Thursday, November 19, 2015

Repentance

The whole play focuses a lot on the idea of repentance. Hamlet is very concerned with this whole concept, often making choices and judging situations based on whether or not someone has repented before death. Hamlet's father is in purgatory because he did not repent before he was murdered. Hamlet is angry at Claudius not only because he killed his father, but also because Claudius did not allow time for his father to repent. Hamlet also begs Gertrude to confess her sins. He seems worried about what will happen to her in the future. Also, he does not kill Claudius in the moment he sees him praying because he does not want to grant Claudius the favor of access to Heaven. As concerned as Hamlet is throughout the play about this whole idea of confessing, he doesn't seem to stick to that when it comes to his own death. He basically tells Horatio, "Whatever happens, happens. I don't really care if I live or die." This is kind of a spur of the moment decision because he does not sense his death coming until he actually arrives at the dual. He lies till the very end, telling Laertes that it was his "madness" that drove him to kill Polonius and claiming that he himself is a victim. If he would've followed through about his belief of the importance of repentance, I don't think he would have acted so hastily.

5 comments:

Abbey said...

Woah that's a really interesting point you make! I never really thought about that. Hamlet is concerned with how other people are gong to end up--whether they'll go to heaven or hell--but he takes no time to consider his own afterlife. Reading this post made me think of the souls who asked Dante to go back and clear their name. Hamlet is really interested about his own reputation on earth and he wants Horatio to tell the real story and explain to others why he was so "mad." He is only worried about how people will perceive him after he is gone when he should be worried about how God will accept him. If you look at it one way you could say Hamlet is a selfish character. He caused, directly or indirectly, the deaths of seven (Claudius, Gertrude, Polonius, Laertes, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern) people (8 if you include Hamlet himself) after all. I know he was just trying to do what was right at the time and avenge his father's death, but 8:1 is a pretty bad ratio.

Madison Cummings said...

When comparing Hamlet's sin to Claudius's sin you can definitely argue that Hamlet's sins are much worse. As Abbey mentions, Hamlet caused 7 deaths other than his own, while Claudius only kills King Hamlet. We do not get much insight on exactly why Claudius kills King Hamlet. I think that the main reason is that Claudius wanted the power, but who knows if he had more justified reasons at the time? Even when Claudius is trying to repent for his sin, he only says that he wishes it was not such a horrible thing to kill kin. He does not, however, seem to miss his brother or regret taking control. In his mind he could have considered killing King Hamlet the right thing to do. On the other hand, Hamlet does not have much reason at all to kill Claudius except for the fact that he must avenge his father. This seems more of a necessary chore for him as opposed to an act of passion. This is exemplified by his hesitation throughout the entire play to take revenge. Although I don't think it is right to murder anyone, it would seem better to do so passionately and with good reason (which could have possibly been Claudius we don't really know) vs. some required chore (which is what Hamlets revenge seems to appear to be).

master123 said...

Back to Hamlet almost killing Claudius while he was repenting, I feel as if Hamlet could have killed him while he was praying. I feel this way because Claudius's lines that show him praying/repenting say that his words are like weights and they are not floating up to heaven. Claudius feels that his sin is so great that he will not be forgiven by god, Claudius also mentions that he is almost unable to God will no be herd, therefore if Hamlet were to kill him, he would not go to heaven. Then again this scene just further emphasizes Hamlets delay and his great flaw of being indecisive.

Jack Zheng said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheyenne Dwyer said...

That's an interesting way of thinking about it.... But I almost think that Hamlet was so worried about everyone repenting because he was worried about the afterlife and the whole play he has monologues about death and how he doesn't know what will come after, so he projects those worries onto others by worrying about their sins and their repentance in hopes that they will end up where he wants them to- Gertrude in heaven and Claudius in hell- but when it comes to where Hamlet himself will end up- he is filled with uncertainty and that scares him. Personally I was kinda proud of hamlet when he decided to wait to kill the king to ensure he would end up in a bad place- I mean if you're gonna do it do it right- but the whole time he wasn't even sure if these places he was hoping these people would go even existed- it wasn't until the end when he finally could put his rage and his revenge before his worries that he didn't concern himself with what would come after- like you mentioned- he had finally reached the point where he knew there wasn't much he could do about it since he didn't know what was coming so he accepted his fate like a champ.