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November 19, 2017

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Hamlet.  William Shakespeare’s most famous play has been regarded for centuries as the most complex psychological portrait of a tragic hero ever written for the theatre. Hamlet endures because he is the most exquisite poetic expression of an enlightened human being capable of engaging in a cultivated rhetorical display of philosophical reasoning. However, the memorable attribute that distinguishes Hamlet, as a character, from the many other protagonists in the Bard’s celebrated dramatic canon is his uncanny ability to discern, hesitate, even equivocate, before committing to a clarified retributive action. His interior debate on what is just is grounded by his scrupulous need to prove the commission of the crime in order to deliver the correct punishment. His best intentions at problem solving devolve into a disquieting meditation on vengeance. We are left with one lingering question: What is the existential value of the individual in society? Hamlet sets his own moral compass as a guide to determine what is the just and decisive ethical action within a time-honored philosophical framework. As he delves below the challenges calculated by corruption, Shakespeare does not offer a solution or easy answers, but engages our deepest sensibilities in a dimensional inquiry of what it means to be a human being amidst the swirling chaos of political and social change. The conflict in the play illuminates our shared human struggle to prevail against all crisis, especially the most deceitful, with care, equity, humility, and mindfulness. Hamlet engages our unique senses and enlivens our collective soul to consider the ultimate quest and goal of humanity: Personhood. Given the socio-political moment we find ourselves living in — reflecting upon Hamlet’s philosophical discourse is time well spent.


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