Wit: The Greatest Weapon or Biggest Weakness?

27 Jan

From the beginning of this scene, a reader is exposed to the already rapid development of Hamlet. In some essence, Hamlet has, in fact, fallen victim to a “witchcraft of wit”(a quality the ghost uses to describe Claudius) which he is able to utilize to persuade Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that he is in fact crazy as Polonius, Claudius, and Gertrude hypothesize. What I find most intriguing, however, is that Hamlet’s wit is his greatest power and his greatest weakness. For example, on page 103, lines 330 to 334, Hamlet attempts to convince Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that he is depressed. Nevertheless, Hamlet describes his depression by proclaiming the numerous beauties of nature and then stating that he no longer has the ability to appreciate them; where as, an actually depressed person would no longer be able to see the beauty in anything. Whether the characters catch it or not, Hamlet is undoubtably a genius when it comes to manipulation and ‘pretending to be crazy’. Nonetheless, by the end of the scene, Hamlet drafts an incredulous plan to decide the fate of Claudius through his expression to “The Murder of Gonzago” and one begins to see that Hamlet’s “witchcraft of wit” may be taking over him enough to actually drive himself insane. The question remains, however, whether or not Hamlet, as an avenger, is any better than Claudius, the murder.

-Taylor Pearson


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