Hamlet: The Power Of Words

Decent Essays
In modern linguistics, a shift from realism, making works that represent the actuality of life, to subjectivism, everything is subjective and there are no definite meanings, has occurred. This linguistic shift influenced numerous works of writing and works of art as well. The move to subjectivism can be clearly seen in both William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Michel Foucault’s Power/Knowledge through each’s discussion on truth, power, and the definitive meanings of words.
In Hamlet by William Shakespeare there are numerous passages that show the power of truth and language and how each of these become subjective. One character who reveals the power that language can have in regards to truth is Lord Polonius. Polonius states that Laertes should
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Foucault expresses his belief that the meanings words hold are subjective to their user. Each person is made up of many different parts that influence who he or she will become, gender, job, religious beliefs, hobbies, etc. To find meaning for words a person takes all the parts of him or herself along with the definitions of words that use “the combined product of an erudite knowledge and a popular knowledge” (Foucault 83) to form their specific definition of a word. For example, a Catholic, heterosexual female would have a different definition for the word marriage than an Atheist, homosexual male. Both William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Michel Foucault’s Power/Knowledge show the linguistic shift that occurred from realism to subjectivism. These works express the move to subjectivism through each’s discussion of the subjectivity of truth, the power of language, the use of language to acquire power, and how definitive meaning of words depend on the people that use them. Through these examples, it is seen that linguistics has changed from trying to represent the truth of life to stating that there is no objective
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