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Nathan ManibusanMrs. Callaghan Mrs. CastroLanguage Arts IV, Period 221 December 2017Guilt: From Within and Without”A toothache, or a violent passion, is not necessarily diminished by our knowledge of its causes, its character, its importance or insignificance.” -T. S. Eliot. The protagonist in William Shakespeare’s work Hamlet constantly faces self doubt, feelings of powerlessness, and fear as his state of mind leads him to believe he incessantly turns awry from his goals. His drawn out, unclear, and convoluted plans for vengeance of his father’s murder lead to the decay of his call to action; which the character, Hamlet, attributes to cowardice. These feelings categorically fall under an aspect of the human condition that Shakespeare thematically includes throughout Hamlet, guilt. In Act IV, scene IV, Hamlet struggles with his delay of avenging his father; he believes that with time his fiery passion has been significantly reduced and will continue to diminish. Over time, one’s thoughts about an upcoming and important event can be useful in planning and developing a deeper knowledge of an event, but sometimes in doing so some aspects of the human mind can begin to derive feelings of anxiety, angst, and even dread for the event. This is especially true when the initial drive for an event is one of passion, which can weaken over time. “Of thinking too precisely on th’ event,- / A thought which, quarter’d, hath but one part wisdom / And ever three parts coward, – I do not know” (IV.IV.40-43) In these line, Hamlet states his overthinking of the event of avenging his father has caused his “dull revenge” and feels guilt because he believes he should be able to control these feelings. In reality, the human condition and the way our brains are wired forces Hamlet to overthink his actions and causes his guilt to coalesce. Also in the passage, Hamlet explains that his inability to control his thoughts and actions of cowardice makes him allegorically equivalent to a beast/animal. Hamlet is horrified by the prospect that what drives him to postpone his call to action reflects his weakness and the distillation of his powerful and capable human body into one that is incapable and beastily. This is evident when Hamlet says “what is a man, / if his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed? / A beast, no more.” (IV.IV.32-33) This line reflects how Hamlet is experiencing the human condition, specifically guilt, since he believes that his delay of action is dishonoring his father; and feels less of a man due to this reason. When Hamlet exclaims that he has become no more than a “beast”, he means that what makes humans special is their ability to have courage, feelings, and complex and meaningful interactions that directly affect the outcome of the future; but his cowardice has left him feeling impotent and powerless like a dog who can do no more than eat and sleep. These feelings of impotence and guilt are intensified as Hamlet contemplates the meaning/implication of Fortinbras’ armies that march to their deaths in Poland.Hamlet observed when Fortinbras’ armies marched to Poland to fight for a piece of land that was meaningless, that was not even worth “five ducats”. “Witness this army of such mass and charge, / led by a delicate and tender prince, / whose spirit, with divine 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 eggshell.” (IV.IV.46-52) As these courageous men voluntarily and actively marched to risk their lives for a piece of land that is as worthy and fragile as an “eggshell”, for no more than “a trick of fame” , Hamlet can’t help but feel hopeless. In reality, this is to be expected since Fortinbras (and his army) is one of the foils to Hamlet, since he demonstrates action with little thought, which is the polar opposite of Hamlet’s mindset. Guilt in the context of human condition is prevalent here, since Hamlet feels guilt and impotence in the face of this courageous army, but in reality the conflict was foolish and quarrelsome. His somewhat jealous and guilty tones are evident when Hamlet says  “When honour’s at stake. 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… go to their graves like bed, fight for a plo/ whereon the numbers cannot try the cause.” (IV.IV.55-63) Here, the human condition forces Hamlet to feel guilt despite the fact that sometimes action with thought is superior and wiser than action without thought, which is especially true in this context. The protagonist in Shakespeare’s Hamlet faces many sources of torment and anguish throughout his life, and in every instance the source of his grief can be traced to the exterior parts of his story, as well as the interior parts that are found within his mind. This sourcing of suffering and torment from outside sources and within the human mind is a common trope used in Hamlet, and epitomizes how Shakespeare viewed the human condition. In conclusion, within the monologue from Act IV, Scene IV; guilt, the innate sense of grief following a shameful realization of responsibility, is an aspect of the human condition that Hamlet clearly experienced. BibliographyElliot, T.S. “T. S. Eliot Quotes.” BrainyQuote, Xplore, /quotes/t_s_eliot_402908. Shakespeare, William, and John Crowther. Hamlet. SparkNotes, 2003.

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