1. (From Patrick Cruttwell, "The Morality of Hamlet")
...Was Hamlet a good man or was he a bad one? How do we take
his madness-feigned or real, or, if mixed, mixed in what
proportions? And how do we take the obligation of revenge laid on
him by the ghost-as a true moral duty, recognised as such by the
price himself and to be accepted as such by us, or as a
temptation to wrong doing?...If then we accept, as I have argued
we must, Shakespeare's acceptance in Hamlet of the ethic of
revenge, we must accept also that the man who follows this ethic
with courage and responsibility cannot be doing wrong, whatever
mistakes or inevitable damage to others may befall him on the
2. (From Patrick Cruttwell, "The Morality of Hamlet")
..."It is the whole life of action violence, intrigue, and public
duty that he is reluctant to enter; he would rather be in
Wittenberg, with his books. What he really is, is a conscript in
a war. He has done things, as we all do in wars, he would rather
not have done; but he believes it to be a just war, and all in
all, he has borne himself well. That this was how Shakespeare saw
it, the ending of the play convinces me; for why else should
The soldiers' music and the rite of war
Speak loudly for him?
3.(From George Bernard Shaw, Back to Methuselah)
..."When he finds he cannot kill in cold blood he can only
ask,'Am I a coward?' When he cannot nerve himself to recover his
throne he can account for it only by saying, 'I lack ambition'.
Had Shakespeare plumbed his play to the bottom he would hardly
have allowed Hamlet to send Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their
death by a forged death warrant without a moment's scruple."
..."If we want to know how Shakespeare and his audience
conceived of real insanity, we can turn to Titus, Lear, and
Ophelia. Each of them loses touch with reality. And even better
test is provide by Edgar. Since Edgar completely submerges his
own identity in order to counterfeit madness, his actions are
good evidence of how Shakespeare's audience expected a real
madman to behave."
1. Summarize in your own words the argument in each of the above
2. Choose one of the above quotations that you agree or disagree
with and explain why you agree or disagree.
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