Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Hamlet" Essay (quote analysis)

"To thine own self be true" - Polonius (ACT 1 SCENE 3)

In Act 1, scene 3 of Hamlet, Polonius polishes off his list of advice given to Laertes with the quote "to thine own self be true" which basically sums up the detailed advice. In order to truly understand the significance of this quote within the rest of the play's literary techniques, one must understand the context in which it was spoken. Polonius advises his son how to behave when he embarks on his trip to France, as he recognizes the difference between their homeland and the foreign land. The advice given to his son can also relate to the play as a whole affecting the literary techniques utilized by the author from the tone, theme and characterization to the understanding by inside and outside spectators. The quote also portrays the power of speech as a transformative action to different situations.

As Hamlet steps into the foreign land of crime brought on by the responsibility to avenge his father''s death, he soon realizes it's much more complex than just performing the crime making him second guess his morals and values. He must build up the mental and physical courage to act on the words given to him. Polonius's advice relates to the thoughts Hamlet troubled himself with as he grasped the fact that he had no idea what he was up against and he would have to either stay true to himself or stay true to his father. Throughout the play Hamlet's actions altered from involuntary actions to self-conscious actions as his scheme began to build illustrating Polonius's advise to Laertes to always keep an open ear and closed mouth. The instructions given in the stanza relate to Hamlet's own thoughts of self-contradiction and awareness in the presents of an unfamiliar state.

Each character in the play was identified through their somewhat contradicting actions and words building up the central message of the play. Actions of violence, ignorance and sneakiness all contributed to the fact that no matter what situations took place each character kept their secrets true to themselves and portrayed a different character on the surface. Despite the tried attempts, truths were always revealed whether it was to an audience or one individual shattering the persona portrayed and altering the perspectives of the audience. This brings up the idea that staying true to oneself really means staying true to the outside spectators because in the end true colors are always revealed.

The quote also coneys performative utterances as Polonius's words become actions throughout the play indirectly. Although Polonius was only speaking to Laertes, Shakespeare used the quote to further the audience's understanding of actions played out from King Claudius hiding his crime to Hamlet hiding his scheme and all of the sneakiness of the characters. The transformative speech comes from several characters committing mischievous behavior such as spying, lying and putting others dirty laundry out to dry, but all in all the method behind the madness originated from characters looking after themselves realizing the false truths circling the air.

Polonius's advice turning into action encompassed the whole point of the play; staying true to oneself meant compromising morals for values like Hamlet did by taking on the vengeance of his father's death or other characters deceiving for their own welfare. The quote demonstrated that actions can be louder than words, but words can be more powerful from setting up techniques to attract an audience and aid in the true understanding of the plot and characters to portraying the message hidden within the content.

No comments:

Post a Comment