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Hamlet paper

 
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Scarlet Assassin

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 9:28 am    Post subject: Hamlet paper Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I had to write this paper for an interdisciplinary course. I'm thinking of expanding it into a long project, tell me what you all think so that I'm not wasting my time. It's supposed to be short just so you know.


Machiavelli’s Hamlet

Machiavellian thought is said to be the most widely demonized and misunderstood school by those who decipher it, and its true meaning. While it is true that many of the Machiavellian theories seem immoral, malicious, and inhuman to a biased eye; one must always remember that on the stage of politics, it is might that makes right. Whether that might is martial or diplomatic is entirely the choice of he who holds the power. Few fictional characters epitomize the true potential of Machiavellian thought like Shakespeare’s mad, Danish Prince, Hamlet. And while Hamlet serves as a perfect example of mastery of one’s self and surroundings, his foil (Claudius) works equally well as a model for the ill-advised and uninspired rule that comes from a dull mind who knows not when to act as a fierce lion or a clever fox. Machiavelli warned of this foolish regime in his opus “The Prince” some ninety years before Shakespeare’s play was first performed.
Hamlet is the perfect political figure, by Machiavellian standards, for many reasons. The dichotomy of Hamlet’s natures proves that he is perfectly aware of when to act as he is, and when to act as he should to accomplish his objectives. This is what Machiavelli would call a balance between the Fox and the Lion, who are clever enough to avoid snares, and ferocious enough to frighten wolves, respectively. He is a fox in his relationships as he quickly spots betrayal in Ophelia, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern and dispatches of each accordingly. His clever nature also shows through as he repeatedly discovers plots against him and makes himself aware of spying eyes. He knows when Polonius is watching him, and believes himself aware of Claudius’ every move. However, this is not to say that Hamlet is only a fox, as he is quite often a lion as well; most notably in his public face. His engineering of “The mouse trap” is proof enough that Hamlet is not afraid to show his metaphoric hand of cards when he is in control. By that point in the narrative, Hamlet is sure of Claudius’ guilt, but feels a need to frighten him. Earlier in the story, he demonstrates the same ferocity as he openly mocks Polonius to his face, and blames his non-existent madness. Hamlet is successful, even in Machiavellian terms, for most of the story, however his downfall his twofold in that it leads to his death, and to his loss of power. Machiavellian thought stresses the point that for a politician to be called successful, they much attain and retain their power through carefully planned struggle. Hamlet’s failure to secure the crown for himself is his only failure by this school of thought, but it is his damning shortcoming.
Claudius is much more one-dimensional in his attempt at remaining the dominant force. He is much more the lion than the fox, as he demonstrates on several occasions. His inability to avoid Hamlet’s trap in the form of a play is a great example of Claudius’ failings as a political leader. Claudius’ inability to scheme is another example of how he is unfit to hold power by Machiavellian standards. This is best demonstrated by the closing sequence as all of Claudius’ plans go to ruin by the hand of Hamlet who is able to cunningly avoid every snare laid before him, and quickly adopt the persona of a lion to overcome Laertes and Claudius.
In the end, “Hamlet” proves an interesting study in the practical uses of Machiavelli’s wisdom, and should always be read as such on a subconscious level. Though Hamlet proves unsuccessful in the end, one cannot blame him for a minor slip up after so many triumphant actions.
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iscalio




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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
The dichotomy of Hamlet’s natures proves that he is perfectly aware of when to act as he is, and when to act as he should to accomplish his objectives. This is what Machiavelli would call a balance between the Fox and the Lion

This is not what Machiavelli called Fox and Lion. If anything, then both Fox and Lion describe modi operandi in regard to how the Prince "should" act. I'm not sure what you mean by your distinction between "act as he is" and "act as he should".
Also, Hamlet can only have one nature - per definition of the term. As such you should say "the dichotomy in his nature" instead of "the dichotomy of his natures".


Quote:
should always be read as such on a subconscious level.

This seems like an absurd advice, since a reader who tries to follow it would necessarily do so in a conscious manner.


Your first semicolon makes no sense.
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Timbo

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
Claudius’ inability to scheme is another example of how he is unfit to hold power by Machiavellian standards. This is best demonstrated by the closing sequence as all of Claudius’ plans go to ruin by the hand of Hamlet who is able to cunningly avoid every snare laid before him, and quickly adopt the persona of a lion to overcome Laertes and Claudius.


I think this is pretty inaccurate. Claudius successfully kills Hamlet's father and ceases control of the kingdom and become its king. That is a very Machiavellian way of planning.

He also successfully launches a plan to kill Hamlet, although dying during it. Hamlet doesn't 'cunningly avoid every snare', he falls for Claudius' trap and is killed.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I agree with Timbo. That's also why Claudius is just as often considered to be an example of a Machiavellian Prince as Hamlet is.
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