Hamlet And A Raisin In The Sun
Both «A Raisin in the Sun» and «Hamlet» share one aspect of their plays in common: main protagonists with dead fathers and being in a conflicted relationship with their mothers. Without this particular part, the entire story will not make a sense to the main point of each play. Therefore, this paper argues that although these plays reflect different issues and set in different periods of time, the entire story is structured around the conflicts of each character with their mothers. «Hamlet» is considered as one of the complicated plays in the world and we know very little about Hamlet’s mother in analyzing this quarrel. Hamlet is featured as a teenager who mourns his father and gets disappointed about the remarriage of his mother with his uncle – Claudius.
Throughout the story, he despises his mother for this marriage and the reason behind this friction is that Gertrude, instead of sharing Hamlet’s grief, preferred wedding dresses to mourning ones within a month after her husband’s death. Obviously, for Hamlet, his father was a real model to him and a loving husband to his mother. This is clearly seen when he reminisces his father, «So excellent a king; that was, to this, Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother» (Shakespeare 1313). Therefore, Hamlet despises both Gertrude and Claudius for betraying King Hamlet’s honor.
Later, he comments on the intention of the marriage as an act against God’s will since Hamlet criticizes this marriage for its incestuous values. He clarifies his position later when Hamlet before heading to England states, «My mother: father and mother is man and wife; man and wife is one flesh; and so, my mother» (Shakespeare 1368). The word «flesh» in this context has a strong meaning in expressing his disgust with regards to his uncle. Moreover, at a very close analysis, it is obvious that Gertrude is depicted as the type of woman who is mainly concerned with her personal life rather than with her dead husband’s honor. Shakespeare doesn’t state it directly, but states it with implications through Hamlet’s words: «Heaven and earth! Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him, as if increase of appetite had grown by what it fed on: and yet, within a month» (1313).
The author uses the word «appetite» in order to stress Gertrude’s sexual passion and Hamlet has noted it even when King Hamlet was alive. According to his own assumptions, Gertrude gives up her mourning clothes in order to satisfy her appetite. However, in spite of this, he still loves and respects his mother and attempts not to hurt her while taking revenge for his father’s death. Although Gertrude betrays her dead husband, she stays loyal for his lovely son when the latter kills Polonius. From this relationship, it is clear that their conflict is insignificant when it comes to the relationship between mother and son. At the final scene, when Gertrude tells Hamlet to make peace with Laertes, Hamlet replies, «She well instructs me» (Shakespeare 1392).
What Shakespeare implies is that she could be portrayed as not a loyal wife, but as a loving mother. She wishes Hamlet to be a good-natured person and Hamlet clearly sees it. When it comes to «A Raisin in the Sun», the play features the life of one Afro-American family with a dead father. Walter Lee Younger is the main protagonist who is in a conflicted relationship with his mother – Lena Younger. Since the death of her husband, Lena becomes a master of the family and she has a dream of purchasing a new house for his husband’s insurance money. While Walter Lee is featured as an ambitious member of the family who tries to achieve freedom in terms of money by investing in the liquor store. Therefore, the financial aspect of the family is the main struggle between these two characters. Before analyzing the conflicted relationship it is better to take the setting of the house into consideration as it plays a key role in this play. Hansberry on the account of the house states, «All pretenses but living itself have long since vanished from the very atmosphere of this room» (26).
When Lena Younger with her husband moved into this house, they attempted to stay here for only a year. Now, it has been approximately 30 years since they have desired a new house, but now without a husband. Therefore, her dead husband’s insurance money could fix this and Lena could buy a new house she is dreamed of for her whole life. The cheque for 10,000$ has given them possibilities and at the same time has created a tension between Walter Lee and Lena Younger. In addition to that, other members of the family treat Walter as a dreamy child with unachievable goals and take the mother’s side in this dispute. This is seen when Walter in the morning asks his wife to persuade Lena to give him money to invest in the liquor store. When she rejects him, Walter states, «Man say to his woman: I got me a dream. His woman say: Eat your eggs» (Hansberry 37). He is ignored by all the members of the family and this situation embraced in her house drives Lena crazy. To relieve the conflict, she seeks peace in buying a new house and this is what she does when receives money.
On the other hand, since Walter is insisted on investing in the liquor store, Lena trusts the rest of the money to him. This Lena’s decision resolves the conflict in this house and makes everyone happy until Walter loses every penny he has given. This moment brings back the tension into the house and every character being against Walter. Walter, being addicted to money, tries to transact with Mr. Lindner and get a generous offer from reconsidering to move into the white neighborhood. Walter’s main problem is that he ignores his mother’s dream and sees money as a solution to all their problems.
However, at the final scene, Walter Lee becomes more adult and gives up his own principles about money and leads his family to a new house. Before, Walter was stubborn to his principals, and now, Walter shows how much he loves and respects his mother by taking her side and making peace with the other members of the family. Walter, for the first time, makes the decision in favor of his mother and, by doing this, he brings back the atmosphere of the living back into this family. To conclude, both William Shakespeare and Lorraine Hansberry set the conflict of protagonists with their mothers as the main theme of their plays. «A Raisin in the Sun» is closed at the point when the conflict between Lena and Walter is resolved, while «Hamlet» features a male protagonist who is mad at her mother but forgives her at the end. I tend to believe that without these disputes between protagonists and their mothers, the entire stories will be different than they are.
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