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Beyond the Ordinary Bloody Hell Drama

Beyond all human endeavors to attain their highest human potential; be it during grief, war, abundance, injustice, among others, is the rule that no matter what, “ always do the right thing. ” In this particular paper, I have chosen William Shakespeare’s work “Hamlet, Prince of Denmark “as well as Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” as the two main plays for my essay. I have a particular interest in these two plays by two different authors, because the two radiates social and moral themes, which I think is more interesting.

“Hamlet” for example, conveys the message of revenge as evil and could result to unintended consequences. “The Importance of being Earnest” posits an emphasis on the importance of being Earnest (since this was paramount during the Victorian era), which I would later on mention in my succeeding discussions. However, I have chosen the two plays because of its contrasting theme-satire vs. tragedy. I was particularly interested in the way the two plays (in different themes) could stir up moral-social values and messages. ‘Hamlet” is a story of oozing portrayal for vengeance (Shakespeare as cited in The Literature Network, 2000).

Hamlet accidentally killed Polonius, after he thought that it was Claudius (the new King of Denmark). He intended to avenge the death of his father on Claudius. However, after the accidental killing of Polonius, Ophelia (the daughter of the latter who loved Hamlet despite the hatred she felt for him) and Laertes (son of Polonius, brother of Ophelia), were especially furious on him and planned to kill him to avenge the death of their father. It was the latter who carried on the plan since Ophelia was prevented by her love for Hamlet.

On the course of their pursuit for revenge, all Hamlet and Laertes gain was the unintended consequence of their actions. The first accidentally killed Polonius instead of the king, as cited by Shakespeare (n. d): Hamlet: “How now? A rat? [draws] “Dead for a ducat, dead”! Polonius: [Behind the Arras] “O, I am slain”! [Fall and Dies]. (p. 150) Laertes, on the other hand, instead of killing Hamlet, was killed by his own sword as mentioned by Shakespeare (n. d): Laertes Why, as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osric; I am justly kill’d with mine own treachery. (p.

246) The message however of the play conveys that, revenge is not always the right thing to do, no matter how badly you’ve been hurt by someone. This is conveyed in the play of Shakespeare (n. d), when Laertes spoke to Hamlet: It is here, Hamlet: Hamlet, thou art slain; No medicine in the world can do thee good; (p. 247) On the other hand “The Importance of Being Earnest” portrayed the story of two characters (Jack and Algernon) that had employ deception for their convenience; Jack using the name Ernest and Algernon having an imaginary friend named Bunburry.

The two employed deception to attain their ends (for Jack to be engaged to Gwendolyn and Algernon used Bunburry as an excuse to leave the country). Later on, Algernon also made-up a story that he was Ernest, to propose to Cecily. It was found out later on in the story that smoke has its way of escaping; the deception did not last long, it was soon discovered by the girls including Lady Bracknell (Gwendolen’s mother) that Ernest was just an imaginary person whose name was used by two persons (The Importance of Being Earnest, 2000).

To cover all these mistakes, the two men were told to do the right thing to redeem themselves from the wrath of their fiancees. The two plays had some common grounds. Firstly, both plays were guilty of committing the “law of unintended consequence” of their actions. Hamlet is a story about revenge, but people who seek revenge for the death of their loved ones (Hamlet and Laertes), were not prepared for the unintended consequence of their actions. As the tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark it says: “A villain killed my father…I his sole son, would do the same villain…” (Shakespeare as cited in etext.

library, n. d). However, it was not anticipated by Hamlet that the man he killed was not the King. Clearly, Hamlet had mistaken Polonius as King Claudius. Moreover, when Laertes avenges the death of his father, his own sword killed him. The result of their plans was different since they were not familiar with the possible consequences of their actions, because experience wise, they’re not raised to slay somebody out of hatred and vengeance. As was mentioned previously, Jack and Algernon also did not expect the law of unintended consequences of their deception.

It had evoked a lot of fantasies from the women, and led to conflict when both women assumed that they were both engaged to the same man named Ernest. One of the lines in The Importance of Being Ernest (2000) showed this conflict: Gwendolen. [Quite politely, rising. ] My darling Cecily, I think there must be some slight error. Mr. Ernest Worthing is engaged to me. The announcement will appear in the Morning Post on Saturday at the latest. Cecily. [Very politely, rising. ] I am afraid you must be under some misconception. Ernest proposed to me exactly ten minutes ago.

[Shows diary. ] (p. 43) A “civilized war” in which flaring emotions were dealt not through aggression, but tensions over words and manners exist between Cecily and Gwendolen when they unmistakably thought that they were engaged to the same man named Earnest. The next comparative point for the play is the emphasis on doing the “right thing. ” If King Claudius respected the life of the former King, Hamlet would not have thought of revenge, same as Polonius. However, they neglect to pay respect to the lives of these people, hence, one mistake leads to another.

Vengeance could not be the right thing to do; since social laws are present (this is the function of law in every society-to ensure harmony and control towards equilibrium). This was written in act 1 scene five: Another part of the platform in the play of Shakespeare (n. d): Ghost: A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark Is by a forged process of my death Rankly abused: but know, thou noble youth, the serpent that did sting thy father’s life Now wears his crown. Hamlet: O my prophetic soul! My uncle! (p. 55) The ghost who was Hamlet’s father requested revenge for his unnatural death from his son-Hamlet in Shakespeare (n.

d): Ghost: “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” (p. 55) The other play (…Being Earnest) was in fact clear about choosing the “right thing” to do. First, being morally right is the “right thing” to do. Take for example the line of Algernon after his conversation with Lane. The first stated in the in The Importance of Being Earnest (2000) that: “what use the lower class would be if they don’t set good example; when they are in fact a class to have no sense of moral responsibility” (p. 14) Gwendolyn believes that style, not sincerity is more important (The Importance of Being Earnest, 2000).

This was depicted in the story when the Gwendolen and Cecily, instead of pouring out their hatred and contempt to each other, chose to have a “civilized war” because it is the “right” thing to do-impression management is more important than sincerity. Respect was also of significance in Hamlet. The play conveyed that whatever wrong a person has caused on you, it is still wrong for you to wish for his death, much more kill him. Killing someone had never been right, much more, seeking vengeance and putting the role of law on your own hands as what Hamlet and Laertes did.

The third point of comparison for the two plays is their similarity in portraying conflict. Conflict usually occurs over the competition of highly valuable scarce resources. While Hamlet was a tragic play, it evoked conflicting interest between King Claudius and Hamlet’s father. Shakespeare (n. d) illustrated this scene through the following lines: Ghost: A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark Is by a forged process of my death Rankly abused: but know, thou noble youth, The serpent that did sting thy father’s life Now wears his crown (p. 14) The two were in conflict over the reign of the thrown in Denmark.

It should be noted that conflict would either result to a positive or a negative consequence. Take for instance the case of King Claudius and Hamlet’s father; their conflicting interests enable King Claudius to kill his brother to take over to his thrown as the King of Denmark. On the other hand, The Importance of Being Earnest posits a deeper conflict between classes. In the way upper classes looked at marriage, wealth and the importance of superficial personalities to retain their pleasant status. Despite any wrong done, upper classes have their ways of doing the “right” thing, which they themselves have imposed.

Lady Bracknell touches on the issue when she states, that: “pleasant or not, an engagement should be given to a girl through a surprise” (The Importance of Being Earnest, 2000: p. 43). Upper class has a standard way of looking at marriage-in fact they looked at it as a business transaction. Hence, marriage for the upper class is a way of showing social position, character and “taste” for marriage. This was however seen in the words of Gwendolen when she said sugar is being out of fashion and cake is not in best houses where it used to be seen (The Importance of Being Earnest, 2000).

Cecily put sugar and cake on Gwendolen’s plate as otherwise requested by the latter. The two girls were actually insulting each other, but chose to do it in a more subtle and superficial way; that nobody could hint they were relatively furious with each other. Always doing the right thing is the best way to deal with hatred, happiness, and conflict, and extreme emotions. I have proved this right when Hamlet chose to revenge the death of his father instead of trusting the law of society to punish King Claudius.

His revenge leads one way to another when other person was being killed, living the latter’s family in grief and the son to be also planning for revenge. On the other hand, I had also proved that doing the right thing is the best way to settle misunderstandings and feud. In Being Earnest, deception was used at first, and it was soon found out that it could create great complication; not only, people doing the deception gets into trouble but also the people in whom they had applied their deception as in the case of Gwendolen, Cecily and Lady Bracknell.

Also, doing the right thing could be the best way to avoid negative consequences of conflict (e. g following the rule of transition to the throne in the case of Hamlet). Above all things, the two plays were great, since, errors were recognized and even if the right thing to do was not done immediately, the characters came into their senses and recognized that what they have done might be corrected. With the right attitude towards things as well as with the values that guide human character, one might not go wrong if s/he just lived with these and chose to always do what is “right” for everybody.

“Hamlet” is indeed a great play, depicting many facets of the test of character amid hatred and betrayal. In the Importance of being Earnest, it was personal volition to use deception, but in the end, the choice to be “right” for the sake of harmony prevailed.


Hamlet. (2004). TeachWithMovies. com, Retrieved, January 20, 2008, from http://www. teachwithmovies. org/samples/hamlet. html The Importance of Being Earnest. (2000). CliffsNotes. com.Retrieved, January 20, 2008, from http://www. cliffsnotes. com/WileyCDA/LitNote/The-Importance-of-Being-Earnest. id-29,pageNum-31. html (IMPORTANT) The Literature Network. (2000). Hamlet. Retrieved, January 28, 2008, from http://www. online-literature. com/shakespeare/hamlet/2/ The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. (nd). Shakespeare homepage. Retrieved, January 21, 2008, from http://etext. library. adelaide. edu. au/mirror/classics. mit. edu/Shakespeare/hamlet/full. html

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