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Re-Imaging Hamlet: Courtier, soldier and scholar.

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Re- Imaging Hamlet Waterford Institute of Technology 11 March 2012 Christa de Brun Re-Imaging Hamlet: Courtier, soldier and scholar. Christa de Brun 2 I am going to focus on Hamlet’s imagery because it is, after all, Hamlet, who creates the most significant images in the play and the best way to understand Hamlet is through his imagery. It is true to say that Hamlet keeps his language within the scope of reality and within the everyday world in contrast to Othello or Lear for example, who use heaven and the elements in their imagery. The images themselves are mostly very real, concrete and precise, familiar things dominate rather than strange or rare objects. They are not always beautiful, poetic and magnificent but they always hit the mark. And I think the imagery is one of the keys to Hamlet; like the five soliloquys in the play which help us gain entrance into Hamlet’s mental being and understand his isolation, the imagery, with the wealth of realistic observations, shows us that Hamlet is not just an abstract thinker and dreamer, rather he is a man gifted with greater powers of observation than the others. He is capable of scanning reality with a keener eye and of penetrating the veil of semblance to the very core of things ‘I know not seems’. Hamlet’s imagery reveals the hero’s wide educational background, his multi-dimensional character and the extraordinary range of his experience. That metaphors taken from natural sciences are especially frequent in Hamlet’s language again emphasises his powers of observation. But Hamlet is also at home in classical antiquity or Greek mythology, in the terminology of law, he is familiar with theatre and with acting, with the fine arts, with falconry and hunting, and the courtier’s way of life. In Ophelia’s words, Hamlet is a ‘courtier, soldier and scholar’, he is the vision of an ideal

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