Knowledge is the key. The question is, the key to what? After obtaining this proverbial key, where do we go? What good will it do? What will we uncover? It seems as though the more questions we ask, the more we learn and discover the world around us and the more we learn and discover, the more questions we ask, and so the cycle repeats. It’s a cycle of growth that allows us to uncover bits and pieces about the world we live in.
After all that, I guess it becomes pretty obvious that questions and questioning the world around you is pretty important. Sure it’s essential to fundamental scientific breakthroughs and self-discovery, yet does all this questioning get you anywhere? Do these questions mean anything without answers? Does asking all these questions get you anywhere if you don’t act upon them? This is Hamlet’s predicament. He’s filled with questions, yet between all his questioning and philosophical thinking, there’s no action. Throughout the play he goes on THINKING about how Claudius murdered his father, he QUESTIONS his life and yet there’s not much ACTING upon his thoughts, no actions to implement the answers he feels are correct.
I think a lot of us go through this as well. We wake up every morning, go to school, sit in class, and prepare our minds for a wealth of knowledge that could potentially mean nothing at all to us. Sometimes I wonder whether a lot of us actually learn through the current education system. Sure it works for some people (I certainly have no quarrels with it, though getting higher marks would be a nice) but do the majority of us students actually learn? Sure we ask questions in class and ponder different ideas and theories and laws, but once that bell rings or that exam is over, do you act upon the questions we asked? Do we actually search for answers to those newly discovered questions? Do we act upon those answers in hopes to make this world a better place? I think that is the question.
A quick Google search of the definition of the word mad will tell you the following:
This makes the word mad more than apt to describe Hamlet in the second act of Shakespeare’s play. Hamlet, is enraged. In fact, Hamlet is so greatly provoked over the murder of his father, the late king of Denmark, and so irritated at the marriage of his mother, Gertrude, to his uncle Claudius, who he believes to be the murderer, that Hamlet becomes well, mad. To the world around him, the Prince of Denmark is truly insane, yet in the mind of Hamlet he is still in control (whether he’s in complete control is another matter). His outward madness is not without calculation though, as Hamlet proves to be one shrewd fellow. He believes that his calculated madness and insane scheme is the key to unlocking his uncle’s secret, the key to avenging is fathers death.
Its during Hamlet’s state of madness that he says the most striking things. His witty phrases and sharp mind, all under the cloak of mental instability, allow him to say things he would normally never say. Hamlet’s feigned madness becomes his mask and humor his dagger. Reading the single-sided verbal spar between Hamlet and Polonius is incredibly amusing. His insults, ranging from “fishmonger” (Act II, scene ii, 173) to “It shall to the barber’s, with your beard.“ (475), fool Polonius into thinking that he has completely lost his marbles while at the same time gives Hamlet the pleasure of expressing his true feelings towards him.
This scene seems to be extremely important yet at the same time incredibly light-hearted and humorous. It revels the extent Hamlet is willing to go in order to try to bring back order to a world that, for him has turned completely inside out. It shows the extent of Hamlet’s anger and grief. I think most importantly it shows Hamlet’s complete love for his father and his willingness to place himself in such a position so that he may finally avenge his death.
In the dead vast and middle of the night
Been thus encount’red. A figure like your father,
Armed at point exactly, cap-a-pe,
Appears before them and with solemn march
Goes slow and stately by them.
It’s an ominous way to start off a play. With scenes of a ghost, one who should be dead yet isn’t. As a person with a logical more scientific mindset, the whole notion of ghost is something quite unbelievable. I guess the same could be said for Horatio who, when told about the ghost, would not believe it until he saw it for himself, says “’tis but our fantasy” (23). To not believe and yet have a ghost appear, an apparition, a sign of the dead, the coming back of the lifeless, clearly shakes him. The fact that the even notion of a ghost appearing shakes him, is not surprising. His beliefs lie in the natural law and order of the world, yet there it is, as plain as the night. How do you disbelieve what is in front of you? In retrospect, can you trust your thoughts and beliefs?