in thy orisons/ Be all my sins rememb’red

Hamlet has resonated with me more and more as I grow older because I think of him as paralyzed by thinking too much. It seems to me that is something that becomes more of an obstacle as one grows older and acquires more knowledge. Harold Bloom argued that it's not that Hamlet thinks too much, it's that he thinks too well. He may be right--I haven't done any careful reading to assess his viewpoint, and I certainly have not thought about the play as much as Bloom--but I don't find his interpretation nearly as compelling. Which is counterintuitive; surely it be more comforting to think that I don't act because I'm such a profound and incisive thinker. But it is much more satisfying to identify with a tragic figure than with a hero. I can't tell you why, but there is plenty of evidence. The best-loved characters in literature always have flaws. Maybe it's what makes them seem human. You can't identify with a god. That's what Jesus is for. He's human; he doubts. It's funny though, that most of us tend to spend a lot of time trying to convince other people that we don't have any flaws, as if no one will love us if they know we're not perfect. (That's not just me, right?)

1 comment:

Erin Davis said...

Your post has really resonated with me today. As an English teacher, I love Shakespeare but have had my moments of loathing Hamlet. I think perhaps it's because I see too much of myself in him. I enjoy the flaws of Othello and MacBeth because they are farther from my own!