Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Passion's Triumph over ReasonA History of the Moral Imagination from Spenser to Rochester$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Christopher Tilmouth

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199212378

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199212378.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 01 December 2020

Hamlet ‘Lapsed in Passion’

Hamlet ‘Lapsed in Passion’

(p.75) 3 Hamlet ‘Lapsed in Passion’
Passion's Triumph over Reason

Christopher Tilmouth (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses two aspects of Hamlet damaging to Elizabethan moral assumptions. First, Hamlet strives to imitate the fury of Senecan heroes, i.e., to invoke an overwhelming passion in himself, because without that impulse he is incapable of acting. (The Elizabethan rationalist's passionless state has this drawback, that it deprives man of the inward force needed to motivate actions.) In practice, though, Hamlet can only imitate such passion, not feel the real thing. Lacking genuine outrage, he embraces self-delusions instead, pretending that he is working purposefully towards vengeance or is furious when actually he is not. Second, this same Hamlet is passionate in his revulsion against the flesh. His obsession with bringing moral reformation to Denmark, a quality which makes him reminiscent of earlier moralists, is heartfelt, but drives him into such frenzied conduct towards Gertrude that Hamlet thereby brings the probity of all such moral asceticism into question.

Keywords:   fury, Senecan hero, self-delusion, the flesh, asceticism, moral reformation

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .