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Word Count: 515
What a piece of work is manand yet to me what is this quintessence of dust Hamlet 22 327-332 In this scene from William Shakespeares Hamlet Hamlet is speaking to his old university friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern explaining the sadness that has engulfed him since his fathers death The speech that precedes these lines essentially contains rhetorical ideas and thoughts building an elaborate and elevated picture of the earth and humanity before finally declaring it all merely a quintessence of dust In the selected quotation Hamlet begins by glorifying the creation of man and the earth with sophisticated and regal description He calls men noble and like a god and he mentions the beauty of the world By labeling man a quintessence of dust Hamlet reveals the true depth of his depression and suicidal feelings Hamlets previous statements on the greatness of humanity were spoken with a wry satirical tone Within the hidden meaning of these lines Hamlet expresses his belief that humanity is weak worthless and as ignoble as dust He bounces back and forth between admiration at the nobility and beauty of man and his own disillusionment at how evil man can be His final declaration illustrates Hamlets loss of faith in humanity Hamlet ends his monologue with the question what is this quintessence of dust The question shows that Hamlet is either unsure of the answer or that he only poses the question only to be rhetorical Because of his personal experiences Hamlet has no reason to speak of or understand the greatness of man All he has known is the pathetic side of man Through his uncle his mother and even in himself he sees weakness He sees his uncle as a weak and terrible human being for his deviousness and his act of murder to gain the throne Hamlet finds his mother weak for possibly going along with Claudius plan and most importantly Hamlet sees himself as weak
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