The Ear and Eye Motif in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

796 Words4 Pages
Listening and observing come naturally to most of us. Most people don’t think well to confirm something I heard I must see it or vise versa. That is the problem characters in Hamlet run into when trying reason out the issues they have. The ear and eye motif in Hamlet by William Shakespeare make up a prominent part in the play. Hamlet suggests that the information received by the ear or eye alone can lead to unwanted outcomes (Anderson). The simultaneous use of the ear and the eye must exist for the success of reason because alone they don't provide sufficient information for Hamlet, Gertrude and the people of Denmark.
Hamlet encounters several problems when only relying on either the eye or ear alone. When he hears a noise behind a curtain
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Nevertheless, the characters only used their eyes to conclude that Hamlet was mad. No one ever actually talked to him about his madness specifically. The shock of these scenes and double use of the ear and eye motif illustrate that alone, the ear and eye provide nothing but unessential information.
In addition, Gertrude goes through a moment where she is figuratively blind when making a judgment. When Hamlet told her about how King Hamlet was killed she didn’t believe it. He says she has been blind this whole time to it and even though Claudius appears innocent he is not. Gertrude married soon after King Hamlet’s death because her love and loneliness blinded her. This led to her to make incestuous actions. Hamlet is annoyed with his mother and how naive she is to his father’s death:
…What devil was ’t
That thus hath cozened you at hoodman-blind?
Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight,
Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all,
Or but a sickly part of one true sense
Could not so mope. (III.iv.79-84)
The people of Denmark had similar issues as Hamlet and Gertrude. The people trusted their King by listening to what he said but never saw what he did besides being a King. With his smile seen only by the eye, he portrays to be an innocent King (Fabiny). Like Hamlet said "...one may smile and smile and be a villain" (I.v.115). During this soliloquy, Hamlet says that although one is a villain, one can smile and it will be covered up on the
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