Friday, March 25, 2016

Introspection and Perspective in Hamlet

During my Shakespeare class today, I thought about what Hamlet assumes he knows at the age of 30, referencing his revelations in the famous "To be or not to be" soliloquy. He lists what death can be boiled down to, while in a state of utter melancholy. I think in similar states of mind, we try to make come up with the same answers to life, and arrive at he same end. Which is sad; we're truly more often introspective when life is throwing us shit. I felt similarly the first time I read Hamlet my senior year of high school. Now that I'm reading it in college, as a much happier person, I noticed within this new perspective and state of mind reading it a juxtaposition that makes me realize the importance of perspective and emotion when approaching such philosophy. Thinking about death, and the course of one's life before death, can give fruit to different interpretations based on ANYTHING the person in question is dealing with in their life at the time. Reading Hamlet, and understanding where the character Hamlet is coming from in his revelation during the soliloquy is important. If the reader is skilled in reading a novel from the perspective of the protagonist, feeling the obstacles with him as he goes through them in the rising action, such a pivotal point would be read in the same state of mind the protagonist is in, and the reader would be less likely to project his own state of mind on the character's introspection. Which may be how fiction is meant to be read. It makes the character that much more dynamic, and is probably how most scholars (and, I'm sure, my professor) are able to read the text. However, I read literature with a much more holistic mind set, and I tend to project my own feelings on the situation. I look at the plot and characters too much as an omniscient viewer, by my own fault. For this reason, I read Hamlet's soliloquy with my own state of mind in class today - which made for a very unique interpretation of the text.

What I projected on the interpretation of the "To be or not to be" excerpt was my realization of Hamlet's age, as well as his state of mind, and I thought of my own ever-changing consciousness and moods, as well as my own naive age. Often I feel I've been through so many obstacles and lows in my life that I know everything I need to know about the necessity of them. But I'm not currently thinking about my life as a person on a low. Unlike Hamlet (who's just found out about his father's death, his mother's hasty remarraige to his uncle, and his uncle's murder of his father).

It's just the same as when a person who is for the first time in their life dealt a shitty hand reflects on all the bad times in his or her life, and stews on that idea until their inner reflections are as deep as Hamlet's own existential crisis.

This downward spiral of thoughts in such a fragile state of mind is the kind of thing that carries people into depression, or even suicide (Hamlet obviously exhibits clinical signs of the former). This is why it's so important for people to notice others who  degrade themselves - or speak only of the negative things to occur to them in their life - and comment instead to them on the positive things that have occurred to them. If nothing but to distract them for a bit from this negative spiral of ideas, at least for a moment they would question how bad they truly have it. And this might just save their life.

I write this post not just as a reminder to those reading of their friends and family who suffer depression, but also a wake up call for the importance as to perspective and state of mind when reflecting on characters' or one's own circumstances.

Think about your feelings right now and take them into account - Not everything is as bad as it seems.

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