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TOPIC: Hamlet's "bad dream" before Act II

Hamlet's "bad dream" before Act II 5 years 6 months ago #2351

BamaFlum wrote:
sorensonian wrote:
Soothsayer wrote:
8. Mr. Jordan claims that Hamlet has nightmares. Yes, Hamlet mentions bad dreams, but this does not mean they were nightmares. In fact, bad dreams were a symptom of the melancholic.

Yep, that's it exactly. These bad dreams do not refer to anything specific, but relate to Hamlet's humour.

That is how I interpret it. It would be normal for Hamlet to have "bad dreams" after everything he has been through the past two months.
Haha, my interpretation is different from everyone's. Granting that they might be expected from his melancholy, I thought bad dreams were here referring to his too broad ambition, re: R & G's earlier remarks:
Ham.  Denmark's a prison. 
Ros.  Then is the world one.
Ham.  A goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o'th' worst.
Ros.  We think not so, my lord.
Ham.  Why, then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.
Ros.  Why, then your ambition makes it one: 'tis too narrow for your mind.
Ham.  O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space--were it not that I have bad dreams.
Gui.  Which dreams indeed are ambition; for the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.
It sounds to me that Rosencrantz tries to challenge Hamlet's perspective by suggesting that, rather than Denmark being confining relative to the rest of the world, Denmark is confining relative to Hamlet's ambition. Hamlet mocks this suggestion by caricaturing it or logically extending it: Even if Hamlet were confined in a nutshell, which implies obvious real physical limitations for a human, his only reason for complaint, or the only valid problem, would be his own desire for something more.

Guildenstern's following "indeed" seems to confirm this reading.

And at any rate, as I read it, these dreams are only hypothetical. Hamlet is not admitting to having bad dreams; he's just having an argument with his "friends".
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Re: Hamlet's "bad dream" before Act II 3 years 7 months ago #5175

The "bad dreams" are ambition:

O God, I could be bounded in a nut shell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.
Which dreams indeed are AMBITION

....To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what DREAMS may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause:

Hamlet is contemplating an attempt to kill the King - which would probably be suicidal. He is questioning his own motives for wanting to kill the King. Would he, like his warlike father and his devious uncle, be killing out of ambition to gain land? If so, his afterlife would be Hell.

As for Hamlet (Regained), it is not mainstream opinion (neither is my own website). However, it is worth reading because the author has expended much time and thought in close study of the play. Although I believe he is wrong about a lot of things, I also believe that he has some insights not to be found elsewhere.
Last Edit: 3 years 7 months ago by Ray Eston Smith Jr.
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Re: Hamlet's "bad dream" before Act II 3 years 7 months ago #5176

I agree with honestrosewater that the dreams are ambition, but I disagree that "I could be bounded in a nut shell" is sarcasm. Hamlet, when he was true to himself, when he was not from himself taken away was not ambitious - he just wanted to return to Wittenberg. But he had partially erased himself from his memory and written his ambitious father there - that was the source of his bad dreams of ambition.
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