How People React to Hard Realities as Described in “Hamlet” and “The Bluest Eye”

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When faced with a horrific yet undeniable truth or action, literary characters respond with unorthodox measures. Tragedies reflect human nature as they focus on tabooed topics such as murder and rape. In Hamlet and The Bluest Eye, characters give the reader an insight to how people react to harsh realities. Analyzing the initial reaction and the ultimate consequences of how Hamlet deals with the murder of his father and how Claudia and Frieda deal with the rape of their friend Pecola, the reader can observe and understand the implications of such responses.

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In Hamlet, after facing the ghost of the late King Hamlet, Prince Hamlet vows to seek vengeance on the man who usurped the throne and wedded his mother. Hamlet acts with hatred and anger, which blind his thoughts and eventually drives him into insanity. Faced with depravity from his uncle, he reacts with evil aims, planning the murder of Claudius. He does not stop even after mistakenly killing Polonius, his love’s father. From the start, Hamlet deals with the murder of his father using his natural instincts and reactions of revenge and hatred. His obsession especially exemplifies the effect of his revenge and hatred on his mentality. Prince Hamlet’s actions show the reader the dark side of human nature, the side that has caused all the wars and all of human suffering. When one side is hurt by another, that side strikes back, hoping to inflict a similar or greater wound. Hamlet’s emotions drive and blind him, fueling his anger until his death. In contrast, hearing of the rape of their friend Pecola, Claudia and Frieda want to help Pecola and pray for her baby to be born safely.” “We’ll bury the money over by her house so we can’t go back and dig it up, and we’ll plant the seeds out back of our house so we can watch over them. And when they come up, we’ll know everything is all right” (Morrison 192). Claudia and Frieda act selflessly unlike their neighbors and respond with positive attitudes. They hope for the best. They could have easily ignored Pecola and made fun of her unfortunate situation just like the other neighbors. Claudia even recognizes the implications of Pecola’s situation on the neighborhood. “All of our waste which we dumped on her and which she absorbed… We were so beautiful when we stood astride her ugliness… Her poverty kept us generous” (Morrison 205). Claudia and Frieda’s actions reflect upon the reader a more gentler side, one that has raised civilizations and ameliorated the sufferings of those less unfortunate. Claudia and Frieda choose to react with warmth and friendliness, giving up their money to buy a bicycle and praying for Pecola’s baby. From analyzing both books, the reader is faced with two alternatives that result from difficult situations or realities: act with hatred or with love.

No matter what the initial reactions of these characters are, they ultimately lead to unforeseen endings that befall tragedy to those involved. Prince Hamlet, upon fulfilling his vengeance, dies, bringing down the throne of Denmark with the whole royal family lying dead. Since Claudius, Hamlet, and Gertrude are dead, Prince Fortinbras easily takes power over the kingdom. Even Ophelia, Hamlet’s love, takes her life after Hamlet murders her father. At the cost of the kingdom and his love, Hamlet fulfills the wish of his father. There was never a happy ending for Prince Hamlet, only the chance to avenge his father’s death and restore honor back to the throne of Denmark. He brought tragedy to all those around him, blinded by his passion to kill Claudius and satisfy his hatred. He fought “fire with fire,” believing that death was the only answer for both Claudius and himself. Hamlet’s apparent insanity was the foreshadowing that brought upon this calamity. Similar in such a tragedy, Pecola turns insane, spending “her days, her tendril, sap-green days, walking up and down, up and down, her head jerking to the beat of a drummer so distant only she could hear” (Morrison 204). Claudia and Frieda’s initial actions of burying marigold seeds and praying for the best end up being for nothing. No matter what Claudia and Frieda did, Pecola would have still turned mad and lost her baby. The neighborhood would have still used Pecola as a scapegoat to make themselves feel better. Pecola could never had a happy ending, only the illusion that she had blue eyes and looked pretty. Both books remind the reader that intentions are irrelevant when the situation is so dire; tragedies cannot be avoided when reality is so harsh. There is no happy or even a just ending when evil drives either the cause or the solution of the unjust reality.

Although the response of Hamlet to his father’s murder and that of Claudia and Frieda to their friend’s rape drastically differ, they both inadvertently end unsuccessfully. Hamlet only avenges his father at the cost of his kingdom and life. Claudia and Frieda ultimately waste their marigold seeds and become helpless as Pecola goes mad and her father dies. However, it should be noted that Hamlet’s intentions are evil. He knowingly endangers the head of the kingdom and his lineage for the sake of “setting things right” in his mind. His obsession drives him to madness. In contrast, Claudia and Frieda have just and virtuous intentions in planting their marigold seeds and hoping for the best for Pecola. However, both novels end tragically for all sides, no matter how the characters strived to prevent the downfall of those around them. “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

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How People React to Hard Realities as Described in "Hamlet" and "The Bluest Eye". (2022, Dec 07). Retrieved February 3, 2023 , from
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