Intolerance of Ignorance

    No matter the circumstance, individuals will always create ideals. They will always attempt to imagine how to improve their world and how things could be better. Ideals are the result of one’s desires as it takes all an individual has ever wanted and paints a magnificent picture that often doesn’t have any tie to reality. One’s imagination allows their ideals to take off and they drift into the clouds where they linger completely unreachable and unable to be reclaimed. When an individual’s falsely idealized expectations are not met, one’s ideal will be shattered and one will be left unable to retaliate. In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the hero’s mother, Queen Gertrude is a character who is forced to realize the reality of her situation and the conflict within her family. Shakespeare uses his play,Hamlet, in order to portray the idea that when an ignorant individual is forced to face the reality of previous dishonourable actions, her disillusionment and subsequent guilt will drive her to take action in order to reclaim her lost honour.

    At the start of the play, the Queen is a symbol of the dishonour within the kingdom of Denmark. Following her husband’s death, the queen has had a rather hasty marriage with his brother. Her lack of respect for the significance of death of a loved one and her audacity to immediately elope with the brother represents her dishonourable nature and tarnishes the reputation of the kingdom. However, the Gertrude, the queen, fails to recognize the reality of her situation. Rather than viewing her actions as dishonourable, she thinks nothing of it and falsely believes that all is progressing normally. She ignorantly views her situation in an optimistic manner believing that her son, Hamlet, and his recent melancholic tendencies are simply a result of his deep attachment to his dead father and that he will grow better with time. She views her marriage with Claudius, the brother, as an act that has reunited the kingdom and is content with her circumstances. However, Hamlet’s appearance into her bedroom forces her to face the reality. She is unable to grasp the source of Hamlet’s anger and rude behaviour and does not understand the dishonour with which he views her with. He shatters her illusion of the normal family that she had created by killing Polonius. Gertrude is forced to “turn [her] eyes into by very soul” where she is able to “see such black and grained spots”. She recognizes reality and is guilted by her ignorant actions as she is able to see the stains of dishonour and shame on her character. While the Queen is initially dissatisfied with the loss of her illusion as she claims how Hamlet “hast cleft [her] heart in twain”, she is able to face reality and move on an ultimately seeks to redeem herself as she heeds Hamlet’s demands to cease her elope with Claudius and “assume[s] a virtue.”

    In my life, disillusionment has come to me as I matured. I began to see expectations from others evolve as they became for intolerant of my childhood innocence and desired to see more from me. Things that could once have been brushed off and affiliated with the innocence of a child has instead become actions that I must not take. My dishonourable actions came forth in the form of embarrassing stories. Tales of entering the incorrect washrooms, insulting those who were different, or even making unreasonable demands of others and forcing them to comply. However, unlike Gertrude in Hamlet, there were never any consequences for my ignorance as a child. Rather, my lack of knowledge allowed my actions to be tolerated. While there was a sense a shame associated with every tale, I never felt any real passionate desire to take action and right the wrongs of my childhood. As I slowly began to realize the reality hidden behind my illusion, I simply tore down the illusion and took on reality fully knowing that I was protected by the idea of a child’s innocence. I was able to accept reality due to the fact that the illusion was made by a child and suffered no consequence for my wrongs.

    Disillusionment is the act of facing reality in favour of illusions. In Hamlet, Queen Gertrude was forced to disillusion herself and her guilt and shame forced her to face the consequences of her actions in the form of Hamlet’s attack on her. She was ultimately left broken but was able to reclaim herself by restoring her own honour when she decided to aid Hamlet in his cause. When faced with reality, an individual’s illusion will often be revealed. However, through this disillusionment, the individual will be able to endure the repercussions of their previous ignorance and ultimately move on.

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One thought on “Intolerance of Ignorance

  1. Vincent,

    The idea that you presented is so unique and both creative and analytical. You did a very good job analyzing the play Hamlet but what spoke to me more was your own experiences. The line that really stood out was “Things that could once have been brushed off and affiliated with the innocence of a child has instead become actions that I must not take”. I felt myself able to relate to this very much. When I was younger there were many things I could get away with by the mere fact that I was young and “didn’t know any better”. A harsh reality I had to face was that I was becoming an adult and I had to not only not make stupid decisions, but I had to own up to them. It is a very interesting idea that as we grow older we realize how foolish and ignorant we once were.

    Perhaps to make this even better you should have tried to tie together your life with Queen. It would have allowed for more fluidity in your structure. None the less this was excellent and I enjoyed reading it.

    I hope to get to know you even better next year in University.


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