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Hamlet, Prince of DenmarkThe issues raised in “Hamlet, Prince of Denmark” by William Shakespeare and in “Dr. Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe are eternal. However difficult it is to discuss them, I have made an attempt to do so. The issues of vengeance, murder and spiritism are all very serious. They demand some knowledge of the Bible, which evidently was very well known to the authors of famous plays. They also demand understanding of the atmosphere of the late sixteenth century. In those times, talks about magic were pervasive. The hell, the purgatory, and the heavens were three destinations where people believed they would go after death. Fear of death, of hell, and of demons was the motive of many people’s actions at that time. Hamlet became guilty of homicide, and Faustus of suicide. This raises the moral question of whether a man is entitled to deprive himself of his own life. Just to what extent is he a master of his own life?.

Frustrations lead to wrong thinking

Underlying in the deeds of protagonists of both stories is the failure to find the purpose of life. For lack of it, the heroes resort to contacts with spirits which they believe to be beneficial. Hamlet, a young man who has lost his father, is in despair and wants to find consolation. Instead, he meets an apparition, a demon, who commands him to kill the killer of his father. Faustus finds that what he is doing as a scholar has little importance. He wants to achieve more, but succumbs to deceitful bargaining of the demon. In both cases, contacts with the apparitions were the key players of further behaviour of both men. Realising that their life has been miserable is the trigger in both dramas that starts the dramatic events. Faustus is apparently dissatisfied with the job he is doing. He despises it, and contemplates his future possibility to do a great thing. His analysis of the job he was doing results in the following: “Affords this art no greater miracle?” – and thus Faustus concludes: “Then read no more.”

When Hamlet comes to the castle and bemourns his deceased father, he utters the words that imply that God’s moral standards are not right: “Or that the Everlasting had not fixt His Cannon ‘gainst Selfe-slaughter.” This exclamation is intended to show that Shakespeare must have had an argument whether a man had a moral right to deprive oneself of his own life in times of extreme tribulation. “O God, O God! How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable Seemes to me all the uses of this world.” – further exclaims the hero. Shakespeare understands what the real cause of his disturbance is: “O Heaven! A beast that wants discourse of Reason Would have mourn’d longer.” – he comments on her mother’s marriage to his uncle within one month after his father’s death. In this case, not the job, but the relations of his parents and his mother’s offensive behaviour are the cause of the hero’s frustration.

The reasonings of the heart supported by the evil spirits

The heart’s wrong reasoning is the second trigger. Faustus comes across a book that was forbidden to read in medieval ages. To a modern-day reader, its bad influence is obvious: the undermining of God’s laws for humans. To be able to write the evil angel’s reasoning, Faustus must have insightfully read the Satan’s statements that he falsely based on the Scriptures in his talk with Jesus, which are quoted in the Gospel of Matthew. Faustus desires to have the powers humans are not endowed. He says to himself: “Couldst thou make men to live eternally, Or, being dead, raise them to life again.” These verses are intended to question God’s position as the Creator and the Provider of life. From the magic book he reads false interpretation of the Bible which says: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us.” These words of the Bible are interpreted in the magic book so that a person has a moral duty to sin, and to eventually die. “Ay, we must die an everlasting death.” – concludes Faustus to himself being misled by these wrong ideas. Instead of turning to the Bible, the original source of knowledge about God, Faustus prefers to nurture the thought about inevitability of death. He he tastes pleasure in his further line of conduct: “Shall I make spirits fetch me what I please?” The reader feels that the author of the book is not with Faustus. He understands the deceitful nature of speculations on the Scripture, and the way such thoughts can mislead a person.

Likewise, Prince Hamlet feels he will find himself rewarded if he kills his father’s enemy. It is mentioned by Hamlet in a slight manner, the writer must have intended to show this thought was occasional in Hamlet’s mind: “Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven, Ere I had ever seene that day.” Like Faustus, Prince Hamlet hopes to compenstate for his frustrations by doing the thing humans are not entitled to do: by killing the one who is presumably guilty. Hamlet wants to talk to his ghost-father being not sure this really is his father. He reasons that the apparition will do no harm to him: “And for my Soule, what can it doe to that?” Shakespeare is not likely to defend mediums and approve of contacts with evil spirits or any spirits, and he implies that even ralatives can be unaware that the ghosts of the dead are actually evil spirits. Seeing no harm in coming into contact with the spirit results in a family tragedy and many deaths. But the writer shows that at leasr once, Hamlet’s deduction was wrong. He killed Polonius presuming that it was Claudius. Shakespeare shows that it is a feature of human nature to make our own deductions, and, without checking them, to act as judges and executors of the verdict. One may be sure that it was not Hamlet’s original intention to kill his beloved one’s father.

Hate increased by disappointment in one’s course of actions

The third point is dissappointment and hate. Faustus comes to hate Mephistophilis. He receives from him not what he ahd expected: neither the answer to his question where the location of the hell is, nor the wife. His expectations not fulfilled after he ahd chosen the wrongful course of action, Faustus blames the spirit servant for his lost prospectives. “And curse thee, wicked Mephistophilis, Because thou hast depriv’d me of those joys.” Does Faustus come to repentance? No, because Christopher Marlowe illustrates a very intricate feature of human nature: we may hate, not the evil itself, but the effects it has. In the given situation, Faustus bemourns his future prospectives and he piites that he will not receive anything from God. Nevertheless, he continues in his wrongdoing.

Hamlet, who was not going to kill Polonius, does not feel repentance for doing so. On the contrary, his hate became even more heated. When asked by Claudius where Polonius is, Hamlet answers threateningly. To put it in a nutshell, he says: “He is where you will be soon.” In Shakespearian verses it sounds as follows: “We fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat our selfe for Magots. Your fat King, and your leane Begger is but variable service to dishes,

but to one Table that’s the end.” Hamlet’s hate is veiled, though. He hypocritically says the relationship between the king and his mother is hallowed, thus pretending he is respectfully admitting his stepfather’s authority over him. “Father and Mother is man and wife: man & wife is one flesh, and so my mother.” What Shakespeare is hinting at is that Hamlet has become dangerous – and his motives are disguised. Though the author does not raise the issue of forgiveness, he shows that silent, hypocritical and seemingly compliance with the offender’s crime is wrong. It evokes suspicions, intrigues, and further crimes. It leaves no room for God to act, for the offender is retributed by the sinful action of the one offensed.

What the writers find to be ironical

The plays demand meditation on our position before God, and whether we want to be influenced by evil spirits. They are difficult to read, not because of the medieval language, but because of the issues raised. In Hamlet, the words life and death occur each one more than thirty times. Ironically, the word good appears twice as often, mostly in speech. When addressing a person, they called him or her good. That must have been intended Shakespeare’s irony to emphasise the tragic outcome. In Dr Faustus, irony is underlying in the speech of the wicked creatures: Lucifer, Mephistophilis, and the evil angel. All their observations as to the huamn nature are true. Sadly, they deliberately provoke humans in Faustus’ person to sin and to become God’s enemies. The demon announces to Faustus God’s ruling: “He that loves pleasure must for pleasure fall.” That calls for a bitter conclusion that “something is rotten, not only in the state of Denmark.,” but in the whole Universe.



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