Literature Is the Question Minus the Answer Essays

613 Words May 26th, 2011 3 Pages
Critic Roland Barthes has said, “Literature is the question minus the answer.” Choose a novel or play and, or considering Barthes’ observation, write an essay in which you analyze a central question the work raises and the extent to which it offers any answers. Explain how the author’s treatment of this question affects your understanding of the work as a whole.

Literature, as any other kind of art, is abstract and gives the readers the possibility of applying different meanings and therefore learning new morals. The critic Roland Barthes has wisely said that “Literature is the question minus the answer.” The tragedy Hamlet by William Shakespeare is a perfect example of how a central question is left unanswered thus allowing for various
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He is seen again delaying his revenge due to over thinking when refusing to kill Claudius in a moment of weakness. The prince’s reluctance to murder the praying king and thus sending him directly to heaven is ironic due to the fact that Claudius is unable to confess his sins and ask for God’s forgiveness. The readers once again observe Hamlet’s failure to execute his responsibility due to his overwhelming desire to perform the perfect revenge.

The question of why Hamlet is delaying his action offers many ambiguous interpretations. One of the most reasonable explanations is that he is waiting for the right timing. He may have been planning the murder very precisely so that he doesn't get caught and suffer any consequences. It may be said that Hamlet is a renaissance Prince, and is not a violent person but more of a deep thinker, which may be the reason that delays him from the killing. His obstacle could be his deep and troubled thoughts, thinking and analyzing everything could have lead to the delay of the murder. Shakespeare doesn’t offer the reader a distinctive answer to the central question thus proving Barthes’ idea that literature is often open to different…