Too Sullied Flesh

O, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew,
Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
His canon ‘gainst self slaughter! O God, God,
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on ‘t, ah fie! ‘Tis an unweeded garden
That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this:
But two months dead–nay not so much, not two.
So excellent a king, that was to this
Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother
That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth,
Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on. And yet, within a month
(Let me not think on ‘t; frailty, thy name is woman!),
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
With which she followed my poor father’s body,
Like Niobe, all tears–why she, even she
(O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason
Would have mourned longer!), married with my
uncle,
My father’s brother, but no more like my father
Than I to Hercules. Within a month,
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,
She married. O, most wicked speed, to post
with such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
It is not, nor it cannot come to good.
But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.
Prompt: In a well-written essay, analyze Hamlet’s relationship with his mother and how this reflects his attitude toward women as a whole, taking into account analogy, diction, and tone.
Thesis: While Hamlet is indignant toward his uncle, Shakespeare employs Hamlet’s degrading vexation for his mother to not only reveal his misogyny, but also criticize conditions of love in Elizabethan society.
In the progression of his grief, Hamlet condemns his mother for the brevity of her own grieving period and the rapid zeal with which she remarried after her husband’s death. He goes so far as to dehumanize her, comparing her to “a beast that wants discourse of reason” and portraying the beast in a more positive light than her. This demeaning analogy illuminates Hamlet’s strong resentment of his mother’s actions and his frustration over what he perceives to be her lack of reason and respect. However, the degrading nature of such a comparison more deeply portrays Hamlet’s disrespect for his mother, even though she should be an authority to him. His condemnation continues in his characterization of her actions: the “most wicked speed” with which she committed herself to his uncle. Hamlet’s malevolent diction in referring to the queen solidifies his perception that his mother is shameful. This indignant perception further exemplifies his predisposed disrespect toward women and the sense of superiority he feels over them.

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