hamlet: passion vs. reason

December 24, 2016 General Studies

Shakespeare’s Hamlet constantly points out the paradoxical nature of human action when it comes to making rational or emotion-driven decisions. Shakespeare places a huge emphasis on the distinction between making decisions based on reason or passion, and the positive or negative results that both polar ends yield. The characters often act out different degrees of reason and passion, and the consequences of their actions vary from extremely tragic to brilliant and practical. Through an analysis of several important scenes and the actions of the characters involved, Shakespeare’s message about the importance of both reason and passion becomes evident.

From the beginning of Hamlet, the reader is thrust into a world where reason and passion both have to be called into question. Shakespeare introduces the supernatural ghost into the play in the very first scene to cast out any preconceptions of reasonable assumptions. The dialogue between Horatio and Bernardo provides a perfect backdrop for the rest of the play,.

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Bernardo: Is not this something more than fantasy?.

What think you on’t?.

Horatio: Before my own God, I might not this believe.

Without the sensible and true avouch.

Of my own eyes. (1,1 54-58).

Bernardo tends towards a more rational approach, not allowing the folly of the eyes to get to him, however Horatio cannot deny what he has just seen. The reader has to call into question whether to suspend disbelief and accept this fantastic event of supernaturalism, or to remain skeptical about the true existence and nature of the ghost.

Hamlet’s first encounter with the supposed ghost of his father is one strung with torrid emotional responses and a complete lack of rational skepticism. Although Hamlet is not a completely irrational character, the ghost evokes enough emotion to stir Hamlet’s soul and gear him towards murder. With just a story, the ghost manages to bring Hamlet to his full command, as Hamlet claims, .


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