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Hamlet and Counter-Humanism

Ronald Knowles
Renaissance Quarterly
Vol. 52, No. 4 (Winter, 1999), pp. 1046-1069
DOI: 10.2307/2901835
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2901835
Page Count: 24
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Hamlet and Counter-Humanism
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Abstract

This essay interprets the question of subjectivity in Hamlet by reappraising Renaissance skepticism and by reexamining the medieval debate concerning the misery of man's existence, and the Renaissance celebration of man. A central concern is the significance of the commonplace in humanist rhetoric and dialectic, by which Stoic and Christian thought depreciates passion. In his anguish Hamlet discovers a unique subjectivity as he attempts to reject the wisdom of tradition. But the nature of thought cannot be separated from the nature of the mind that thinks, and Hamlet's selfhood capitulates to the role.

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