Hamlet Essays Critical Analysis

      A black child is born and twelve years later that same child asks, "How do you get someone to love you?" The answer can't be found in Mrs. MacTeer's songs or in the Maginot Line's description of eating fish together, and even Claudia doesn't know because that question had never entered her mind. If Claudia had thought about it, she would have been able to explain to Pecola that although she didn't know exactly how you made someone love you that somehow she knew that she was loved. That love was expressed on those cold autumn nights when Claudia was sick and loving hands would gently touch her forehead and readjust her quilt. Those were the same loving hands that told Claudia that they did not want her to die, and those were the loving hands of her mother, Mrs. MacTeer. Unfortunately, Pecola had no loving hands to comfort her.
      In America, in the 1940's, white supremacy reigned and the values of the white dominant group were internalized by the black community in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. These images were reinforced in children's literature, on billboards and even on the giant theater screens. Although the effects of this propaganda rippled throughout the black community, its most devastating consequences were inflicted by Pauline Williams. Perhaps it was because she had always been a dreamer and she had to fantasize in order to escape her daily grind that the silver screen was able to captivate her. Once her education was complete, and she had been indoctrinated by the standards of this medium, she could never look at the world the same way again. Everything was now assigned a category; there was good and evil, white and black, beauty and ugliness, and she would be its judge.
      Prior to her instruction, Pauline Williams loved the colors of purple berries, yellow lemonade and the streaks of green the June bugs made in the trees at night. When she first met Cholly, she felt that her savior had come to take her home and to protect her from all the ravages of the impending storms. But Cholly was only a man, a man that carried the scars of abandonment on a trash heap by his mother and rejection at a crap game by his father. Cholly, who tried to anesthetize himself with booze, for the humiliation and degradation he experienced by sneering white men, with flashlights, who stole his manhood. In the beginning, filled with the promise of young love, things went well for Cholly and Pauline in the North. However, as time went by, the colors of Pauline's youth begin to fade as her loneliness consumes her, and she is forced into the picture show for her tutoring.
      The giant screen allows her to escape her homesickness, Cholly's abandonment and the colored folks meanness. When the screen lights up, Pauline is transported into a world where she sees white men taking good care of their wives and where the women are dressed up and live in beautiful clean houses. The images are white, they are happy, and they are beautiful, and so Pauline devours these false portraits, and consequently coming home to Cholly becomes more and more difficult. Pauline tries to accept her circumstances, and begins to joyfully look forward to her second pregnancy. This time she convinces herself that things will be different, because she is not afraid and she has vowed to love it, no matter what it looks like. Pauline begins to lovingly talk to her child while it is still in her womb, and she feels good about this baby up until the end. But when the healthy, smart, baby girl is born, Pauline is repulsed by her looks, and tells the Lord how ugly she is.
      It would be very easy at this time to blame society, White and Black, for Pauline's predicament, but I cannot accept this, and am unwilling to let Pauline off the hook so easily. Pauline, unlike Cholly, knew what it was like to grow up with a sense of family. She lived in a nice house with her sisters and brothers and both of her working parents. And even though Pauline had a feeling of separateness and worthlessness which she attributed to her foot, I still suspect that she had good family role models. For example, whenever someone in her family accidentally scattered one of her arrangements, they always stopped to retrieve them for her. Therefore, her complaints of not having a nickname or family anecdotes or a separate pot of rice and peas seem a little hollow. Instead, I think her family was attentive to her needs and considerate of her feelings. Because of her background, and the kin whom she stated she missed when she went up North, I think it was her responsibility to be the role model for Cholly, Sammy and Pecola.
      Pauline also claimed to be a good God-fearing woman, yet she went to Church and cloaked herself in her-self-righteousness, and used Cholly as her scapegoat. She became a martyr and held up Cholly as a model of sin and failure, but Cholly was easy, and she manipulated and used him for her own selfish sinful deeds. Pauline never looked into her own blackish heart, she never saw beyond Cholly to her own inequities. She seemed to be only interested in gaining approval and pity from the church women who had ridiculed and scorned her. Unfortunately, this single-mindedness caused her to abandon her children. Pauline was going to punish Cholly for not being her savior, but in her quest she denied her children, especially Pecola/ their savior.
      Love has many facets, but children's needs from love are simple and are usually transmitted through a sense of being wanted and ultimately by being protected. These feelings were communicated by Mrs. MacTeer to Claudia when she was sick, to Frieda when she was molested by Mr. Henry, and even to Pecola when she begins to menstruate and soils her dress. Mrs. MacTeer lives in the same black community as Pauline, she is exposed to the same white propaganda, and she also is angry with her poverty, yet she does not blame the children, she blames the situation. Three quarts of milk have disappeared, and even though Mrs. MacTeer knows that Pecola drank it, she does not actually blame Pecola, she blames the circumstances and her mother, Pauline. What kind of a woman, a mother, would not check to make sure that her child is alive or dead, and whether or not she has enough food to eat. She was not Mrs. MacTeer's natural child In nor a relative, yet she treated Pecola better than Pauline ever had.
      It would be very easy to portray Pauline as a weak, ignorant woman who didn't know any better, but that would be false. If she were weak, she would have succumbed to the white woman's wishes, and would have left Cholly in order to keep her job. But instead she proves just how strong and smart she is when she so cleverly tries to extract her pay from her employer. In addition, because of this incident, it was difficult for me to believe that she could have ever idolized white society, because she seemed to have such contempt, and seemed to view white folks as ignorant, lazy, and superficial people. Another example of how clever she was, is when she discovers how to win the admiration of not only her church members, but also her new white employees. Further, even in her lovemaking, she is in complete control. Pauline is able to subdue her passion, and to delay seeing the colors of her youth, until she is assured that Cholly is powerless to both mentally and physically separate from her. Additionally, Pauline was also capable of nurturing; of calming and comforting a scared crying child, but those feelings she willingly gave to the little white girl, and miserly refused to Pecola.
      When Pauline Williams married Cholly, she became Mrs. Breedlove in name only. She did not breed love; instead she procreated shame, guilt, and ugliness. Although it is true that Cholly's behavior was ugly, and he was dangerously free to gorge his own appetite, I believe that it was Pauline who forced the family to wear their ugliness. Pauline cultivated her child, Pecola, with ridicule and shame, and so she ripened, and felt unworthy. Pauline, more than anyone else, knew Cholly's character, yet she refused to believe, and protect her child from his lustful advances. As a consequence, Pecola turned to Soaphead Church for her protection, and his path led her into insanity. However, Soaphead Church was just her guide, Pecola's road to madness had already been paved the day she was born, by her mother!

A Critical Analysis of Shakespeare’s Hamlet

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Is he an insane madman or a revengeful, scheming, genius? There are many conflicting ideas and theories on this subject, and hopefully this paper may be of some assistance in clearing up the confusion. The paper is divided into three separate analytic sections beginning with the beginning of Hamlet’s so called madness, and why it may have occurred. Next, is an analysis of why Hamlet delays revenging his father’s death. To conclude the paper, Hamlet’s incestuous acts towards his mother are discussed, in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

In the first act Hamlet seems to be in a perfectly sane state of mind throughout all five scenes. It is in the second scene where the audience begins to see a change in his character. Ophelia meets with Polonius and recalls the meeting she had previously with Hamlet. She tells her father that Hamlet came to her disheveled and in a shaken state of mind, speaking of “horrors. ” (Act 2 Scene 2 line 94). Her father immediately believes that he is “Mad for thy love? ” (Act 2 Scene 2 line 95). Opelia answers a question posed by Polonius by which she replied that she had told Hamlet that she could not see or communicate with him any more.

Her father makes reference to Hamlet’s madness once again by proclaiming that what his daughter said, “… hath made him (Hamlet) mad. ” (Act 2 Scene 2 line 123). The argument of whether Hamlet is insane because of his love for Ophelia is often debated, but a more confusing and complex situation is the struggle within Hamlet’s mind. His personal struggle is revealed to the audience in scene one of the third act. In this scene Hamlet recites his famous “To be or not to be- that is the question:” (Act 3 Scene 1 line 64) speech.

Here the the audience truly realizes that Hamlet is torn two ways in his life. To be or not to be, essentially is Hamlet debating on whether he should toil the pains of living in such a harsh world and fight to avenge his father’s murder or take his own life. Hamlet is confused as to whether he should avenge his father’s death when he himself, as Sigmund Freud’s “Oedipus Rex Complex” suggests, wished to murder his father to gain all of his mother’s attention. But, in the back of Hamlet’s mind, which keeps him in constant turmoil, is his loyalty to his family and moreover his father.

Hamlet, in act four scene two, meets with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and he seems to be breaking down into insanity. Hamlet had just killed Polonius, and his two friends were questioning him as to where he placed the body of the dead man. The strange thing about this scene is that Hamlet seems to play with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and does not give them a straight answer. Hamlet has practically transformed into a different person and doesn’t seem to be completely sane. Next is another situation that cannot be totally explained. The situation being Hamlet’s delays in avenging his father’s death.

The first that Hamlet learns of his father’s death is in act one scene five, where he follows the ghost. Hamlet is told, by the ghost, that he (the ghost) is the soul of Hamlet’s father, and that he was murdered by Claudius. This all took place at the beginning of the play and Hamlet waited until the end of the play to get revenge for his father’s murder. Then again there are different perspectives as to whether Hamlet waited until the end to actually gain revenge. For within the play there are many insinuations that Hamlet tortured Claudius all the way up until he killed the king.

Two instances are particularly evident. First, the play within a play confirms that Claudius was the murderer of Hamlet’s father. Hamlet stages the Murder of Gonzago in which the actor who is playing the part of the king is murdered in the same manner that Claudius killed Hamlet’s father. At the moment that the actor playing the part of the king is killed Claudius leaps from his seat and rushes out of the theater infuriated. This violent action by the king overjoys Hamlet for now he knows that it was Claudius who murdered his father.

More than the fact that he knows that Claudius is the murderer, Hamlet is slowly and painfully gaining his revenge of his fathers death. The other instance where Hamlet could have killed Claudius was in act three scene three. In this particular scene Hamlet comes upon Claudius while he is knelt in prayer. Hamlet draws his sword and intends to kill Claudius there in prayer but then decides to wait. Hamlet comes to the conclusion that he should wait until Claudius is commuting a sin so he will go to hell, as opposed to killing him in prayer where he would then go to heaven.

This is another example as to why Hamlet procrastinates revenging his father’s death. The obvious reason Hamlet waits is to bring more than just the pain of his sword to Claudius and torture him until the end. Finally, Hamlet’s sexual attraction towards his mother is to be discussed. In act three scene four, Hamlet enters his mothers bedroom at her wish and first kills Polonius, then proceeds to make love to his mother. This action is called the “Oedipus Rex Complex”, which was invented by Sigmund Freud on the basis of Oedipus the epic poem by Sophocles.

This theory states that all young men wish to destroy their fathers so that their mother’s attention will be guided on them solely. Also the fact that Hamlet thought that Polonius was Claudius adds to the evidence that Hamlet had the “Oedipus Complex”. Hamlet was obsessed with his mother but before the situation in the bedroom escalated his father, the ghost, appeared and reminded him of the plight which he was supposed to be accomplishing. Hamlet’s madness at times is justified and at other times is pure insanity.

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At first Hamlet seems to be going mad over the fact that he is not allowed to see Ophelia. Then it seems that the fact that he is overwhelmed with his father’s death, and begins to fight with himself over the thought of suicide. He is then determined to gain revenge for his father and goes about torturing Claudius in a systematic and genius manner. Finally, Hamlet is caught up in his love for his mother which brings him back to the point of insanity. In conclusion Hamlet is torn between two worlds, that of the sane and well and that of the crazed and insane.

Author: Brandon Johnson

in Hamlet

A Critical Analysis of Shakespeare’s Hamlet

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