Act 4 Scene 4 Hamlet Essay Topics

How all occasions do inform against me,
And spur my dull revenge!

Here Hamlet is looking at the world and how everything around him points out how wrong his actions are. To inform against, literally means to accuse (Dolven). It is as if the world itself and all situations he finds are accusing him of apathy and reminding him of the his inability to complete his revenge.

What is a man,
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more.

This is a more direct and self explanatory line than one often finds in Shakespeare, while at the same time bearing with it a powerful depth. Hamlet is saying that a man who exist but to eat and sleep is no more than a mere animal. Man is a being made to think, to reason, to laugh, to love, to create art, and to seek higher goals and more meaningful pursuits than simply survival. This point reminds me of another passage by one of the 20th Century's greatest thinkers, C. S. Lewis. In his essay Learning in War-TimeLewis writes "Human Culture has always had to exist on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself... The insects have chosen a different line; they have sought first the material welfare and security of the hive, and presumably they have their reward. Men are different. They propound mathematical theorems in beleaguered cities, conduct metaphysical arguments in condemned cells, make jokes on scaffolds, discuss the last new poem while advancing to the walls of Quebec, and come their hair at Thermopylae. This is not panache; it is our nature." (Lewis)

Sure, he that made us with such large discourse,
Looking before and after, gave us not
That capability and god-like reason
To fust in us unused.

This is a very interesting point. Hamlet is saying that God did not give humanity the ability to think, to look to the past and future and reflect on what has been and what could be, just for us to waste it. To fust literally means to decay. Hamlet praises human knowledge and reason, calling it "god-like", and warns that if unused it will eventually die and rot away.

Now, whether it be
Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple
Of thinking too precisely on the event,
A thought which, quarter'd, hath but one part wisdom
And ever three parts coward, I do not know
Why yet I live to say 'This thing's to do;'
Sith I have cause and will and strength and means
To do't.

There is quite a lot in this sentence. Hamlet's main point is that he does not know how he can live knowing what he should do, and having all means strength, and desire to do so, yet still having the deed remain undone. He begins by saying that it may be animal-like forgetfulness or a fear coming from over-thinking the situation and to carefully considering the consequences, a type of reasoning which would only be one quarter reason and three quarters cowardice.

Examples gross as earth exhort me:
Witness this army of such mass and charge
Led by a delicate and tender prince,
Whose spirit withdivine ambition puff'd
Makes mouths at the invisible event,
Exposing what is mortal and unsure
To all that fortune, death and danger dare,
Even for an egg-shell.

Here Hamlet looks out at the army before him and see's how they go to war, risking their lives for a a worthless "eggshell" of a patch of ground. He see's the prince, young and inexperienced ("delicate and tender"), standing off and laughing in scorn (making mouths at) at the unforeseenoutcome (invisible event) of the battle, and sending his men off to ultimate danger, and even death.

Rightly to be great
Is not to stir without great argument,
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
When honour's at the stake.

In this section, Hamlet reflects on the nature of greatness. There are two compelling interpretations of his thoughts on greatness. The first is that greatness means to refuse to stand back and wait and wait for an excuse to act, but to find a compelling reason out of triffling matters, when honor is at stake (Dolven). The other is that greatness does not mean to wildly, and violently stand against any slight offense, but to find a true reason to defend one's honor that which may simply appear to be triffling matters.

How stand I then,
That have a father kill'd, a mother stain'd,
Excitements of my reason and my blood,
And let all sleep, while, to my shame, I see
The imminent death of twenty thousand men,
That, for a fantasy and trick of fame,
Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot
Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
Which is not tomb enough and continent
To hide the slain?

Quite a bit is said in this massive sentence. Here marks the central move in Hamlet's turning point. This is the crescendo of this soliloquy, where it reaches it's most intense and passionate. Hamlet has contemplated the brave actions of the soldiers as they march off to imminent doom for the shear sake of honor of king and country, yet Hamlet has not taken arms against the massive affront to the personal honor of himself, his father, his mother, and the state of Denmark itself. His father was murdered, his mother stained with incest, by marrying her husbands brother. These sick action provoke his sense of reason and his passions (excite his reason and blood) to just revenge. He laments the fact that to his shame twenty thousand men go to their doom as easily as the would go to bed, all for an illusion (a fantasy and trick of fame). They fight for a small piece of land not even large enough to hold the graves of all who will die there; yet he, who would be fighting for something real, has don nothing, despite the fact that he has the means and strength and desire to do it.

O, from this time forth,
my thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!

With this, Hamlet vowes to think of nothing else but his bloody revenge against his uncle. From this moment forth he promises to stand for nothing else than that which he long knew he must do, and Hamlet makes good on his vow. The rest of Hamlet's actions throughout the play focus on executing his revenge, which eventually culminates on one of the most tragic and heartbreaking scenes in the whole of english liturature.

Hamlet Soliloquy Act 4 Scene 4

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In the sixth soliloquy of Hamlet, written by Shakespeare, Hamlet finally begins to realize his procrastination. In this soliloquy we discover how Hamlet is purely a follower; he needs to compare himself to another person in order to realize his own flaws. This constitutes his madness as he is seemingly an intelligent man, as suggested by some of his previous soliloquies, but yet is unable to see his own wrongdoings until after it becomes too late. In his sudden realization, he confesses his procrastination and it all becomes clear that he was aware of it the whole time.

It thus can be concluded that Hamlet has been fooling us, as all of his wise choices seem to come after some unusual circumstances and not solely from his intellect. Hamlet starts off with a terse statement indicating that he was given “all occasions” (32) and yet did not act upon it, which is marked by his “dull revenge” (33). Rather than to slowly ease his way to his point, he chooses to start out strongly, in turn, revealing how quick he must have came to this realization.

It suggests that it must have always been at the top of his head at one point or another as its sudden appearance came at the very beginning of the soliloquy. He goes on to compare himself to that of a “beast” (35) asking the rhetorical question of “What is a man/If his chief good and market of his time/Be but to sleep and feed? ” (33-35). By questioning his own worth, its shows his acceptance and admittance to the matter. He acknowledges and attempts to better himself as the first step to recovery is recognizing one’s problem.

As to comparing himself to the likes of an animal, which suggests his sense of uselessness and self degradation, at the same time, confirms his feelings of guilt and thus illustrates the intense emotional impact it must have had on him upon his realization. As the soliloquy continues, Hamlet begins to become more specific, throwing out references to his previous mistakes, that is, by delaying Claudius’s death. He claims, at the time, to be “thinking too precisely on th’ event” (41).

This is a reference to his so called logical thinking in the fifth soliloquy, admitting that he indeed was thinking too heavily on the event given such a perfect window of opportunity. He further continues to beat himself up by classifying his decision as “one part wisdom/And ever three parts coward” (42-43) meaning that his seemingly logical thinking in his fifth soliloquy of extending Claudius’s life was all in fact mostly composed of fear rather than good judgment. His last onfession came as he claims that it was all in his power to do justice as he possesses the “cause”, “will”, and “strength” but yet chose not to follow through. It can thus be concluded that at the time he possessed all these qualities to justify his actions, but he was supposedly unaware of it as he was blinded by the reasons he admits above: fear. All in all his list of regrets when combined with the terse statements, shows his organization and well thought out statements which in the end gives evidence of his awareness during the whole ordeal up until this point of confession.

Upon analyzation of Hamlet’s previous soliloquies, it can thus be conclusive that Hamlet has been fooling us about his intelligence this whole time. Such is evident in the third soliloquy as he portrays his envy of the actor’s passion, commenting on their abilities to “force” their “soul” to take part in fictional plays of “dream” and “passion” (510-511). Hamlet at that moment begins to realize his own flaws, but it was made apparent through his jealousy of the actors and their skills to portray emotions.

The realization of his flaw thus causes him to think outside of the box, mainly his need to confirm whether or not the ghost was lying to him as Hamlet describes the ghost to be that of a potential “devil” (561). Thus the ghost may be manipulating his weak emotions. Likewise, as in the sixth soliloquy, Hamlet compares himself to both Fortinbras and his army. He becomes envious of Fortinbras and his courage in “Exposing what is mortal and unsure/To all that fortune, death, and danger dare” (50-51) for something as questionable and meager as, in his understatement, an “eggshell” (52).

Fortinbras, as Hamlet describes, is able to act without any fear of death “When honor’s at the stake. ” (55) Everything that Fortinbras is seems to be the opposite of Hamlet, even though they are both seeking revenge and have lost a father. Thus Fortinbras’s presence reminds Hamlet of his own goals he originally set out for. It was due to Fortinbras and his army of “twenty thousand men” who “Go to their graves like beds” that allowed Hamlet to question his own courage and thus see his flaw. His fear of his own death which was supposedly decided in his fourth soliloquy is now once again troubling his own mind.

Should he risk his life and face the unknown afterlife in his quest of vengeance? His intellect portrayed in the fourth soliloquy steered him into the belief that he should choose life over suicide, for fear of the “undiscovered country” (81) in which “no travelers return” (82). Though the image of “twenty thousand men” marching to their deaths and fighting for a piece of land which is not even “tomb enough and continent/To hide the slain” gives reason for Hamlet to doubt his courage as he is afraid of death whereas Fortinbras and his army is not.

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In Hamlet’s book, this is a suicidal attempt, the act which he decided against in the fourth soliloquy. Hamlet’s intelligence thus portrays his madness as it is not his ability to make smart decision, but rather the realization caused by other circumstances that makes him aware. Hamlet thus can be concluded to be revealing his ignorance in his soliloquies rather than intellect we all have been fooled to believe as he is always switching back and forth between progressing and regressing and vice versa.

Author: Brandon Johnson

in Hamlet

Hamlet Soliloquy Act 4 Scene 4

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