How do the studied poets and Shakespeare use literary techniques to show how people respond to forces in the world over which they have no control?
In this assessment I will be investigating the contents of Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, ‘On My First Son’ by Ben Jonson and ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ by Dylan Thomas, and the
literary techniques used in compliance with the idea of fate and going against it, as well as it going against the involved characters/writers.
With Shakespeare’s loss of his son, he would be inspired to go on to write the play Hamlet. Written around 1600 and published in 1603, It had very advanced film and theatre techniques, all with their own purpose within the play like another play entirely for Hamlet to get a point across to the king and exterior. ‘On my first son’ was written by Ben Jonson in 1603 and published in 1616 after the death of Jonson’s first son Benjamin at the age of seven prior to his first daughters death at six months old, later for his second son later to die in 1635. He was an unsuccessful actor, which lead him to poetry. Through his history we can see he has clearly experienced hardships and moments of distraught, which has intern gifted him with great patience, shown in this poem, where unlike the more youthful others, writes more disciplined and understanding, whilst maintaining his grief. ‘Don’t go gentle that good night’, written in 1947 written by Dylan Thomas, a Welshman, was a romantic poet, a heavy drinker and one who often engaged in roaring disputes in public. He’d also read his work aloud with tremendous depth of feeling, furthermore proving his lack of shame and pride in his work. This is all portrayed in his poem ‘Don’t go’ and other work, showing the same blaze in his words as he speaks of what he is passionate about. He would receive studies and lectures of Shakespeare’s work at his grammar school from his English professor.
The texts are similar in the sense that they are both the extremes of a similar event. Losing a son, and losing a father. Putting them into this perspective you can see how Hamlet acts his life after losing his father and the way Ben Johnson does in losing his son, and make a comparison.
While Ben Johnson is more remorseful and poetic in his words that have more than one meaning, understanding that it was his son’s time without being content with it, Hamlet expresses his anger and vengefulness, in his interaction with other characters and the choices he makes, similar to Dylan Thomas in his angry words towards fate. Acceptance and its opposite in play. These are characteristics used as literary techniques to show reaction to control, or rather lack of it, and the struggle against fate.
Hamlet senior (Snr.) dying, one could say, was an act against fate. It wasent his time to leave and is set up to have disrupted the plot, him being taken by another factor in the story. How the relatives of the departed acted were displayed by rage, frustration but also comprehension and knowledge that what has happened was to happen eventually regardless. You have no choice whether you die, but rather, how you live. It could also be said that the factors in life-like death itself was the one acting against fate, disrupting the story that has been created or the continued life of Dylan Thomas’ father/Ben Jonson’s son, like an unexpected anomaly or error that’s perpetually altered the course of the setting.
The idea of a ‘mortal coil’ and ‘the slings and arrows of outrages fortune’ written in Hamlet also refers to the setting and written path not being followed out to the letter as unexpected variables change it and cause it to stray from its course in favour for another. This played into practice would almost suggest the characters within the texts are aware that their ‘fate’ is already planned for them, that they know they are part of a play/poem, ultimately breaking the barrier that is the fourth wall, but this was a technique in itself Shakespeare used, to get points across to the viewers quickly, as well as being show in practice with ‘Ben Jonson’s best piece of poetry’, referring to his son. This could insinuate that being aware of their false reality caused them to ‘act’ the way they did, like being trapped in a dream knowing your asleep. Nothing counts and wont have reproduction’s. You’re free to behave and speak any way you want.
This is often times represented by the characters in all the texts questioning themselves in their confusion, surrounding themselves with the word ‘why’ – ‘will man lament the state he should envy?’ meaning should Ben Jonson now regret such a beautiful thing such as being a father. Particularly with events they cannot control, characters such as Hamlet and writers such as Dylan Thomas, both young men having lost their fathers, would act brash and outraged to have something that meant so much to them be taken from them, lecturing themselves in an attempt to make some sense and give reasons also techniques used to communicate with the audience/readers. In other cases like Hamlet’s mother marrying his uncle, which he disliked very much so, he wouldn’t talk as much about it as he would talk of his late father and blame his incestuous uncle, being that (whether he acknowledges it or not) his mother still means a great deal to him and even more so now that she is his only family and connection to his father. It is difficult to hate/blame someone you love, so you assert the closest other person causing your discomfort. Similarly you could say Dylan Thomas feels the same in the sense that he blames death for coming upon his father, rather than regret his father for leaving. Actions of fate acting against the protagonists.
One of Shakespeare’s more surfaced literary techniques depicting again response to lack of control, shown also in Ben Jonson’s poem, the use of meter, the iambic pentameter is the follow of words that have the same amount of syllables and are usually the same length, effectively sounding like they go together. ‘Don’t go gentle,’ for example, uses the feature further by utilising the last line to reference the idea of life and death by using the words ‘light’ and ‘night’, ‘Rage, rage against the dying of the light’ insinuating to try to stay alive. It can sometimes occur unintentionally when writing. When the writer finds a flow they may find themselves writing in a meter, further enhancing the idea of fate in cooperation with the fourth wall. But meters can be used with a hidden technique as is done in Hamlet, when he is allegedly going insane. Hamlet refuses to use iambic pentameter in this sequence which can be interpreted as Shakespeare taking further the notion of him being distant from the other characters and his anti-hero like properties.
The iambic pentameter can also be represented with fate in mind as a prediction for what occurs next in the play and poems. Expecting a syllable or rhyming word, furthermore symbolising how their future is planned out, being written and the characters having no free will. Diving deeper, it can be said that the tide has another purpose Resembling a heartbeat slowing down to an eventual stop, simulating death, which is a fundamental common factor across the texts. This accents the sudden stop that including in different types of dying. It can of course, just be being used because it sounds nice.
Using analytical effort, the corresponding dates and research of prior work of each text show clearly how inspiration from Shakespeare and his techniques are implemented and personalities linked comedy, absorption and specifically anger, playing a vital role in the poem by Dylan Thomas, enthusing the naivety/less accepting tendencies as a young man as opposed to an older person like in ‘My Only Son’. Added evidence from Hamlet and his revenge quest supports this. In conclusion, the texts are clearly linked. They share common factors like dying and hidden techniques, all over-seed by fate. The men then respond in usually similar ways to each other in accordance to losing a loved one, displayed with anger in the youth and wisdom in old age.