Was Hamlet a Reformer? The Early Modern Absurd. Literary Criticism. Part V.

It might be a mere assumption to deduce Hamlet`s faith from the above quoted utterances and see him as a man, a “character is destiny”  hero who is in search of his Being of his lost Dasein, yet according to the picture he presents to Polonius of himself he is a shattered man, shattered in values, family bonds, where “frailty is woman” there is implicitly stated no woman can exclude frailty neither his mother nor (as he deduces) could Ophelia do so.

What remains is a mere assumption that his faith is still alive, that it is his faith which does not let him pretend false emotions, and also does not let him surrender to a killer.

Hamlet is in seeking. Heidegger puts it trenchantly as follows:

Every inquiry is a seeking [Suchen]. Every seeking gets guided beforehand by what is sought. Inquiry is a cognizant seeking for an entity both with regard to the fact that it is and with regard to its Being as it is. 2 This cognizant seeking can take the form of ‘ investigating’ [„Untersuchen”], in which one lays bare that which the question is about and ascertains its character. Any inquiry, as an inquiry about something, has that which is asked about [sein Gefragtes]. But all inquiry about something is somehow a questioning of something [Anfragen bei … ]. So in addition to what is asked about, an inquiry has that which is interrogated [ein Befragtes]. In investigative questions-that is, in questions which are specifically theoretical-what is asked about is determined and conceptualized. Furthermore, in what is asked about there lies also that which is to be found out by the asking [das Erjragte] ; this is what is really intended:3 with this the inquiry reaches its goal. Inquiry itself is the behaviour of a questioner, and therefore of an entity, and as such has its own character of Being. (Being and Time, p. 24. Trsnl. By. John Macquarrie & Edward Robinson)

Hamlet is in seeking of the truth as well as his own true position and meaning in life, in the court, whereas the entity is the questioner, so Hamlet, who is to be subdued to the negative outcome of this quest. As Heidegger says, every seeking gets guided beforehand by what is sought. The praying king, the double-faced Polonius, the well-mannered Ophelia who reports to his father every instant of Hamlet`s acts all form a surrounding where seeking the improbable transforms into a seeking of the being itself. No truth can be unfolded until the deeper layer of Being is excavated by Hamlet, until Ophelia dies, his heart is in shadow, no real emotions can he produce, only fake emotions which just proclaim his inability to live in accordance with the Sein, the Dasein so Being as Heidegger refers to the notion.

Turning back to the question in Part IV: How could Hamlet grasp his own psyche with the means of phenomenological discourses in his early modern absurd mirror of virtues and values destroyed by the “rottenness” of the “mortal coil” of Denmark?

There is no implicit answer to the above, we might have guesses and interpretations, but no real fundaments.

Abdelkader Aoudjit discusses Terry Eagleton’s take on what comes after postmodernism.

In 1983, Terry Eagleton, previously Professor of English Literature at Oxford University and now Professor of Cultural Theory at the University of Manchester, argued in his highly popular and influential Literary Theory: An Introduction, that no work of literature and no literary theory are genuinely apolitical.

In the same book, Eagleton also warned his readers about what he thinks are ahistorical and ideologically suspicious literary theories such as New Criticism, formalism, (post-)structuralism, psychoanalysis and deconstruction. He wrote that “the great majority of the [above] literary theories outlined in this book have strengthened rather than challenged the assumptions of the power-system.” He called New Criticism “a recipe for political inertia, and thus for submission to the political status quo” – one which allows practitioners not to “oppose McCarthyism or further civil rights,” and he called post-structuralism a convenient way of evading political questions such as Vietnam, Guatemala, and Stalinism.

Eagleton urged his readers to study literature as a cultural phenomenon among other cultural phenomena. Furthermore, he advised them to focus on issues of class, power, ideology and resistance. In short, Eagleton wanted his readers to transcend the confines of literary theory and criticism for the sake of cultural theory whose ultimate goal, for him, is “the production of ‘better people’ through the social transformation of society.” He concluded his book by saying that he wanted “to help the lion to awaken.”

Had Hamlet been confronted with such a theory, he could have had taken decision earlier: either to leave the Court forever with holding Ophelia`s hands, or killing, killing on the spot just as he hears the truth from the ghost. Either ways it would not be such a contemplative drama, if we exclude Hamlet`s true self and faith that makes him stay and seek for proof of the death of his father. Were he not contemplating in most part of the drama, he would be only a character, but this way he reaches the status of a cultural phenomenon, whose “ultimate goal, as Eagleton wishes to put it, is the “production of better people”, he wants to release his mother, and raise Ophelia to maturity.

On page 39 in the translation of Being and Time Heidegger adds an interesting counterpart and analysis to his concept of Being:

We have already intimated that Dasein has a pre-ontological Being as its ontically constitutive state. Dasein is in such a way as to be something which understands something like Being. 1 Keeping this interconnection firmly in mind, we shall show that whenever Dasein tacitly understands and interprets something like Being, it does so with time as its standpoint. Time must be brought to light-and genuinely conceived-as the horizon for all understanding of Being and for any way of interpreting it. In order for us to discern this, time needs to be explicated primordially as the horizon for the understanding of Being, and in terms of temporality as the Being of Dasein, which understands Being. This task as a whole requires that the conception of time thus obtained shall be distinguished from the way in which it is ordinarily understood. This ordinary way of understanding it has become explicit in an interpretation 18 precipitated in the traditional concept of time, which has persisted from Aristotle to Bergson and even later. Here we must make clear that this conception of time and, in general, the ordinary way of understanding it, have sprung from temporality, and we must show how this has come about.

As Being “sprung out of time,” so did Hamlet, who lacks his real time in the course of the drama, both de facto and in spiritual sense. Thus the confusion. He also does not know how to proceed further, and masks himself in the “nighted colors” of depression and madness. This way we get back to outr preliminary question if Hamlet shows his true self to Polonius. No, he simply cannot show his true self to anyone. This ontological jump, is to be perceived as the core of his tragedy. But this idea needs to get aired in another research paper in a more profound way.

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