceptively.



Hamlet’s soliloquy questions both life and life after death and whether or not there is any point. Up to this point in the play, we see his mind slowly start to slip as he is driven to avenge his father’s death. By Act III, he is questioning why anyone would want to endure the pain and suffering that takes place among the living and that in sleep we “end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks” (3.1.62-63).
Hamlet still has a moral compass of what it right and what is wrong within himself, but he does not project this to Ophelia. By this, I mean that he knows he wants to kill his uncle, but he knows that it is wrong to kill someone, and may lead to his own death. He knows that he is being watched by Ophelia’s father and Claudius, and that Ophelia is not being truthful with him. After asking how Ophelia is fairing, he reveals that he did indeed love her, but that she, just like any other woman, is a sinner, a whore, and a liar and that it is much easier for a woman to transform from good to bad than vice versa: “the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness” (3.1.113-114).
This both angers and disappoints him and he proceeds to repeatedly tell Ophelia to “Get thee to a nunnery” (3.1.122) in which footnotes has translated as a brothel.
The significance of this exchange is that had Ophelia been truthful with Hamlet, he may have been able to have something to hold onto. Something to give him faith in humanity. But alas, she is not and thus the unraveling continues for Hamlet.
          

E-G  As 3.2 begins, the hero gives the equivalent of a master class in acting to the players he has hired. Why is it significant for the play as a whole?


It could be that the significance of  Hamlet’s “master class” instruction to the actors in scene 2 of Act III is a nod to the play’s over-arching theme of deceptive. Furthermore, the very idea that Hamlet is illustrating to the players the exact way to give a performance in such a way that it will affect an audience (“you must acquire and beget a / temperance that may give it smoothness” 3.2.6-7) is analogous to the several other well-delivered “performances” throughout the play. For instance, as previously discussed, Claudius’ finely crafted speech at the beginning of 1.2 that deftly encourages the audience to move past the death of his late-brother by putting the joy they should be feeling (due to the recent wedding) on equal footing with the sorrow they are feeling for the death of the former King. Additionally, much is made in the first act of the play about how the ghost appeared in the “fair and warlike form / In which the majesty of buried Denmark / Did sometimes march?” (1.1.46-48). Lastly, the conversation between Polonius and Reynaldo in the first scene of act 2 about how the royal counselor’s servant will surreptitiously go about information about Laertes  clearly shows the Polonius knows how to give good performances.
In addition, the content of Hamlet’s advice to the players could be seen as deeply ironic considering Hamlet’s penchant for being overly-dramatic. For instance, in this scene Hamlet encourages the players to exhibit a certain balance with their portrayals. He advises against the “whirlwind of your passions,” but also tells them “be not too tame neither” (3.2.6-15). This leveling of two extremes is analogous to Hamlet’s famous soliloquy in scene 1 of Act III where he contemplates the two extremes of life and death: “To be or not to be: that is the question” (3.1.55).


Hamlet’s instruction to the players emphasizes how critical the show they are going to put on is to the rest of the play. This show is the turning point for Hamlet. King Claudius’s reaction to the scene where Lucianus pours poison into Gonzago’s ear confirms for Hamlet that what his father’s ghost told him is true; Claudius must have killed King Hamlet.
While being an indicator to the importance of the show, Hamlet’s instructions display his own particular knowledge on the subject of acting. Hamlet seems to know a great deal about plays in general, from his knowledge of the plot of The Murder of Gonzago to his ability to recall and quote numerous lines. He also has a long discussion with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern about the current politics of the city players and the players who have come to play for him. When he asks what players they are Rosencrantz says to him, “Even those you were wont to take such delight / in, the tragedians of the city” (2.2.284-5).
It comes as no surprise, then, that Hamlet should have so much knowledge of acting. He’s taken a keen interest in it during his travels, enough to have gained and maintained a true understanding of the art form. This knowledge has become very useful to him, as Hamlet himself has become an actor during the course of the play.
Shortly after speaking with the ghost of his father and learning about his murder, Hamlet decides that he will take on the disposition of a man gone mad. This is how he plans to get away with taking revenge on his uncle, King Claudius. Hamlet says, “As I perchance hereafter shall think meet / To put an antic disposition on” (1.5.172-3). He says this while convincing the guards Marcellus and Horatio to swear that they will not speak of Hamlet’s visit with the ghost. They do swear, and so promise not to have any knowledge as to the cause of Hamlet’s “insanity.”
There are very few characters that Hamlet chooses to let see his true self after this meeting with Marcellus and Horatio. Nearly all, the King, Queen, Ophelia, and Polonius included, are tricked into believing that Hamlet has lost his mind. However, during his instruction to the players Hamlet does reveal himself. Whether they realize it of not, the players are allowed to see the sharp mind behind Hamlet’s act. The advice that he gives them to act by is the advice that he is currently living by. The state of their livelihood is the state of his life.

H-O  Why does Shakespeare allow the play's antagonist, Claudius, to deliver such an affective and emotional speech in the soliloquy "O my offense is rank, it smells to heaven" (3.3)?

It might seem strange that Shakespeare gave the main antagonist of Hamlet such a long and emotional soliloquy, but it actually is quite effect in making Claudius into a dynamic character as opposed to a villain who has one giant flaw that drives him to evil. Claudius openly acknowledges his crime of killing his brother, the “eldest curse” (3.3.37) referring to Cain and Abel. By saying this, Claudius reveals himself to be the murderer as well as completely coherent when it comes to his crime. There was no doubt that he knew what he was doing when he killed Hamlet Sr. However, the thing that separates him from the typical villain is that he feels guilty about committing the murder. Now that is guilt is starting to get ahold of him, he feels like “A man to double business bound” (3.3.41) or someone who is being pulled between both feeling guilty and feeling pretty good about his new position as king – and his new wife.
By giving his main antagonist a conscience, Shakespeare makes him more human. Yes he calculated and murdered his brother, but he feels strong regret over the act. He Claudius wants to pray and ask for forgiveness, but doesn’t think there is any possible prayer that would work to resolve his sins. He knows what he did was near unforgivable. By talking about these feelings of guilt and greed out in the open, even to no one buy himself, Claudius realizes that although he does regret the murder, and wants to beg God for forgiveness, that there is no hope for his soul and, besides, he likes the power and the Queen he has.


Shakespeare permits Claudius to deliver this speech because it allows the character to have some depth by showing remorse for his actions. If this speech was never delivered then there would not be the same emotional conflict in the reader and Claudius would be seen as a purely evil character, this speech allows for possible empathy to be given to him. Specifically, the lines “What if this cursed hand/ were thicker than itself with brother’s blood/, is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens/ to was it white as snow?” (3.3, 43-46) show not only regret in what he has done, but also a possible willingness to atone for his sins as heaven would want him to. When this is coupled with the fact that this was delivered as a soliloquy, it shows that these are most likely genuine emotions that Claudius feels, and this helps to make the relationship between antagonist and protagonist not seem as black and white as it had before. On top of this there is a bit of this soliloquy that could be applied to Hamlet, which is “In the corrupted currents of this world/ offense’s gilded hand may shove by justice/ and oft ‘tis seen the wicked prize itself/ buys out the law, but ‘tis not so above./ There is no shuffling, there the action lies/ in his true nature, and we ourselves compelled/ even to the teeth and forehead of our faults/ to give in evidence.” (3.3, 57-64), which Shakespeare used to make the reader wonder if the revenge sought by Hamlet is really that morally just when compared to what Claudius did in the first place. According to the laws of men, an act of revenge may be justified due to the fact that Hamlet would be upholding honor and Claudius committed murder for no reason other than personal gain. On the other hand, due to the religious connotation of this speech, the religious side of both acts must be looked at, and when murder is a sin there is not that much of a difference between the murders that Claudius committed and the murders that Hamlet, at this point, plans to commit. This becomes a tool that Shakespeare can use to add complexity to his play depending on how the individual reader analyzes it. If the reader is more impacted by justice on earth then they may see Hamlet as a good character and Claudius as bad, but if they care more about the religious implications of the play it is possible that they think both characters have good and bad qualities, and neither is wholly damned or forgivable. 

The plot of Hamlet revolves around an indecisive protagonist, and a world in chaos. By giving a very unlikable antagonist a soliloquy that shows he is conflicted about the actions he took to achieve his goals it humanizes him. Without this soliloquy the reader, or audience would be incapable of seeing Claudius as anything other than an unfeeling monster who saw nothing wrong with his actions. By depicting him in the way he did Shakespeare gave justification for Hamlet’s indecision in taking his revenge, if Claudius was pure evil, there would be no justification for such hesitation.
            The conflicted nature of Claudius’ decision is can be seen in the following passage, “My fault is past, but, oh, what form of prayer / Can serve my turn? Forgive me my foul murder—“. (3.3.53-54) Here Claudius laments that his fault is in the past, thus he can do nothing to Chang it, nor does he know what prayers might secure his salvation. When he asks for forgiveness Claudius does not simply call his act a murder, but a foul murder, indicating he is aware that he knows how horrible it is to have killed his own brother, to take from him his crown, and his queen.
            Though Claudius is conflicted, he is still an ambitious villain who would not relinquish his ill gotten gains if he could find a way to keep the. This sinister aspect of his nature is shown in the following passage, “My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen, / May one be pardoned and retain th’offense?”. (3.3.55-56) These lines show the desires that drove Claudius to the terrible action of killing Hamlet Sr., the crown he envied to feed his ambition and the queen he desired to satisfy his lust. All of these were denied him by his birth order. He further questions if after being forgiven for his sin her could retain the spoils of his crime, showing that the rewards and not the forgiveness of his immortal soul were what truly mattered to him in the end.



P-R  Some have found Hamlet's soliloquy, "Now might I do it pat, now he is prayhing" (3.3) morally questionable. Why?


Hamlet’s soliloquy might seem morally questionable because as he is attempting to murder Claudius, he catches him in mid prayer and doesn’t follow through with murdering him.  Hamlet doesn’t want to murder Claudius while he is praying because that will send him to heaven and if he sends him to heaven then no revenge has taken place. Instead, he wants to wait until Claudius is in the act of a sin so that he will go to hell.  This is morally questionable because murder is already a sin, let alone purposely waiting to murder someone just so that they will go to hell. 
It’s almost like Hamlet is just making excuses as to why he isn’t murdering Claudius.  It seems like his conscious actually might show during this act and is stopping him from murdering Claudius.  Which would actually prove that he has morals, but this isn’t his excuse on why he doesn’t kill him.  His reasoning for not killing Claudius is where his morals are questioned.  Murdering Claudius isn’t enough for Hamlet to get his revenge.  The real revenge isn’t even murdering him.  The revenge is sending Claudius to hell.  So instead of killing him, he would rather wait until Claudius is performing a sin to kill him.


Hamlet’s soliloquy in 3.3 could be considered morally questionable because he is deliberately postponing Claudius’s murder so he will go to hell. Hamlet doesn’t feel it is adequate revenge to kill Claudius when he is praying because then Claudius will go to heaven, a luxury that Hamlet’s father didn’t get when he was murdered. It would only be true revenge if Claudius dies without first “purging of his soul” (3.3.85) and is sent to purgatory. Hamlet’s reasoning for why he doesn’t kill Claudius could be considered morally questionable because Hamlet wants to purposely send Claudius to purgatory. Murder is already frowned upon, even if Hamlet’s reasoning for murder is justified, but to murder someone in a fashion that doesn’t afford them the chance for last rites could be considered cruel. If the purpose of the murder is revenge then it is understandable for Hamlet to wait to murder Claudius. It would not be revenge if Claudius ended up in heaven. Hamlet says it would be “base and silly, not revenge” (3.3.79) to kill Claudius while he was praying. Hamlet’s murder of his uncle could be accepted as justification for his own father’s murder but purposely waiting so he could catch his uncle in a moment of sin so his uncle would go to hell seems a bit extreme.



S-Z Which lines strike you as most significant and telling in the exchange between Hamlet and Gertrude (3.4)?

A significant line in Hamlet would be when Gertrude told Hamlet “Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.” (3.4.9) the reason this line is significant to me is because Gertrude is talking about Hamlet’s stepfather not his real father. However, Gertrude never says stepfather she says father, from this it shows me that she doesn’t think of Claudius as a stepfather. It also shows that maybe she loves him a lot. She is also upset with Hamlet for offending Claudius.
            Another significant line would be when Hamlet says “Mother, you have my father much offended.” (3.4.10) the reason this line is significant is because Hamlet really is talking about his father. Hamlet is upset with his mother for going and getting married to his father’s brother. Hamlet is mad at his mother because she got over her husband’s death, and moved on very quickly. From this it shows me Hamlet is upset with Gertrude and Claudius and doesn’t want anything to do with his mother and stepfather, he hates having to think about Gertrude and Claudius together in his fathers bed.
            A significant line would be when Hamlet says “Nay, I know not. Is it the king?” (3.4.26) Hamlet was hoping that it was the king and instead it was Polonius. From this line it shows us that Hamlet had killed an innocent bystander and that he thought it was Claudius, it also seems like Hamlet may have wanted to get revenge and wanted to kill the king/stepfather. At this point it looks like he wants to kill Claudius for killing his father and then marrying Gertrude.
            Another line that seems significant would be when Hamlet says “A bloody deed-almost as bad, good mother, as kill a king and marry with his brother.” (3.4.27-28) the reason this line is significant is because this is where Hamlet says that he thinks Gertrude had killed the king and married his brother. That what Gertrude had done was terrible and it was a “bloody deed”.  
            A significant line that Hamlet said was “From the fair forehead of an innocent love and sets a blister there…”(3.4.43-48) from these lines it shows us that Hamlet is saying that Gertrude is a prostitute and it seems to Hamlet that his mother didn’t really mean anything when she had said her vows to his father. That it was all meaningless to her and that she had made false oaths to her husband. This also shows that he doesn’t really care for his mother anymore.

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Act 3, scene 4 of Hamlet reveals a lot to the audience. In this encounter between Hamlet and his mother, the Queen, Hamlet confronts his mother about the murder of his father. In lines 28-29, Hamlet reveals to his mother for the first time that he knows of his father’s murder. Hamlet speaks to his mother and scolds her for her horrible acts of shame. In a span of 34 lines, Hamlet pours his heart out to his mother in frustration and confusion. In this scene, one of the most pivotal points is after this long speech that Hamlet gives.
            Queen stops Hamlet and orders him to “speak no more!” (3.4.88) because she knows that she is found out. She is overtaken by guilt and is scared as to what will happen next. Hamlet continues to go on about her “corruption” and “nasty” acts. This is a turning point for Queen. As she is upset about her son finding out the corruption behind everything between her and Claudius, she begins to beg to her son.
O Hamlet, speak to me no more!
These words like daggers enter in my ears.
No more, sweet Hamlet.
                                    (Hamlet 3.4.94-96)

She recognizes the trouble that she is in. Saying these lines not only show the audience her vulnerability, but it also shows Hamlet that she is guilty. These lines are significant to this exchange as a whole because, even though Hamlet does not acknowledge it at this point, his mother has just revealed her guilt to him. The line right after this, the first line of Hamlet’s next sentence, is also very pivotal. It is not clearly said who this line is addressed towards—Queen or Claudius—but the words “A murderer and a villain” (3.4.97) escape his mouth. Whether this is towards his mother or his uncle, these five words would be a stab at anyone. Making his mother feel even guiltier, Hamlet continues. This whole section of exchanges is significant to not only this scene, but to the play as a whole. 


There are two lines that strike me as most significant and telling the exchange between Hamlet and Gertrude. The one from Gertrude demonstrates her guilt while Hamlet’s quote transparently tells the audience that he has gone mad. Although he says he pretends to be mad in the play, there were already signs that he was drifting that way. He had considered suicide deeply, he pushed Ophelia away, he makes rash decisions about people and then takes his time acting, but when he does act he acts violently and precariously.
Hamlet feels no guilt when he kills Polonius despite the fact that he is Ophelia’s father. He also takes up his time to kill the man who killed his father, but does not know if he can handle the responsibility of taking another person’s life, except when he stabs an innocent man he’s response is not surprise or horror at what he had done, he annoyance at Polonius. Hamlet growls, “Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell” as Polonius gulps down his dying breath (3.4.32). He feels no remorse as he drags Polonius off of the stage. He does not think what will happen to Ophelia, but shrugs off his deed with clear obsession in his eyes about his mother’s and uncle’s actions. Irony screams as the Laertes whose father Hamlet slayed stands up to kill him. He does not empathize with Laertes at all, it appears like he does not even remember that he killed a man.
He is narcissistic about what he has to do, he cares for no one else’s emotions. He was in his lost in his own world. He blames other people for his wellbeing. He desires isolation. He doesn’t falter as he terrifies his mother. He is lost in his own mind for most of the play. He walks for four hours in introspection. “You know sometimes he walks four hours together” (2.2.162). His act causes Ophelia to commit suicide which finally causes him to think of her before himself. 
            Hamlet finally slips into the dark realm, where sanity is left behind and insanity deems holds the tenure of the brain. Even the ghost thinks he has gone too far when he berates his mother in her own chamber. “O, step between her and her fighting soul” (3.4.114). His first kind words to his mother was to ask how she was and it was the only time he cared enough to ask a person how they were and not worry about himself was when the ghost demanded it of him. Yet, he scurried back to his box of blaming everything on others as he discusses the ghost and his madness with his mother. 
Gertrude admits her guilt in scene three. “Thou turn’st mine eyes into my very soul, /And there I see such black and grained spots/As will not leave their tint” (3.4. 90-92). Her sins weigh on her, but she does not wish to confront them. She thinks to herself that she is unforgiveable. What are these transgressions? Is her guilt caused by sleeping with Claudius or is it participating in the death of her husband that taints her soul? The only response to these questions in the play is her suicide.
 If she did not realize that Claudius murdered King Hamlet, she understood it when she recognized that he poisoned her son Hamlet. Gertrude wipes Hamlet’s face before she slips away as if giving her son one last hug goodbye. She did not have confession because she thought her sins were too dark to be healed by God. This is why Hamlet murders Claudius demanding him to “Follow my mother” (5.2.328). According to catholic tradition, without confession they both went to Hell.