Quintessence Of Dust: Hamlet's Remarks On Humanit

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“What piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable; in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god: the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals—and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?” (2.2.327-332). In this passage, a casual reader might interpret Hamlet’s conversation with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as a madman’s remarks and inquiry upon humanity. Yet, in actuality Hamlet argues the observations of society’s perspective of humanity, while recognizing his father’s recent death and how his melancholy disposition asserts that mankind is illogical and insignificant. Hamlet paradoxical remarks also reveal the seemingly contradictory nature of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Thus, Shakespeare addresses the earthly presence of death to challenge man’s existence, while acknowledging the contradictory nature of man. When Hamlet distinguishes the public view of humanity as an invention of perfection, he juxtaposes these glorifications for mankind by emphasizing his gloomy opinion about the subject and therefore illustrates how his father’s murder contributes to his disillusioned, yet paradoxical thinking. Hamlet’s purpose for juxtaposition seems to assist in revealing the concept of man’s contradictory nature. Shakespeare uses such diction as “angel” and “god” to describe society’s perspective on mankind, and contrasts this concept by having Hamlet state that humanity is simply “dust”(2.2.327-331). Hamlet’s juxtaposition of humanity highlights how Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s behavior derive from a contradictory nature. Hamlet addresses Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as he states that “so shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and queen moult no feather” (2.2.316-218). Hamlet’s logical mind realizes the game his two childhood friends are

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