Hidden Agendas in Hamlet and Earnest Few Essay

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Hidden Agendas in Hamlet and Earnest

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Few plays are more dissimilar than William Shakespeare's Hamlet and Oscar Wilde's the Importance of Being Earnest. The first, considered by many to be the greatest work of the English language -- and perhaps any language -- is very tragic, full of familial and political intrigue, long introspective speeches on the nature of doubt and action, and ending in a series of violent and seemingly unnecessary (in many instances) deaths. The Importance of Being Earnest, however, is a completely light-hearted and farcical comedy of manners, in which almost nothing of great import happens, and which contains none of the platitudes or socially important messages apparent in Hamlet. In no way does this diminish from the quality of the play -- and it can certainly add to a reader's or audience member's enjoyment of it -- but it does set it apart as the work of a very different type of genius, and is clearly a very different kind of play. Yet despite the radical differences between Hamlet and the Importance of Being Earnest, there is one central moral issue central to both plays -- the main characters all have hidden agendas. From the very beginning of the play, Hamlet is intent on proving that his uncle murdered his father, and hides his thoughts and feelings many times so as not to warn Claudius of his suspicions. The plot of the Importance of Being Earnest is much more light hearted, but both Jack and Algernon pretend to be other imaginary people in order to woo the women that thy ostensibly love. All three characters use lies and deception to further their own means with largely successful results, at least insofar as the deception itself is concerned, making the hidden agenda a positive point in both Hamlet and the Importance of Being Earnest.

Essay on Hidden Agendas in Hamlet and Earnest Few Assignment

The hidden agendas show up the very first time we meet each of the characters that have them. Hamlet's very first line is an aside referring to his uncle as "a little more than kin, and less than kind," while in his second line he addresses Claudius simply and respectfully as "my lord" (Shakespeare, 1599). The first two lines that the character speaks in the play reveal his secret suspicions of Claudius. At this point, however, Claudius and Hamlet's mother Gertrude are more concerned with the ongoing mourning Hamlet displays for his father's death than they are with any of is other motives. His deception is working, and they are more concerned with his outer appearance than his inner workings. The first scene of Earnest reveals both Jack and Algernon's secret agendas also. After getting Jack to admit that his name isn't really Ernest, Algernon says, "I may mention that I have always suspected you of being a confirmed and secret Bunburyist; and I am quite sure of it now" (Wilde, 1895). Algernon goes on to explain how he made up a sick friend named Bunbury whom he can use as an excuse to go gallivanting around the countryside, just as Jack has invented a younger brother named Ernest whose constant troubles "force" him into the city on a regular basis. Here, the quick openness of their respective hidden agendas adds to their enjoyment, whereas Hamlet's continued secrecy adds to his despair. All three… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"Hidden Agendas in Hamlet and Earnest Few."  Essaytown.com.  February 11, 2009.  Accessed July 13, 2020.