The Interpretive Effects of an Affecting Interpretation

"For there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so" (2.2, 249-250)

From the start of Shakespeare's Hamlet it is clear that much of the action is cerebral. The play never escapes the confines of Hamlet's head. One is never sure if Hamlet's madness is actual or contrived, or if his mother's intentions are adulterous or innocent. This is because Hamlet's interpretation of the events is the dominating voice of the play. He declares that there is no meaning outside of thought "thinking makes it so" because his thoughts and opinions are the only arbiter of "good or bad." The action in Samuel Delany's The Tale of Gorgik is similarly confined to the protagonist's interpretation of his world. Gorgik's narrative involves his struggle to constantly read and interpret the foreign world of court life.

Both Hamlet and Gorgik must rely on their evolving sense of the action surrounding them to navigate social contexts. Their social navigation is analogous to the reader's experience navigating a text. Their interpretive stances of the affect the action of the play just as the reader's interpretation creates the meaning of a text.

A symptom of Gorgik's and...

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