Paragon of Animals

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Steerpike, Jul 14, 2008.

  1. Steerpike

    Steerpike Registered Member

    I could have placed this in the philosophy forum, but since the language is poetic, it doesn’t lend itself to that level of analysis.

    “What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
    infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
    admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
    a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals …” - Hamlet Act II, Scene 2

    Discuss to what extent in the positive sense humanity satisfies (or can satisfy) each category (eg. “noble in reason” ) of Shakespeare’s descriptions.

  2. AngelsPeak

    AngelsPeak Wanna play?

    Why does it have to be in the positive sense? You do realize how few members are going to be able to wrap their minds around this post don't you?
    lise likes this.
  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Registered Member

    Members may respond to as many of the attributes Shakespeare lists as they are inclined and able.
  4. Merc

    Merc Certified Shitlord V.I.P. Lifetime

    It's bias because it's written by a human.


    But yeah in seriousness, there are good examples in each category, but could you list exactly what you're looking for?
  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Registered Member

    What examples did you have in mind?
  6. lise

    lise Registered Member

    You mean, whether shakespeare was right or wrong about each of those attributes?

    "What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
    infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
    admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
    a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals..."

    Well, okay. Shakespeare sure does like to embellish on his kind, that's for sure...

    He's basically waffling on about how complex and glorified humans are. And yes, they are...but he's saying how complex they are, but then he's generalizing them all into categories such as noble, admirable etc, when those are all qualities not to be gained- we don't automatically have those instilled in us. If one is complex, they are different from another. Usually, anyway. So he's kind of contradicting himself, if they're all the same.
    Also, if you're just born with being noble and admirable, that's not really admirable in itself, because you can't help it.
    Was the character talking about a particular individual [in the play], or just about humankind in general?
    So, the positivity kind of going out the window there.
    I'll stop waffling on, myself, now.
    Jeanie likes this.
  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Registered Member

    In the play, the character (Hamlet) is actually referring to males (only). But for the purpose of the thread, we're using it to refer to humanity as a whole.

    We are not looking to ask if Shakespeare was right, but rather given humanity at its best (individuals or groups) to what extent those attributes can be filled and how they are manifested.
  8. AngelsPeak

    AngelsPeak Wanna play?

    I think she gave a wonderfully though out answer to your evasive question.
  9. lise

    lise Registered Member

    Thank you, AngelsPeak =] That made me smile.

    And Steerpike; I'm sorry if I misunderstood the intention of the discussion, but that was my interpretation it =]

    Well, obviously mankind can obtain those qualities at their best. Gods were invented by humans [I'm not meaning to offend anyone religious here; that's just my belief], and, in my opinion, humans are more or less incapable of inventing anything that they themselves cannot achieve- they would like to have the qualities which the gods possess, so they write about these wonderful beings, which are basically just extended versions of their glorified selves. Excluding, of course, the magical powers, flying carpet, phoenix kind of qualities ;] So, I think that it's not inconcievable that humans be compared to gods. Same applies to the angels.
    However, saying that humans represent the "beauty of the world" is a little bit...presumptious. A little? It's really presumptious! We, as humans, are equal to every other creature on this earth, and to say that the rest of the world is inferior to our species is kinda...well, yeah, presumptious.

    I think maybe Shakespeare was on a bit of a trip when he wrote that ;]
  10. Merc

    Merc Certified Shitlord V.I.P. Lifetime


    I think Shakespeare was just having a moment of wonder. Nothing else. There are examples of great reason, action and such but they're everywhere. Also, as it is necessary in a universe of balance, there are some truly horrible examples as well.

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