“Reason versus Passion”
Human conscience at times of decision making may betray or deceive us due to conflict of factors within ourselves. The biggest paradox when making decisions may be the conflict between the mind and the heart; reason and passion. Shakespeare, in his usual self of creating characters who mirror society and expose human weakness explores deep on the lack of rationale or set paradigm in decision making, and action when at the odds of reason and passion.
In the Hamlet, Shakespeare characterizes his protagonist as a character who is heavily afflicted by rational decision making as well as supporting the dramatically catchy and alluring thought of passion versus passion through other dramatic elements too. The end results of character choices reflect the yields of both passion and reason.
In plot, Shakespeare employs his literary genius to dissuade the audience, albeit subconsciously, from being too serious by characterizing a ghost thereby curtailing serious and reasonable assumptions from the audience. An argument can be pushed to view the intentional use of a ghost, for such a large part of the play as an attempt to bring fantasy on stage and from the actions of characters guided by the ghost, the phenomenon can, in literary terms, be a dramatic portrayal of our passions.
Hamlet has been characterized as a strong character and the expectation would be that he would not make any irrational decisions. At the beginning of the play he is capable of containing his passion; this however ebbs away with time. The reason Shakespeare characterized him so and then brought the emotive issue of is father’s death was to have an apt character to bring out passion and reasoning. The ghost of his father leads him to contemplating murder; this is an emotional decision for him due to the apparent lack of evidence. Hamlet is so bent on doing it but keeps on procrastinating due to the voice of reason within him. These two sides in the same person provide a spectacle of conflict within the same person. At first all he wants is to avenge his father (passion) but upon the growing skepticism towards the ghost, he changes his mind.
The graveyard scene shows best Hamlet’s passion. In his oratorio, he shows the height of his passion in the events of his father’s death and his apparent love for Ophelia. Later he is at it again feeling very angry with her and expressing his hatred towards her. This shows that Hamlet was therefore making decisions based on passion. It is however this passion that gets the lonely Hamlet thinking about the importance of life after consideration of the father’s demise. His passion therefore degenerates into reason as he critically reviews life.
The events around his passion (or lust) for her lead to the eventuality of killing Polonius accidentally and hence becoming just as bad as the man he loathed Claudius. The fact that Claudius murdered Hamlets father for the throne and for his love for Gertrude makes his choices seem well calculated, premeditated and worthy whereas Hamlet had n reason to kill at all. This sets them apart with Hamlet seemingly becoming the bad one.
A choice made by the right person but under, and for, the wrong reason leads to regrettable repercussions. Whereas Hamlet fought for justice he lost to Claudius who had control over his passion and reason. He remained calm and collected; never losing sight on his eventual aim.