Friday, 27 November 2009

Hamlet: his problem

King: He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found the head and source of all your son's distemper.
Queen: I doubt it is no other but the main, his father's death and our o'erhasty marriage.
Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2, lines 54-57

Hamlet had problems. He had internal and external conflicts, including difficulty in knowing who to trust. Can he trust the new king? Can he trust the apparition? Can he trust his friends? Can he even trust himself? Is he delusional or of sound mind? Did he of a truth experience conversation with the ghost of his father, or has his mind, or perhaps a villainous spirit, implanted these notions of a murderous explanation to king Hamlet's demise? Can he justly impregnate his uncle with the blame of murder? Is his own mother trustworthy, or has the hasty transfer of spouses displayed her true colours? Both the internal and external are combined in the dilemmic conundrum of Hamlet's social conversation during the navigation of the metaphysical labyrinth.

Junior Hamlet's father died; his uncle had both taken his father's crown and wife. Hamlet was displeased at the lack of a grieving period of proper duration. Hamlet's mother married too soon after Senior Hamlet's death. This swift marriage looked to Hamlet as a form of infidelity, a lack of dutiful love and devotion to the Late King Hamlet. This tragic, unsuspected death and impatient matrimonial union both in combination caused Hamlet to, in a form, lose his entire parental unit. Even before the spectral visitation, treachery was suspected, although not treacherous murder but a similitude of treachery on the part of those who's rightful occupation should have been mourning. Hamlet's father had been erased without warning, cause, or reason.

Oh, that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! Oh, God! God!
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on 't, ah, fie! 'Tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed, things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
But two months dead! Nay, not so much, not two.
Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2, lines 129-138.

The anguish of Hamlet's recent life happenings were complicated by the message delivered by none other than the phantasm of his father. The spirit informed Hamlet of its condemnation to purgatory and the suffering thereof, and gave reason for the recent death. Murder, foul and unnatural, untimely and traitorous; the mutineer the thief. King Hamlet was killed by his brother before his recent sins could be accounted for, and so lost life, kingdom, wife, and amnesty from purgatory. Grave tidings indeed, and much evil accusation on the head of young Hamlet's uncle.

Following the ghastly herald's visit Hamlet must, in the midst of the emotional storm caused by recent events of death, marriage, and haunting, resolve the puzzle laid before him by his father's spirit. Is the ghost worthy of trust? The ghost's authority and the validity of the tale are things Hamlet was unsure of, but had sincere suspicions upon. A test had to be devised for the purpose of proving the new information. Should the test reveal accuracy in the apparition's story, the riddle of right action becomes the argument of the mind.

Further complications were imposed on young Hamlet by the members of the royal court. The king and queen, as well as their courtiers, were concerned about Hamlet's depressed countenance and further alarmed when he behaved with a semblance of insanity. After the encounter with the ghost, Hamlet chose to act as if he had lost his wit so as to defend his purpose of espionage. Normal behaviour was reserved for Horatio, Hamlet's only trusted partner and fellow investigator. When alone or with his detective associate, Prince Hamlet lost his disguise, but in all other company a facade of madness was instilled. Thus perturbation marked the brains of Elsinore, giving hospitality to the guests scheme and plot. The king and his cohorts directed shenanigans to solve their problem of Hamlet.

Hamlet needed to retribute the assassination, but first the facts about the coup needed to be verified. Is Hamlet's uncle a treacherous killer? Guilt must find it out. For this purpose, Hamlet staged a theatrical display of regicide in order to gage the countenance of the king upon his observation of the spectacle. Hamlet needed to acquire a second opinion to insure the trial, but a single juror was all he could muster because his friend base was well nigh vacant, for his mother's defection and the presence of betrayal and intrigue left him quite alone to solve the matters, and Horatio was his only comrade. To forbid the existence of misinterpretation Hamlet employed Horatio's witness to appreciate the king's response to the entertainment. The enlisted ranks were small but adequate for the task, and guilt was found in the royal person.

Hamlet's problem of discovering the reason behind his father's death, and the guilty party, were solved without excess of difficulty, but his main problem was still at large. The major problem was what to do about the crime. The princely vigilante set about to avenge his father and sort out the mess, and complications and resolutions occupied the majority of Shakespeare's play, with the final action of Hamlet and his solution falling within the finale. There were other issues, but they are side or sub items adding flavour.

The business of Ophelia was a concern of Hamlet's, but not counted among his problems. His relationship with her was put on hold, and later ended. Hamlet's sincerity in regard to Ophelia may be postulated upon, and he did have love for her even if the quality of that love could be subpoenaed for doubt. When conversing with her under hidden watch, Hamlet admitted to loving her once, but also stated that he loved her not; later at her funeral he declared his past love for her. Her death and the accidental manslaughter of her father added to the complications, but Hamlet's problem was of his father's murder and the responses to his antics. The Ophelia affair was but a segment of the problem of the royal court's dealings with Hamlet, and the royal court's responses to the prince's behaviour was but a convelusion to the problem of the regicide.

Fortinbras and the Norweigan conflict was even more removed from young Hamlet. The murdered king had a war with Norway, and this lead to further military conflict between Norway and Denmark, but the international conflict was between people who were segregated from the immediate concerns of Hamlet with the exception of the king of Denmark, but the matter was only a distraction and not pertinent to the Danish prince affair. Norway was a part of the story but not of Hamlet's problems.

The saga of the Prince of Denmark bears many storylines. There are problems, solutions, conspiracies, concerns, and affairs, but most are decorations to Hamlet's problem of his father's death. And so, although garnished with many side and sub stories, it becomes apparent that the tale of Hamlet is that of a man plagued with the disease of family problems.