Hamlet: The Model Human

Harold Bloom asserts that "Our ideas as to what makes the self authentically human owe more to Shakespeare than ought be possible..." (15). If this is true, then the Prince of Denmark himself in Shakespeare's Hamlet is the epitome of humanity in his perceptions of mankind and mankind's unavoidable perversion of nature, and in his representation of the vast uncertainties within the human mind.

Hamlet ponders - or, in Bloom's view, invents - the concept and definition of man; his fundamental impression of the natural being of man is "noble in reason ... in action how/like an angel, in apprehension how like a god..." (II, ii, 327-330) Yet in the same soliloquy, Hamlet exhibits ungrateful discontent with his "express and admirable" (II, ii, 329) fellow men, a contradiction which bears neither noble reason nor godlike apprehension. Shakespeare projects one definition of man through Hamlet's words and another through the man himself. These two ideas, which exist at opposite poles from each other, must be assumed to include all positions in between, for the person who is fully angelic or invariably dissatisfied is rare, if he exits at all. By implying this vague spectrum the gauge of a...

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