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Hamlet: a Rasa-Dhvani approach.


Hamlet and the Rasa Theory

Indian dramatic tradition lays prime emphasis on the emotions aroused in the audience. It is not the motivation of the protagonist but the emotions of the audience that is taken into consideration. There is however a link between the two. The entire atmosphere of the theatrical presentation including the emotions expressed by the actor or actress . creates a specific mental state in the mind of the viewer. This mental state or feeling could gradually intensify leading to a longer lasting emotion or it could vanish immediately and become quickly replaced by another. In this manner, the whole dramatic presentation produces a series of emotions either durable or momentary, so that for the spectator the play basically becomes a journey through a wide spectrum of emotions.

In case of Hamlet, the protagonist occupies a central position in the generation of emotions. As it can be seen later, with a few exceptions, the whole emotional process of the viewer revolves around Hamlet. One reason is that unlike other Shakespearean characters like Macbeth or Othello, Hamlet is an upright man and his suffering as a hero enjoys a much higher degree of empathy from the audience. Moreover there is not a single scene in the entire play where Hamlet doesn't figure and his powerful soliloquies touch the audience at a higher mental plane. Keeping this in mind, I proceed to make a detailed analysis of the entire play taking the theory of rasa with all its intricacies into account, in order to study the development of the individual rasas.


The opening scene of the play arouses a feeling of wonder (adbhuta rasa) and then strikes fear (bhayanaka rasa) in the audience at the mention of the apparition:
    Marcellus: ... Touching this dreaded sight twice seen of us.
    Therefore I have entreated him along
    With us to watch the minutes of this night,
   That if again this apparition come....

(I. i: 23-26)

The feelings of fear and wonder are intensified at the appearance of the Ghost:

Horatio:... .It harrows me with fear and wonder.

(I. i:42)

But since wonder and fear cannot co-exist, being opposing emotions, it is fear or bhayanaka rasa, which supersedes wonder.

Running parallel to wonder, there is a trace of valour or heroism (vira rasa) at the sight of the Ghost, which had appeared in the form of the deceased king, in all his knightly armour:
   Marcellus: Is it not like the King?

   Horatio: ... Such was the very armour he had on
   When he th' ambitious Norway combated.
   So frowned he once when, in an angry parley
   He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.
   'Tis strange.

(I. i: 57-63)

Vyabhicarlbhavas or secondary feelings of doubt, suspicion and apprehension appear simultaneously to aid and intensify the basic emotion of fear or bhayanaka rasa:

Horatio: ...This bodes some strange eruption to our state.


Barnardo: ...How now, Horatio! You tremble and look pale.


The transitory feelmg of doubt is reflected in line 63 ('Tis strange), whereas suspicion is reflected in lines 106.2 to 106.4:
   Barnardo: ... Well may it sort that this portentous figure
   Comes armed through our watch so like the king
   That was and is the question of these wars.

We notice feelings of apprehension in the following lines:
   Horatio:... And even the like precurse of feared events,
   As harbingers preceding still the fates,
   And prologue to the omen coming on,
   Have heaven and earth together demonstrated
   Unto our climature and countrymen.

(I. i: 106.14-106.18)

Vira rasa or heroism reiterates in several places like:
   Horatio: Such was the very armour he had on
   When he th' ambitious Norway combated.
   So frowned he once when, in an angry parley
   He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice

(I. i: 59-62)
   Horatio:... our last king,
   Whose image even but now appeared to us,
   Was as you know by Fortinbras of Norway,
   Thereto pricked on by a most emulate pride,
   Dared to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet--
   For so this side of our known world esteemed him--
   Did slay this Fortinbras...

P. i: 79-85)

   Horatio :... In the most high and palmy state of Rome,
   A little ere the mightiest Julius fell....

(I. i: 106.6-106.7)

These momentary emotions again give way to wonder and amazement at the reappearance of the Ghost, re-instilling the fear (bhayanaka rasa) in the audience. The strange phenomenon initially evoking wonder, eventually leads to fear or bhayanaka rasa. So wonder and fear alternate in quick succession until wonder succumbs to fear. Both opposing emotions appear to be equally powerful, but it is the negative emotion of fear, which suppresses its opponent wonder, and takes precedence. The transitory feelings (vyabhicaribhavas) arising out of these emotions are doubt, suspicion and apprehension. Vira rasa introduced at an early stage, though inherently a basic or durable emotion, becomes overpowered by fear and is reduced to the status of a secondary emotion like its counterpart, wonder. Thus fear manifests itself as the dominant rasa.

The second scene reveals Hamlet's instinctive distrust towards Claudius and his utter disgust (jugupsa bhava) for the queen for her hasty marriage with her brother-in-law, a union he calls "incest." The intensity of his disgust is artfully exhibited throughout the scene as in the following lines:
   Hamlet:... frailty, thy name is woman--
   A little month, or ere those shoes were old
   With which she followed my poor father's body
   Like Niobe, all tears, why she, even she--
   O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason
   Would have mourned longer!--married with my uncle,
   My father's brother, but no more like my father
   Than I to Hercules; within a month,
   Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
   Had left the flushing of her galled eyes,
   She married. O most wicked speed, to post
   With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!

(I. ii: 146-157)

Hamlet's bitterness (disgust) can also be seen in lines 175-182:
   Horatio: My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.

   Hamlet: I prithee do not mock me, fellow-student;
   I think it was to see my mother's wedding.

   Horatio: Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon.

   Hamlet: Thrift, thrift, Horatio. The funeral baked meats
   Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.
   Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven
   Or ever I had seen that day, Horatio.

Through Hamlet's disgust, bibhatsa rasa (aversion) is created in the minds of the audience. Associated with this emotion are other subsidiary feelings or vyabhicarlbhavas like Hamlet's mood of dejection at certain periods. When Gertrude expresses her concern that it seems like Hamlet is still mourning the loss of his father, he reaffirms it in the following passage:
   Hamlet: Seems, madam? Nay, it is. I know not 'seems.'
   'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good-mother,
   Nor customary suits of solemn black,
   Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
   No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
   Nor the dejected behaviour of the visage,
   Together with all forms, moods, shows of grief
   That can denote me truly. These indeed 'seem,'
   For they are actions that a man might play;
   But I have that within which passeth show--
   These but the trappings and the suits of woe.

(I. ii: 76-86)

One also notices signs of dejection in the following lines of Hamlet:
   Hamlet O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,
   Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew,
   Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
   His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God, O God,
   How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
   Seem to me all the uses of this world!

(I. ii: 129-133)

Intertwined with bibhatsa rasa or aversion is another subsidiary feeling of suspicion caused by Hamlet's inherent distrust towards Claudius, revealed in line 65 where he describes him as "A little more than kin and less than kind." Also Hamlet's words "I am too much I' th' sun" (line 67) can give rise to variety of meanings. This is a typical example of dhvani, which will be discussed in later chapters. The unpleasant feelings of doubt and suspicion are also clearly perceived in Hamlet's remark, "All is not well. I doubt some foul play." (lines 254-255)

In the second part of this scene, wonder or adbhuta rasa is again experienced when Horatio, Marcellus and Bernardo relate their experience with the Ghost.

Like in the first scene adbhuta rasa or wonder fades to the background, and bibhatsa rasa or disgust emerges more prominent.

Scene III does not evoke any rasa. Both Polonius and Laertes try to give some sound advice to Ophelia warning her not to succumb to Hamlet's advancements and proclamations of love. This scene reflects a temporary feeling of doubt (vyabhicaribhava) regarding Hamlet's fidelity as a lover. The feeling of doubt is an associate of the basic emotion of love or sriigara rasa.

Scene IV again brings forth the emotion of wonder (adbhuta rasa) at the reentry of the Ghost. There is a strong feeling of suspicion as to the real identity and intention of the Ghost:
   Hamlet:.. .Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned,
   Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,
   Be thy intents wicked or charitable,
   Thou com'st in such a questionable shape...

(I. iv: 21-24)

Adbhuta rasa or wonder is immediately followed by the predominant emotion of fear or bhayanaka rasa. This fear gives rise to suspicion of the Ghost's motives:
   Hamlet: Why, what should be the fear?...
   Horatio: What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,
   Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff
   That beetles o'er his base into the sea,
   And there assume some other horrible form
   Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason
   And draw you into madness?...

(I. iv: 45-55)

Scene V displays a sense of shock and anger at the Ghost's revelation. Its anger caused by Claudius' heinous crime is transmitted to Hamlet and manifests itself as raudra rasa. The Ghost's fury is expressed in the following words:

Ghost: Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.


Hamlet's fury is expressed in the following lines:
   Hamlet: O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else?
   And shall I couple hell? O fie! Hold, hold, my heart ...

(I. v: 92-93)

Side by side this anger is tainted with contempt and disgust towards Claudius and Gertrude:
   Ghost: Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,
   With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts-
   O wicked wit and gifts, that have the power
   So to seduce!--won to his shameful lust
   The will of my most seeming virtuous queen...

(I. v: 42-46)

Disgust and anger is also shown in the following words of Hamlet's speech:
   Hamlet: O most pernicious woman!
   O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!

(I. v: 105-106)

One also notices transient feelings (vyabhicaribhava) of sadness or dejection:
   Ghost: ... O Hamlet, what a falling off was there!--
   From me, whose love was of that dignity
   That it went hand-in-hand even with the vow
   I made to her in marriage, and to decline
   Upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor
   To   those of mine!

(I. v: 47-52)

There is a trace of heroism (vira rasa) when Hamlet swears revenge after the Ghost's revelation. "I have sworn't (line 113). However vira rasa is only a minor emotion. Raudra rasa (anger) and disgust (bibhatsa rasa) are the two major rasas of equal prominence.


In the first scene of the second act, we are confronted with the emotion of sorrow or soka bhava expressed by Hamlet and interpreted by Polonius as "the ecstasy of love" (line 104). The anubhavas or physical gestures expressing Hamlet's sorrow or madness have been described in the following lines:
   Ophelia: He took me by the wrist, and held me hard,
   Then goes he to the length of all his arm,
   And with his other hand thus o'er his brow,
   He falls to such perusal of my face
   As a would draw it. Long stayed he so.
   At last, a little shaking of mine arm,
   And thrice his head thus waving up and down,
   He raised a sigh so piteous and profound
   That it did seem to shatter all his bulk
   And end his being. That done, he lets me go,
   And, with his head over his shoulder turned,
   He seemed to find his way without his eyes,
   For out o'doors he went without their help,
   And to the last bended their light on me.

(II. i: 88-101)

The reason of Hamlet's sorrow or apparent madness is left unexplained and therefore fails to arise any specific rasa in the audience. At the most Hamlet's outward behaviour could lead to a temporary feeling of pity (vyabhicaribhava).

The second scene introduces an element of humour and brings out hasya rasa (clinic) in the audience. The source of this hasya or laughter is Polonius' buffoonery, who is convinced of Hamlet's love-sickness and vehemently believes that to be the cause of his madness. Polonius' exaggerated speech only evokes ridicule and exasperates Gertrude for its redundancy and poor wit. Not coming straight to the point, he goes on beating around the bush, trying to arouse suspense with a ludicrous jumble of words:
   Polonius:...My liege and madam, to expostulate
   What majesty should be, what duty is,
   What day is day, night night, and time is time,
   Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time,
   Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
   And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
   I will be brief. Your noble son is mad--
   'Mad'call I it, for to define true madness,
   What is't but to be nothing else but mad?
   But let that go.

   Queen Gertrude: More matter with less art.

   Polonius: Madam, 1 swear I use no art at all.

   That he is mad, 'tis true: 'tis true 'tis pity,
   And pity 'tis 'tis true a foolish figure,
   But farewell it, for I will use no art.
   Mad let us grant him, then, and now remains
   That we find out the cause of this effect--
   Or rather say the cause of this defect,
   For this effect defective comes by cause.
   Thus it remains, and the remainder thus
   I have a daughter--have whilst she is mine--
   Who in her duty and obedience, mark,
   Hath given me this...

(II. ii: 87-109)

Later Hamlet's dialogue with Polonius also brings out hasya rasa (comic) by force of its wit and humour. Hamlet's madness seems to be a pretended madness and there is much truth and irony in his seemingly senseless words:
   Hamlet: Slanders, sir; for the satirical slave says here that old
      men have
   grey beards...

   Polonius: [aside] Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.
   --Will you walk out of the air, my lord?

   Hamlet: Into my grave?

   Polonius: Indeed, that's out o'th' air. [Aside] How pregnant
   his replies are!

   A happiness that often madness hits on, which reason and
   sanity could not so prosperously be delivered of...

(II. ii: 196-209)

In the next few lines Hamlet expresses his disgust or jugupsa bhava at the turn of events in an implicit manner:

Hamlet: In the secret parts of Fortune? O, most true, she is a strumpet.

(II ii: 230-231)

His disgust becomes more explicit when he calls Denmark a prison:
   Hamlet: ...What have you, my good friends, deserved at the hands of
   Fortune, that she sends you to prison hither?

   Guildenstera: Prison, my lord?

   Hamlet: Denmark's a prison.

   Rosencrantz: Then is the world one.

   Hamlet: A goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards, and
   dungeons, Denmark being one o' th' worst.

   Rosencrantz: We think not so, my lord.

   Hamlet: Why then'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good
   bad but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.

(II ii: 235-245)

Hamlet's jugupsa bhava leads to bibhatsa rasa (disgust) in the audience. The feelings (vyabhicarlbhavas) of dejection and world-weariness expressed by Hamlet in the following lines intensify the bibhatsa rasa:
   Hamlet: ... I have of late--but wherefore I know not--lost all my
   mirth, foregone all custom of exercise; and indeed it goes so heavily
   with my disposition, that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me
   a sterile promontory. This most excellent canopy the air, look you,
   this brave o'er-hanging, this majestical roof fretted with golden
   fire--why it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent
   congregation of vapours.

   What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in
   faculty, 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! And yet to me, what is this
   quintessence of dust? Man delights not me--nor woman neither....

(II ii: 287-299)

His disgust comes to the surface at his referral to the king and queen as his "uncle-father" and "aunt-mother" (line 358).

Though the mood changes to the comic at Polonius' entry, it remains tainted with disgust. Due to Ms foolish assumptions and unwanted intrusion, Polonius seems to have become an object of ridicule and aversion for Hamlet:

Hamlet: ... That great baby you see there is not yet out of his swathing clouts.

(II ii: 365-366)

Hamlet seems to find pleasure in encouraging Polonius' absurd notions of his behaviour and love-sickness for Ophelia:

Hamlet: For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a good kissing carrion-have you a daughter?

Polonius: I have, my lord.

Hamlet: Let her not walk I' th'sun. Conception is a blessing, but not as your daughter may conceive-friend, look to't.

Polonius: [aside] How say you by that? Still harping on my daughter. Yet he knew me not at first... and truly, in my youth I suffered much extremity for love. Very near this.

(II ii: 182-190)
   Hamlet: O Jephthah, judge of Israel,what a treasure hadst thou!

   Polonius: What a treasure had he,my lord?

   Hamlet: Why,
   'One fair daughter and no more,
   The which he loved passing well.'

   Polonius: [aside] Still on my daughter

(II ii: 385-391)

Next follows the emotion of fear. The players arrive. Hamlet and one of the players recite a few lines of the play, Aeneas 'tale to Dido, referring to Priam's slaughter by Pyrrmis. The gory details of the slaughter combined with the anticipation of Claudius' death in a similar manner, lend it an emotion of fear producing bhayanaka rasa in the audience.

This is again replaced by Hamlet's disgust; this time directed at his own self, at his inability to take action. Apparently in a confused state of mind, he calls himself a coward:
   Hamlet:... Yet I,
   A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak
   Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
   And can say nothing;...Am I a coward?
   Who calls me villain, breaks my pate across,
   Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face, 0
   Tweaks me by th' nose, gives me the lie I' th' throat
   As deep as to the lungs? Who does me this?
   Ha, 'swounds, I should take it; for it cannot be
   But I am pigeon-livered and lack gall... .Bloody, bawdy villain!
   Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!
   O, vengeance!
   Why, what an ass am I! Ay, sure, This is most brave,
   That I, the son of a dear father murdered,
   Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
   Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words.....

(II ii: 543-563)

There is also anger and disgust for the king combined with disgust for his own self. However what he calls inaction doesn't seem to be so when viewed in the correct light. It is his sensitivity and self- restraint, which does not allow him to take any rash decision, let passion overpower his reasoning or prompt him to action without proper evidence. Not following blindly the Ghost's command, Hamlet seeks to verify the truth and appeal to his own better judgement before taking any decision. Despite his instinctive distrust for Claudius, he doesn't get carried away by the Ghost's words and wants to give the accused a fair chance. He couldn't condemn a non-guilty person however much he despised him. His calculated reasoning and fair judgement, even during periods of turbulence show true heroism in his nature.

As we can see, the predominating emotion in this scene is disgust which grips Hamlet almost constantly, mainly directed at his mother and her newly-wed husband and partly at Polonius for his unwanted intervention. The rasa derived is thus, bibhatsa rasa.


In the first scene of the third act the king and queen discuss the cause of Hamlet's lunacy with Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and Polonius. Claudius views Hamlet's madness with suspicion. Guildenstern echoes this feeling, which is evident from the following lines:
   King Claudius: And can you by no-drift of circumstance,
   Get from him why he puts on this confusion,
   Grating so harshly all his days of quiet
   With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?

(III i: 1-4)
   Guildenstern:.. .But with a crafty madness keeps aloof
   When we would bring him on to some confession
   Of his true state.

(III i: 8-10)

The king's suspicion stems from his guilt that builds up a sense of insecurity from the fear of his crime being found out. The first clear indication of his guilt is seen in the passage below:
   King Claudius: [aside] O, 'tis too trae.
   How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience.
   The harlot's cheek, beautied with plast'ring art,
   Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it
   Than is my deed to my most painted word.
   O heavy burden!

(III i.52-56)

Next we come to those famous lines in the play:,
   Hamlet: To be, or not to be; that is the question:
   Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
   The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
   Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
   And, by opposing, end them.....

(III i: 58-62)

Hamlet is in a state of inner conflict and deep contemplation. He does not allow his passion to cloud his reasoning. What is crucial to him is that he takes the nobler decision--whether to suffer the "slings of fortune" or to fight and oppose it. At the same time he condemns himself for not taking immediate action and blames his own conscience for being the cause of his cowardice:
   Hamlet: Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
   And thus the native hue of resolution
   Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought
   And enterprises of great pith and moment
   With this regard their currents turn awry
   And lose the name of action...

(III i: 85-90)

Another cause of his utter dejection is unfulfilled love. Ophelia's rejection of his sincere love intensifies his grief, what he calls the "pangs of disprized love" (line 74). Hamlet's mental confusion and sorrow triggers karuna rasa (sorrow) in the audience.

Complementing Hamlet's dejection and sorrow is his total disgust. The disgust for his mother has developed into an aversion for womankind in general. He is disappointed with Ophelia for not responding to him and for being a puppet to her father's manipulation. His apparent harshness towards Ophelia actually discloses his contempt for the whole women race:

Hamlet: Ay, truly, for the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness. This was sometime a paradox, but now the time gives it proof....

You should not have believed me, for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it.

Get thee to a nunnery. Why wouldst thou be a breeder Of sinners?...

(III i: 113-123)

He also derides Polonius when he says that "he may play the fool nowhere but in's own house" (lines 132-133).

Hidden behind all this confusion and outpour of emotion, there lies however a firmness in decision contradicting his previous soliloquy about his lack of decision (to be or not to be...).

Hamlet says in lines 147-148--"Those that are married already--all but one--shall live." This is an emphatic statement that Claudius is going to die at his hands.

Claudius who has overheard Hamlet's conversation with Ophelia is shrewd in detecting some melancholy in his countenance. For Claudius, this is a clear signal of a forthcoming danger. A guilty man, constantly aware of the crime he has committed, his fear gets rekindled and he plans to dispatch Hamlet off to England. His final words of caution are, "Madness in great ones must not unwatched go" (line 188).

So, in this scene, we notice the transitory feelings of suspicion and dejection. There is the major emotion of fear, which becomes overpowered and hence doesn't rise to the status of the main rasa. Hamlet, the character has become dominated by aversion and sorrow and as a whole produces karuna rasa (sorrow) in the audience.

In scene II the play is staged before the royal couple and other courtiers. Before the play begins, Hamlet gives instructions to Horatio to observe Claudius' reaction to the murder scene. Behind Hamlet's apparent inaction and confusion lies a rational thinking mind. He wants to set a trap for Claudius to test his guilt. He doesn't take the Ghost's words to be true without evidence. And he couldn't kill anyone without proper justification. Once Claudius' guilt is out in the open, Hamlet wouldn't hesitate to slay him and avenge his father's death. This is a truly heroic trait in his character.

Before the opening of the play, he behaves in a somewhat rude manner with Ophelia, even indulging in ribaldry:
   Hamlet:.. .here's mettle more attractive.
   Do you think I meant country matters?
   That's a fair thought to lie between maid's legs

(III ii: 99,105&107)

These words actually reflect Hamlet's disgust but may not be strong enough to create bibhatsa rasa (disgust) as they are targeted towards Ophelia who remains an innocent victim of circumstances in the whole play. Rather they may arouse the transitory feeling of pity for her amongst the audience. Hamlet expresses his derision for Gertrude quite explicitly when he says:
   Hamlet:... For look how cheerfully my mother looks,
   and my father died within's two hours.

(III ii: 114-115)

The play opens with the king and queen expressing their love for each other. The queen's exaggerated promises and vows of love and fidelity becomes only a mockery and generates bibhatsa rasa or disgust.

But the critical moment comes in the murder scene when the king suddenly arises giving clear evidence of his guilt. This is the moment Hamlet has been waiting for. The trap is successful and his purpose accomplished. Both Hamlet and Horatio are convinced of the Ghost's words. The situation is not powerful enough to generate any specific rasa but induces a strong feeling of excitement (vyabhicaribhava).

Then enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern for a private word with Hamlet. He is totally aware of the two men's intention, which is to extract the truth from him and convey it to the king. From the very beginning Hamlet views them with suspicion and contempt. In the midst of their conversation Polonius enters and passes him the queen's message that she wished to see him in her private chamber. Hamlet sets out on his second purpose of explaining to Gertrude of her infidelity to her first husband. He wants to prick her conscience by making her aware of her unfaithfulness and lack of virtue.

As it can be seen, there are transitory feelings of suspicion, pity and excitement reinforcing the main emotions in this scene. However there are two major emotions overlapping each other, i.e., disgust and heroism. The sources of disgust are the king and the queen as well as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. But Hamlet's attitude displays one of heroism. However, being opposing emotions they repel each other and cannot occur simultaneously. In this case, following the rasa theorists, disgust (bibhatsa) gets the upper hand and becomes the principal emotion.

In the third scene, the king plans to send away Hamlet immediately to England, becoming aware that his dangerous secret is out. He asks Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to accompany Hamlet in this "speedy voyage." Claudius acts purely out of fear from Hamlet's wrath. His fear has turned into panic when he says to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern:
   King Claudius: Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage,
   For we will fetters put upon this fear,
   Which now goes too free-footed.

(III iii: 24-26)

Claudius is assayed by a strong sense of guilt. He calls his murder as that which has "the primal eldest curse upon't" (line 37). Though he wishes his sins to be washed away, he is unable to repent for his deeds. He knows atonement is not possible unless he rids himself of his ambition and other worldly desires which led him to fratricide:
   King Claudius: ...My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent,
   And like a man to double business bound
   I stand in pause where I shall first begin,
   And both neglect. What if this cursed hand
   Were thicker than itself with brother's blood,
   Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
   To wash it white as snow.....
   but O, what form of prayer
   Can serve my turn? 'Forgive me my foul murder'?
   That cannot be, since I am still possessed
   Of those effects for which I did the murder--
   My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.

(III iii: 40-55)

When the king kneels in prayer, Hamlet enters and finds a golden opportunity to slay him. But his over analytical mind steps in between. He doesn't believe his father's death will be avenged if he kills his murderer at prayer, for to take a man in the purging of his soul would only send him to heaven. By slaying Claudius now, he would undoubtedly follow the Ghost's command but its purpose would be lost.

So, here we find the subsidiary feeling of guilt (vyabhicaribhava) arising out of Claudius' fear, the primary emotion in this scene.

In the final scene (scene iv) of this act Polonius is slain by Hamlet. The purpose of killing Polonius is however, not clear. It could be that he mistakes Polonius for the king and slays him. Or it could be that Hamlet considers Polonius to be a prying nuisance and a danger to his motives and takes the opportunity to do away with him.

After getting rid of Polonius, Hamlet proceeds to goad his mother's conscience, to make her realize her gross mistake in forgetting her first husband and remarrying so hastily. In a rhapsody of words he praises his father and condemns the evil Claudius. It is his aim to prick his mother's conscience and make her see her own folly. Despite his contempt for Gertrude, he doesn't see her beyond atonement. He wants his mother to be cleared of all sins. In true repentance would her sin be atoned which is Hamlet's goal at the moment. Hamlet succeeds in his efforts when Gertrude begins to see her folly. Consumed by guilt she utters the following words:
   Queen Gertrude: O Hamlet, speak no more!
   Thou turn'st my eyes into my very soul,
   And there I see such black and grained spots
   As will not leave their tinct.

   Hamlet: Nay, but to live
   In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
   Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love
   Over the nasty sty--

   Queen Gertrude: O, speak to me no more!
   These words like daggers enter my ears.
   No more, sweet Hamlet.

(III iv: 78-86)
   Hamlet: .. .Confess yourself to heaven;
   Repent what's past, avoid what is to come,
   And do not spread the compost o'er the weeds
   To make them ranker....

   Queen Gertrude: O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain!

(III iv: 140-147)

In justly turning away Gertrude from Claudius, Hamlet secures his first triumph over the murderer. Also in killing Polonius, he removes one thorn from his path. This success of the hero generates vira rasa (heroism) and remains the principal emotion in this scene.

There are several transient feelings or vyabhicarlbhavas in this scene as well. There is surprise when Hamlet physically forces Gertrude to sit down; taken aback she shouts for help. There is visible shock at the unexpected killing of Polonius. There is the strong feeling of guilt already mentioned before. There is amazement at the appearance of the Ghost. The Ghost, which remains invisible to the queen causes great amazement to her when Hamlet talks to it. She believes him to be mad and calls it "the very coinage of his brain" (line 127). Then the transient feeling of contempt appears when Hamlet talks of his two "friends" who are to accompany him on his voyage to England:
   Hamlet: There's letters sealed, and my two school-fellows--
   Whom I will trust as J will adders fanged....

(III iv: 185.1-185.2)

And lastly disappointment is expressed when Gertrude remembers of Hamlet's impending journey to England:
   Hamlet: I must of England.
   You know that?

   Queen Gertrude: Alack, I had forgot.
   'Tis so concluded on.

(III iv: 182-185)


The first scene of Act IV looks like a stage of confusion caused by Polonius' death. The queen is in a state of shock at the turn of events. Still shaken by her son's behaviour she blurts out before Claudius:
   Queen Gertrude: Mad as the sea and wind when both contend
   Which is the mightier. In his lawless fit,
   Behind the arras hearing something stir,
   Whips his rapier out and cries 'A rat, a rat!,'
   And in his brainish apprehension kills
   The unseen good old man.

(IV i: 6-10)

It is now the king's turn to be shocked. His fear is rekindled and he dreads of what is to come. Completely aware now of Hamlet's wrath, he realizes he might well have been the victim instead of Polonius. The transient feeling arising out of his fear is deception when he talks of his love for Hamlet. This is deception at its worst as in reality he is designing the murder of Hamlet, whom he considers his arch enemy at the moment. Losing no time he plans to ship off Hamlet the very next morning along with Rosencrantz and " Guildenstern. Shaken to the roots, Claudius exclaims that his "soul is full of discord and dismay" (line 40).

The main emotion or rasa in this scene is undoubtedly fear or bhayanaka rasa intensified by the subsidiary feelings or vyabhicanbhavas of shock and deception.

The second scene emits pure bibhatsa rasa or aversion. The king, his courtiers--Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and Polonius are all objects of Hamlet's aversion. He overtly ? expresses his contempt for the villainy of Claudius and the sycophancy of Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and Polonius. His contempt is matched by his wit when he replies to Rosencrantz's query:
   Rosencrantz: Take you me for a sponge, my lord?

   Hamlet: Ay, sir, that soaks up the king's countenance, his
   rewards, his authorities. But such officers do the King best
   in the end. He keeps them like an apple in the corner of his jaw,
   corner of his jaw, first mouthed to be last swallowed. When he
   what you have gleaned, it is but squeezing you and,
   sponge you shall be dry again.

(IV ii: 13-19)

Hamlet's witty sarcasm continues into the next scene when he calls the king a food for worms and addresses him as his mother. The comic interrupts Hamlet's contempt at this stage:

King Claudius: Now, Hamlet where's Polonius?

Hamlet: At supper.

King Claudius: At supper? Where?

Hamlet: Not where he eats, but where a is eaten. A certain convocation of politic worms are e'en at him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet. We fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service-two dishes, but to one table. That's the end...

Hamlet:... Farewell, dear mother.

King Claudius: Thy loving father, Hamlet.

Hamlet: My mother. Father and mother is man and wife, man and wife is one flesh, and so, my mother....

(IV iii: 17-54)

These dialogues break the gravity of the whole atmosphere and can only erupt laughter (hasa) in the audience.

In this scene the king reveals his wicked designs of getting Hamlet executed in England. He is shrewd enough to realize that killing or imprisoning Hamlet in Denmark would only bring about his own downfall as the prince is "loved of the distracted multitude" (line 4). This action of an evildoer, who doesn't flinch from committing one crimeafter the other, simply draws aager or raudra rasa from the audience.

So here both the emotions of raudra rasa (anger) and hasya rasa (comic) run almost parallel to each other. Being friendly emotions, not opposed to the other, neither of them blocks the other and is free to take its own course. However, it may be concluded that raudra rasa ultimately prevails over hasya rasa as it appears at the end of the scene, creating a more lasting impression.

The fourth scene generates karuna rasa or sorrow at Hamlet's pitiable condition. He believes himself to be a coward compared to Fortinbras who can march with pride with his vast army and has no compunction in laying down twenty thousand lives for the sake of a piece of land. In truth it is Hamlet's higher sensitivity and compassion and his regard for human life that stands in his way. But Hamlet calls this conflict within his heart and mind as cowardice. His dejection is the source of karuna rasa in the audience.

The fifth scene of this act is a prolific exhibition of Ophelia's anguish in the form of madness. Plunged in sorrow at Hamlet's rejection of her and her father's sudden death, she has gone mad. Her songs are clearly expressive of her longing for Hamlet (vipralambha sriigara or love-in-separation) and her grief at her father's death. Ophelia's mournful distraction fills the heart with tenderness and evokes pure karuna rasa. Laertes brings in the emotion of anger or raudra rasa. Believing Claudius to be the cause of his father's death, he bravely confronts him swearing for vengeance. Seething with rage he challenges Claudius with the following words:
   Laertes: How came he dead? I'll not be juggled with.
   To hell allegiance! Vows to the blackest devil,
   Conscience and grace to the profoundest pit!
   I dare damnation. To this point I stand,
   That both the worlds I give to negligence,
   Let come what comes. Only I'll be revenged
   Most thoroughly for my father.

(IV v: 126-132)

Laertes' uncontrolled rage and fearless challenge are also signs of bravery. Here, raudra rasa (anger) unfolds heroism and gives rise to vira rasa as well. The two friendly emotions support each other and run parallel.

Laertes is in for a second shock (transient feeling or vyabhicaribhava) at the reentry of Ophelia. His sister's loss of sanity doubles his grief resulting in karuna rasa in the audience. So the total effect in this scene is one of karuna rasa, raudra rasa and virar asa remaining only secondary.

In Scene VI, the sailors deliver Hamlet's letter to Horatio, where he expresses his wish to meet him as soon as possible. Hamlet's urgency stirs up some excitement (vyabhicaribhava) in the audience of what is to follow. The scene is short and does not produce any rasa.

In the seventh and final scene of this act, Claudius is back in his own element, cunning and sly, contriving Hamlet's death at the hands of Laertes. Very tactfully, he tries to instigate Laertes against Hamlet, goading his conscience towards performing his filial duty of avenging his father's death:
   King Claudius; Laertes, was your father dear to you?
   Or are you like the painting of a sorrow,
   A face without a heart?

(IV vii: 89-91)
   King Claudius: ... What would you undertake
   To show yourself in deed your father's son in deed
   More than in words?

(IV vii: 96-98)

Laertes' countenance is one of grief and rage:
   Laertes: And so have I a noble father lost,
   A sister driven into desp'rate terms,
   Who has, if praises may go back again,
   Stood challenger, on mount, of all the age
   For her perfections. But my revenge will come.

(IV vii: 25-29)

A master of deception, Claudius plans a scheme with Laertes, to murder Hamlet:
   King Claudius: Let's further think of this;
   Weigh what convenience both of time and means
   May fit us to our shape...Therefore this project
   Should have a back or second that might hold
   If this should blast in proof...
   When in your motion you are hot and dry--
   As make your bouts more violent to that end--
   And that he calls for drink, I'll have prepared him
   A chalice for the nonce, whereon but sipping,
   If he by chance escaped your venomed stuck,
   Our purpose may hold there--

(IV vii: 120-133)

Claudius' amorality and wickedness can only bring out anger or raudra rasa in the audience. This raudra rasa is interrupted by sorrow or karuna rasa at the news of Ophelia's death. Her death while deepening Laertes' grief, adds fuel to the fire, intensifying his rage:
   Laertes: Alas, then she is drowned?

   Queen Gertrude: Drowned, drowned.

   Laertes: Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia
   And therefore I forbid my tears. But yet
   it is our trick; nature her custom holds,
   Let shame say what it will. When these are gone,
   The woman will be out. Adieu, my lord.
   I have a speech of fire that fain would blaze,
   But that this folly douts it.

(IV vii: 155-163)

So, the two major rasas of sorrow (karuna) and anger (raudra) appear simultaneously in equal intensity or alternate in quick succession. According to the rasa theory both these emotions are opposing and do not go with each other. However the opposition between two emotions can be removed by directing the opposite emotions on different objects, which is the case here. Claudius' vile scheming combined with Laertes' rage is the source of raudra rasa whereas Ophelia's madness and her subsequent death is the cause of karuna rasa.


In the first scene, Ophelia's death can bring out no other emotion other than sadness or karuna rasa. The grim humour might provide some mental relief but may not draw laughter, as Ophelia's tragedy lies too heavily on the minds of the spectators.

Then follows the entry of the king, the queen and other royal attendants with Ophelia's corpse. A funeral scene particularly that of the innocent Ophelia, naturally culminates in karuna rasa. Hamlet is aghast at the mention of Ophelia's death; never for a moment having imagined the coffin to be carrying his beloved's body. From shock (transient feeling or vyabhicaribhava) follows intense grief. The queens parting words pour salt to his wounds:
   Hamlet: What, the fair Ophelia!

   Queen Gertrude: [scattering flowers] Sweets to the sweet. Farewell.
   I hoped thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife.
   I thought, thy bride-bed to have decked, sweet maid,
   And not t' have strewed thy grave.

(V i: 226-230)

Both Hamlet and Laertes, in their mourning lose their composure, which is but natural in the face of grief, and end up in a tussle. Laertes attacks Hamlet believing him to be the cause of his sister and father's death. So the emotion of sorrow is momentarily interrupted by raudra or anger, breaking the continuity of karuna rasa, but only for a short period.

Hamlet's bereavement is genuine:
   Hamlet: [Coming forward] What is he whose grief
   Bears such an emphasis, whose phrase of sorrow
   Conjures the wand'ring stars, and makes them stand
   Like wonder-wounded hearers? This is I,
   Hamlet the Dane. [Hamlet leaps in after Laertes]

(V i: 238-242)
   Hamlet: I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers
   Could not, with all their quantity of love,
   Make up my sum.

(V i: 254-256)

These words speak of the depth of his love. He had loved Ophelia all along despite the fact that he had previously claimed not to have loved her anymore and perhaps broken her heart, Srngara rasa (love) arises but subsides immediately in this tragic moment.

So the whole scene reverberates with karuna rasa only being shortly intermitted by raudra rasa (rage) and epigara rasa (love). The introduction of these opposing emotions does not aid karuna rasa but only succeeds in breaking its continuity and becomes subordinate to it.

The second scene introduces more intrigue into the play. Hamlet, constantly suspicious of Claudius' motives accidentally discovers the latter's evil designs of doing away with him. Very cleverly, Hamlet foils his plans and sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to the gallows instead. Hamlet, thoroughly fed up with their sycophancy feels they deserve no better end:
   Hamlet: Why, man, they did make love to mis employment.
   They are not near my conscience. Their defeat
   Doth by their own insinuation grow.

(V ii: 58-60)

Any friend of the king, who is now Hamlet's sworn enemy, becomes an enemy too. From this viewpoint Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern who are Claudius' friends are Hamlet's enemies and have been disposed off one after the other. It is unfortunate that Polonius happened to be the father of his beloved, but his constant interference and contriving had made him a formidable enemy. So he had to die. Gradually removing from his path, one thorn after the other, Hamlet seeks to reach his ultimate enemy, his final target.

On going through the play, the general impression could be that Hamlet has been procrastinating in his duty of avenging his father. But in retrospect, one can perceive fairly reasonable grounds for his supposed delay in action. First, he wanted clear evidence of Claudius' guilt. This is undisputedly an admirable strength of character. After his test, he is convinced of the latter's guilt by acquiring the evidence he has been looking for. But what evidence could he give to the people of Denmark? Who would believe his tale of a Ghost commanding him to action? Wouldn't his tale be misinterpreted as a guise for his thwarted ambition? In reality, it probably isn't that easy to slay Claudius as it appears in the . play, and Hamlet has to look for a proper opportunity for it.

The final scene of the play is mainly a mixture of vira rasa (heroism) and karuna rasa (sorrow) with a trace of sarcasm (vyabhicaribhava or subsidiary feeling). The latest victim of this sarcasm is the courtier Osric, whom Hamlet calls a water-fly (line 84). This secondary feeling is too mild and fails to create the stronger emotion of disgust or bibhatsa.

Hamlet clearly displays his bravery in this scene. Not enraged by Laertes' violent attack on him in the cemetery, Hamlet acknowledges the injustice he has done to Laertes and fully understands the tumult in his mind:
   Hamlet:... But I am very sorry, good Horatio,
   That to Laertes I forgot myself;
   For by the image of my cause I see
   The portraiture of his. I'll court his favours.
   But sure, the bravery of his grief did put me
   Into a tow'ring passion.

(V ii: 76-81)

Without any compunction or a moment's hesitation, Hamlet accepts Laertes' challenge for a duel, in spite of being aware of the latter's ingenuity in sword fighting. As befits a hero, with true humility, he asks for Laertes' pardon and accepts his hand of friendship:
   Hamlet: [to Laertes]. Give me your pardon, sir. I've done you wrong;
   But pardon't as you are a gentleman....
   That I have shot mine arrow o'er the house
   And hurt my brother.

(V ii: 163-181)

Hamlet's triumph lies in Laertes' forgiveness and acceptance of his hand of friendship. But Laertes' forgiveness doesn't make him flinch from a battle, notably a sign of bravery:
   Laertes:.. .1 do receive your offered love like love,
   And will not wrong it.

   Hamlet: I do embrace it freely,
   And will this brothers' wager frankly play.
   [To attendants] Give us the foils.

(V ii: 188-192)

Throughout the combat Hamlet shows his skill and courage. He commits his final act of heroism in slaying the king, fulfilling the task of the Ghost and his duty towards his father.

Karuna or sorrow is obviously generated at the death of the hero. Before dying Hamlet is cleared of the burden of his guilt, when Laertes realizes his falling into the trap of the king's plotting. His words serve to intensify the depth of the sorrow:
   Laertes: He is justly served.
   It is a poison tempered by himself.
   Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet.
   Mine and my father's death come not upon thee,
   Nor thine on me.

(V ii: 269-273)

The play ends with a final homage to Hamlet's nobleness and bravery complementing the atmosphere of sorrow or karuna:
   Fortinbras:.. .Let four captains
   Bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage,
   For he was likely, had he been put on,
   To have proved most royally; and for this passage,
   The soldiers' music and the rites of war
   Speak loudly for him.

(V ii: 339-344)

As we have seen, a play according to the Sanskrit canon mast have a single dominant emotion although there may be several other subsidiary emotions. Hamlet initially deals with two emotions disgust (bibhatsa rasa) and courage (vira rasa), the former dominating the latter until the middle of the play when courage or heroism and sorrow (karuna rasa) start taking precedence. Thereafter the course of his action is so confused that the audience is at a loss to be sure of the dominating emotion. There is no doubt that Hamlet loved Ophelia, as also the world and the life around him. But a series of events following the death of his father, such as his mother's marriage to Claudius and the latter's coronation, have aroused a strong aversion in Hamlet, for all that he loved earlier. It is not only his mother; Ophelia has also been a target, though not directly. Polonius has been his target because of his narrow thinking and feeble way of action, deciding always to coax the king. From the very beginning Polonius considers Hamlet's peculiar behaviour as a sign of madness and melancholy due to his love for Ophelia and rather foolishly tries to convince both the king and the queen about this matter. It is for this foolishness that he has also been a target of Hamlet's aversion or disgust. Hamlet also expresses his aversion for all those sycophants like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who had their associations with and subservience to the king. His aversion is not definite until his experience with the Ghost and this aversion is not confirmed until the performance of a drama within a drama. Although the Ghost particularly asks Hamlet not to take any action against his mother, it nevertheless goads him to hit her conscience. Hamlet thus obeys the Ghost and stimulates Gertrude to realize the sin she has committed. It seems the characters that are the targets of his aversion only consider him mad, or rather, in reverse, he is pretending to be mad while dealing with them. He speaks to his mother in the closet scene:
   Hamlet:.. .That I essentially am not in madness,
   But mad in craft.

(III iv: 171-172)

What is revealed ironically (vyanjana) is that both the king and Polonius are simply insensitive persons. The king is insensitive because of his brutality, cruelty and selfish opportunism. Polonius' selfishness lies in his foolish assumptions. Gertrude is undoubtedly intuitive as befits a mother. But this intuition and sensitivity are forcefully suppressed. While the king is shrewd and intelligent in studying Hamlet, Polonius' analyses are only ridiculously superficial. It is only Gertrude who has a real sense of concern and pity for Hamlet. She is truly worried and wishes that Hamlet's good sense be restored. Hamlet's aversion for his mother has reasonably diminished his love and devotion for her. A serious and sensitive man of Hamlet's character would obviously pay more priority of attention to carry out the instructions of the Ghost. And in doing so the warmth of love would naturally get cold. Here is the source of the emotion of sorrow or karuna. The total situation now is sufficiently intensified (alambana vibhava) to stimulate sorrow. A situation, which, Bharata calls curse (sapa) and Abhinavagupta interprets as asakya pratikara--an adverse situation beyond any remedy (pratikara). The hero is unable to overcome it although he wants to overcome it. Hamlet misbehaves with Ophelia consciously and intentionally but not deliberately. As S.H. Butcher considers this as one of the four types of hamartia originally pointed out by Aristotle, as causing sorrow and suffering of a tragic hero. To quote Butcher at length:
   As a synonym of hamartia and as applied to a single act, it denotes
   an error due to inadequate knowledge of particular circumstances.
   According to strict usage we should add the qualification, that the
   circumstances are such as might have been known. Thus it would
   cover any error of judgement arising from a hasty or careless view
   of the special case; an error which in some degree is morally
   culpable, as it might have been avoided. Error of this kind has the
   highest claim to pity or consideration. But the more proper term
   ishatuchema 'misfortune.' In either case, however the hamartia is
   also more laxly applied to an error due to unavoidable ignorance,
   for which error is unintentional; it arises from want of knowledge;
   and its good quality will depend on whether the individual is
   himself responsible for his ignorance. Distinct from this, but
   still limited in its reference to a single act, it is the moral
   hamartia proper, a fault or error where the act is conscious and
   intentional, but not deliberate. Such are acts committed in anger
   er passion. Lastly, the word may denote a defect of character,
   distinct on the one hand from an isolated error or fault, and, on
   the other, from the vice which has its seat in a depraved will.
   This use, though rarer, is still Aristotlean. Under this head would
   be included any human frailty or moral weakness, a flaw of
   character that is not tainted by a vicious purpose. In our passage
   there is much to be said in favour of the last sense, as it is here
   brought into relation with other words of purely moral
   significance, words moreover which describe not an isolated act,
   but a more permanent state. (1)

It is to the third kind of hamartia that Hamlet's crisis belongs. It may be noted that Bharata's concept of sapa (curse) and Abhinavagupta's interpretation of the same as asakya pratikara causing sorrow cover all the categories of hamartia.

However, Hamlet faces adversities to work out the appropriate remedy. He slowly inches his way towards his mission of taking revenge. This is a progress for the generation of vira rasa (heroism), although this vira rasa is clearly associated with bibhatsa (aversion) since Hamlet's motive for taking revenge though prompted by the Ghost, is stimulated by his disgust. In his determination to attain his goal of taking revenge, he deliberately assumes a pattern of confusing behaviour (madness in craft) whereas in reality he is extremely conscious of his own self, treading gingerly to attain a steady result. In my view there is no indecisiveness in his character, there is no helplessness in his consciousness. Only that he is not a man of hasty decision as is his counterpart, Othello. He is-a man of cool deliberation, showing stability of character. Step by step, he moves ahead.5 He has an ability to take advantage of even the adversities by transforming them suitably for the success of his purpose. His killing of Polonius is not at all a sign of melancholy or confusion. His comparison of the behaviour of Polonius with that of a rat (III iv: 23) is absolutely justified. He does it consciously although again by his craftiness, he begs apology from Laertes. An ideal example of his ability to transform disadvantages to advantages is his handling of Claudius' letter to the king of England.

Gradually he has been successful in generating vira rasa. He is really a vira (hero) in not murdering Claudius at his prayer as he says that by killing him during such an act, he would rather have immortalized him (sent him to the divine) instead of avenging him:
   Hamlet: Now might I do it pat, now is a-praying.
   And now I'll do't and so a goes to heaven;
   And so am I revenged. That would be scanned
   A villain kills my father, and for that
   I, his sole son, do this same villain send
   To heaven.

(III iii: 73-78)

Obviously with his heroic motive, he suppresses his passion for Ophelia He is not a dhiralalita (sensitive) character like Udayana in Svapnavasavaduttam who could sacrifice heroism for the sake of love. (2) A mixture of dhira-prasanta and dhirodatta (3) character, he acknowledges his love for Ophelia that is suppressed for the heroic purpose--"I did love you once" (III i: 116).

Here is a case where vira rasa (heroism) dominates over sriigara rasa (love) and though there is a scope for generation of karuna (sorrow) from vipralambha sriigara (love-in-separation), as it is mostly appreciated, in our view, this is only a secondary point of Hamlet's tragic ending, generating finally karuna rasa. In fact, Hamlet's failure in love is not at all a peripetia since he has deliberately suppressed it and this suppression is not at all causing any serious disappointment in Hamlet. As it appears, rather his affair with Ophelia, prior to his father's murder, to his mother's remarriage and to the Ghost's communication was a youthful occasion as it happens to a man before he enters the seriousness of life. But for that matter, it cannot be said that Hamlet is insensitive to love or passion. He certainly loved Ophelia seriously and would have been happy to have her, but as it happens, he doesn't mind seriously, if he suppresses this passion, ignores and neglects her for the time being. He could have rejected Ophelia meaning it to be a temporary suspension. Hamlet becomes aware of the realities of life only after the murder of his father and the events thereafter have stimulated in him an awareness of the complexities of life, and willingly, without any remorse he has tried to set aside his affair with Ophelia. This is precisely the reason for his disgust with the foolishness of Polonius, especially at a time when he is disturbed by the red signals of the complex cross roads of life which he considers more serious than indulging in youthful passion. Polonius foolishly assumes that Hamlet's involvement with Ophelia has upset his mental equilibrium. This is perhaps the reason for his utter disgust with Polonius. He smells a positive connivance between the king and Polonius. He is disappointed in Ophelia for being a slave to her father's will. Hamlet's apparently offensive behaviour to Ophelia reveals {dhvani) his disgust with the total situation. He is unable to express reasonably his love for Ophelia. It is but natural for a serious man of Hamlet's type to be disgusted with the nuptial bed in general as also with the women's race, which could so easily forget the tie with the first husband and readily opt for sharing the bed of the second husband. It is rather Ophelia who is melancholic or gullible in handing over Hamlet's letter to her father and losing patience in waiting for an appropriate opportunity to understand his behaviour. The Ghost is a symbol of the mysteries of life that life is not as it commonly appears; smooth sailing, easy going, lovely and desirable. Life is of course desirable, but desirable with the full knowledge of its complexities and not with any foolish assumptions. The Ghost reveals that {dhvani) everything in life cannot be interpreted in terms of empirical experience as Horatio speaks to Hamlet:
   There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio
   Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

(I v: 168-169)

Mysteries of life are always covered and to unravel the truth covered under day-to-day experiences one needs a supernatural insight. Krsna in the Gita calls this supernatural insight a divyacaksu or a divine sight when in spite of Krsna's revelation of his universal form, Arjuna fails to realize the truth. Krsna then endows him with a supernatural insight for visualizing the truth {Gita xi: 8). In the play, the Ghost functions in a similar manner. It is only Hamlet who perceives the truth whereas others fail. Hamlet is aware of this truth of life but Ophelia fails to cope with him.

Thus, as opposed to the view of S.C. Sengupta, my opinion is that, clearly intertwined with aversion (bibhatsa) is heroism (vira) and also figuring prominently is the emotion of sorrow or karuna rasa. Sengupta argues that while revenge is the purported theme of the play, the core subject is the utter revulsion caused by a mother's unchastity, which is revealed, to us through dhvani. Hamlet's disgust for his mother "also taints his attitude to others. He is full of derision for the foolish courtier Polonius, disloyal friends like Rosencrantz and Guildenster and the 'waterfly' Osric, to the extent that he equates Ophelia with Gertrude condemning the whole womankind to be unchaste. While denying Hamlet to be a melancholic cynic, Sengupta feels that Hamlet has nevertheless lost all interest in life when "man delights him not nor woman either." But that doesn't turn him into a melancholic man when he has the Renaissance hero's love for the good things of life, being physically and mentally agile and also full of moral idealism. Sengupta points out that on four occasions Hamlet acts swiftly and decisively. He successfully stages the play to test the truth of the Ghosts words; he kills Polonius; he outwits Claudius and gets Rosencrantz and Guildenstern executed in England and most importantly he slays Claudius at the end. According to Sengupta the killing of Polonius and Claudius are sporadic acts and are outlets for his repressed energies not surprising for a man poisoned by aversion. But the other two exploits of staging the play and foiling the king's plan of sending Hamlet to his death are the results of cool deliberation, and in both these cases his aversion is under a temporary eclipse. In producing the play he becomes his own self, returning to the creativity within him. Again while sailing off to England he escapes from the prison of Denmark and out of the mental state of aversion, which continues to oppress him in his home country.

Sengupta then proceeds to make a running survey of the whole play to discuss the tragedy of Hamlet and its root cause that he claims to be aversion. On encountering the Ghost in the first act Hamlet suddenly decides on assuming madness, which actually hinders his cause of revenge but enables him to express his disgust for life and the world outside. Hamlet's initial suspicion of the Ghost to be a goblin reflects the instability of a mind infected with aversion. In the second act, his aversion has deepened but he wakes up from his stupor and stages the play to test the king's conscience. The staging of the drama transports him to the world of imagination and the prospect of exposing Claudius invigorates him. This act also deals with his relation with Ophelia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. All three of them only serve to disappoint him further and thus become excitants or determinants (vibhavas) of his mental state of aversion. In the third act his pessimism is intensified which is noticed in his meditation--"To be or not to be" as also in his brutalities to Ophelia. In Act IV Hamlet's disgust with life is leading to a kind of philosophical detachment. For him death seems to be the only reality now and man exists just to be a food for worms. From this viewpoint the destiny of a king and that of a beggar are the same.

Sengupta finally dwells on two significant instances of dhvani worth noting in the play. Hamlet's avowal of his deep love for Ophelia being more than forty thousand brothers does not seem to be in tune with his harsh treatment of her in the earlier part of the play. According to Sengupta, the truth is that his berating of Ophelia is the result of his shattered image of ideal love caused by Gertrude and which Ophelia has done nothing to revive. It is because Hamlet loves her so intensely that he wants her to stay away from the corrupting influences of the outside world. Sengupta points out that Hamlet's chastisising of Ophelia is different from the ridicule he pours on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to whom he speaks with a distance. Another instance of dhvani lies in the gravediggers' scene. The clowns play at loggats with the bones of the dead, as they have no feeling of their business. The question is, points out Sengupta, did Hamlet himself have a feeling of his own business when his behaviour drove Ophelia to madness and death? This is the implicit irony in that scene.

Sengupta concludes that Hamlet is not a play about a mission delayed but about a complex state of mind predominated by aversion. He writes:
   Keeping as far as we can to the Indian system of criticism, we may
   say that in Hamlet, the predominant state is aversion (jugupsa),
   but it is strengthened and enriched by the mental states, and the
   total effect is not merely revolting (bibhatsa) but tragic--a
   concept for which there is nothing corresponding in Indian poetics.

But we argue that aversion (jugupsa) is not the single predominant emotion nor is bibhatsa the only primary rasa. (We use the term "emotion" to denote both rasa and its corresponding emotion bhava). Closely associated with bibhatsa (aversion) is vira rasa or heroism. The Ghost's communication arouses Hamlet's disgust for both the king and the queen and also a firm determination to take revenge upon the king by murdering him, the obvious sign of heroism in Hamlet. And karuna rasa or sorrow is unmistakably another central emotion. Sengupta's idea that the concept of tragedy is alien to the Indian dramatic tradition is undoubtedly true, but the absence of this concept in Indian tradition is not due to any aesthetic inadequacy, rather, significantly, due to the Indian worldview that, although suffering is an inevitable part of human life, the end is absolute bliss, that is, the very origin of life as a whole. The Upanisadic voice that "Life as a whole emerges from bliss, subsists in bliss and finally immerses into bliss" is the authority here.5 Death is therefore not a tragedy, particularly, the death of a hero in the battlefield leads to an elevated heavenly life. As the Gita says:
   Slain [in the battle-field], you will obtain heaven;
   Victorious you will enjoy the earth [worldly happiness].

(II: 37)

So, Hamlet, being slain in battle, is a real hero in the Sanskrit sense of the term vira (hero). Hamlet's death is certainly not caused due to any instability or weakness of character he suffers from. Like a true vira he is firm upon his decision and faces adversities like a true vira should face, finally accomplishing his mission of killing the king. His death can be compared with the Indian concept of viragati, i.e., the end of a true hero.

In the case of Hamlet, it is a dual victory. He doesn't elevate his enemy (Claudius) to get a divine status by slaying him at his prayer. At the right time he kills the king and takes appropriate revenge. And he is himself elevated to a higher kind of life--the life in death by being himself slain. He doesn't repent although Laertes repents and in the confession and repentance of Laertes, Hamlet's viragati is doubly asserted. Hamlet's success is therefore a double one--because he kills his enemy and regains the friendship of Laertes who regrets that being misguided by the villain, he has killed Hamlet. As Abhinavagupta writes, "heroism is the nature of persons with good qualities, enthusiasm of these good people is always delightful."6 He further observes that heroism is the effect of one's physical strength and commitment to moral principles such as control of sense organs and proper consideration of the legal instructions. Abhinavagupta cites the examples of Rama (in the epic Ramayana) and Udayana (in Svapnavasavadattam1) who had all these qualities in abundance. By virtue of their goodness they were also able to earn the goodwill and support of She public bureaucrats as well as politicians. They had great patience, tolerance, ability for sacrifice of the coveted things, attaining the goal of life and also appropriate skill for fighting in the battlefield. Considering these factors, Hamlet would be the most befitting character of this category. The best example for his control of sense organs is his suspension of his attachment or passion for Ophelia. At the same time, his patience for waiting for a proper occasion and opportunity to slay the king and his decision not to do it at his prayer are all coming under the qualities of a character of heroism that Abhinavagupta and Bharata (8) decide.

The vira rasa displayed in a dhiroddhata (the brave and haughty) character like Bhima in Venisamhara can be cited here. The play Venisamhara by Bhattanarayana (7th century A.D.), deals with the conflict for kingship between the two royal families of Hastinapur. In the first group are the Pandavas--Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. The other group who are the cousins of the Pandavas are called the Kauravas. They are a hundred brothers in all, the eldest being Duryodhana. Though Yudhisthira is crowned as the king of Hastinapur, Duryodhana considers himself to be the rightful heir. So he challenges Yudhisthira for a game of dice for which the latter has a passion. Using deceit, Duryodhana constantly defeats him in every round. In this bait, Yudhisthira starts losing all his property and his entire kingdom. Continuing to be goaded by Duryodhana's mocking challenges, he starts baiting his younger brothers, one after the other and finally his wife, Draupadi. This was Duryodhana's trump card as he had previously desired to marry Draupadi but had been rejected by her. In order to salvage his bruised ego, he takes up this opportunity to publicly humiliate Draupadi. So he orders his younger brother, who is the strongest among the Kauravas to fetch Draupadi from the inner chambers of the palace. Not taking heed of Draupadi's pleadings, he drags her by the hair from her chamber. Her long braid falls loose while she is being dragged. At Duryodhana's command, Duhaasana tries to undress her in the presence of others, but fails to do so due to Lord Krsna's benevolence on Draupadi. Not being able to swallow this humiliation, Draupadi pledges never to braid her hair again until it is washed with Duhsa Sana's blood. Bhima is the one most affected by this sight and swears to take revenge on Duhsasana for this vile deed.

The Pandavas are exiled for thirteen years at Duryodhana's command, after which they are supposed to get back their kingdom. But Duryodhana does not keep his promise and challenges them for a war. So a war is inevitable, which is called the battle of the Mahabharata. In this historic event, Bhima combats with Duhaasana who are considered equals in strength and mace fighting. After a long struggle Bhima finally succeeds in slaying Duhsasana. In order to keep his vow, he carries Duhsasana's blood and smears it on Draupadl's hair. Being thus pacified, Draupadi finally braids her hair. The agony of the Kauravas causes karunna rasa (sorrow).

Bhima's bravery and heroism have been much glorified by Bhattanarayana in this drama. It was only Bhima who had the courage to challenge Duhsasana who had no match and was considered invincible till then. Having captured Duhsasana he challenged all the heroes of the Kauravas to save Duhsasana from his clutch. This challenge that nobody is able to meet is expressive of vira rasa par excellence. In the final scene of Hamlet, although this kind of explosive heroism is not displayed, Hamlet's skilful operation in hitting Laertes as also the king is undoubtedly an ideal display of vira rasa. But vira rasa in its completeness is the absolute victory of the hero where he kills the enemy and remains invincible. Hamlet being slain in the drama concerned, the Sanskrit vira rasa is not accomplished ideally. This therefore results in karuna rasa. The situation can be fruitfully compared with the slaying of Abhimanyu in the battle of the Mahabharata. Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna, though only sixteen, was a skilled fighter as he had learnt the skill of the Chakravyuha (an infantry circle formed like a wheel) from his maternal uncle, Lord Krsna who had been narrating this skill to his sister Subhadra, while Abhimanyu was in her womb. Abhimanyu, having killed several heroes in the great battle, is killed treacherously the way not permitted by the laws of war, i.e., one warrior attacked by seven warriors at a time. Fighthing valiantly till his last breath he finally succumbs to the onslaught of his enemies. This display is undoubtedly heroic but causes karuna (sorrow) because of the death of the hero. The Bhagavad Gita says that a warrior doesn't die in the battlefield but is rather slain there having put up a valiant fight, and gets promoted to heaven (Gita ii: 32, 37). Nevertheless from an aesthetic point of view, this death doesn't save the occasion from pathos, particularly when a righteous warrior having killed several villains is finally himself slain, the result being the sorrow of the warrior's own kinsmen and the onlookers or public. In this instance, instead of vira rasa, it is karuna, which is finally stimulated. So also is the case of Hamlet. Hamlet kills the real villain, the king, and another righteous man Laertes behaving like a villain at the instigation of the real villain. But his own death predominates over vira rasa and results finally in karuna. Abhinavagupta writes that when "the adverse situation of a righteous man is seen or heard, it produces karuna rasa." (9) This adverse situation is explained as loss of wealth.... ending even in death. Thus the situation of Hamlet can appropriately be appreciated as a karuna rasa, vira rasa being hampered by his death. As the ending of each play is crucial for a final impression it wouldn't be contradictory to select karuna rasa to be the final predominating emotion.

The demerit of Hamlet in generating rasa is its mixing of several emotions in such a complex form that it puts the viewer in confusion as to the predominance of a particular emotion. There are fear, disgust, courage, and sorrow. Fear, though a secondary emotion in the play appears too frequently. A secondary emotion according to the rasa theorists should not gain much prominence. The other three rasas of disgust, courage and sorrow are produced in equal measures. So, the question as regards the predominance of one single emotion running throughout the play as stressed by the Sanskrit critics is open for debate. It is not a tragedy of a plain tragic structure. In the confusion of bibhatsa (disgust), vira (heroism) and karmia (sorrow), although karuna finally prevails, till the end, the spectator is put in confusion, as to the predominance of the rasa it purports to present.


Hamlet and the Dhvani Theory

Having thus considered the rasa structure of Hamlet, we proceed we analyse the dhvani structure of the play. Since the play ends in the experience of sorrow, it is karuna rasa which dominates it, owing to the death of the hero in the final scene. Nevertheless tire second dominating rasa, vira has played its role most effectively. Hamlet s heroism excels throughout and though karuna is generated by his death it is vira, which is sustained throughout, and the death of Hamlet rather elevates his heroism. This bright side of Hamlet in all respects of life is already revealed in Act I scene ii: 66-67. While the king apprehends a feeling of melancholy and weakness in Hamlet, the hero is bold enough to forecast his bright heroism:

King Claudius: How is it that the clouds still hang on you?

Hamlet Not so, my lord, I am too much I' th' sun.

Hamlet's confidence that he has no clouds around him, rather he is too much under the sun is a clear dhvani expression sufficiently meaningful for the audience that the aim and objective of the hero are quite dear. This technique of dhvani can be compared with the dhvani structure of the Ramayana. After cursing the hunter who had shot down the crane, sage Valmiki was still not relieved. The experience of sorrow loomed heavily upon him for quite a long time, until he was finally advised by the divine sage Narada to compose a poem on ari Ramachandra, the incarnation of Lord Visnu. Valmiki wrote a poem the principal rasa of which was karuna, though it was associated with vira due to the heroic adventures of the main character, Sri Rama. The event and the curse itself serve as a dhvani for the dominating rasa of the poem that the poet Valmiki had to compose. Similarly in Hamlet, the very speeches quoted above serve as a dhvani for the whole of the play. These two speeches in their tertiary or trancendental meaning or dhvani reveal that Hamlet is extremely self-conscious or aware, wise, confident and optimistic about his own existence and the course of action that he takes up for the future. But the king with his arrogance, hypocrisy and criminality is unable to understand him properly. Hamlet remains invincible throughout the play. In fact he suffers no defeat. Karuna arises due to the death of the hero that he has not deserved.

The second point of dhvani is Hamlet's encounter with the Ghost. In Act I scene v: line.4, Hamlet pities the Ghost, but the situation demands that he should actually pity his own self and this is the meaning, when the Ghost answers, "Pity me not...."
   Ghost: ...I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
   Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
   Make thy two eyes like stars start from their spheres,
   Thy knotty and combined locks to part,
   And each particular hair to stand on end
   Like quills upon the fretful porcupine.

(I. v: 15-20)

This speech of the Ghost is an example of dhvani for the dominating vira rasa running through the whole play. The Ghost encourages Hamlet as Lord Krsna encourages Arjuna in the battlefield of the Mahabharata. It is Hamlet's conscience and finally his guru to whom Hamlet surrenders as Arjuna surrenders to Lord Krsna uttering the words "O Lord Krsna, I am your disciple and you instruct me who has surrendered completely to you" (Gita ii: 7). The situation also reveals that human life is a battlefield and that each and every man is a hero to overcome the obstacles and adversities even at the cost of his life. He who does this always wins the battle either by dying or by surviving. Both ways he is a winner and a hero. In his heroic pattern of life, love appears only as a subsidiary one. In the heroic epics, it is love, which stimulates heroism. But in a drama where the essentials of life are represented, where the realities of human life are to be displayed, love is to be dominated over by the heroic purposes of life. It is not that a hero has no passion or love and that he is insensitive to love, but the truth is that for a hero fighting in the battlefield of life, love appears to be a secondary emotion, heroism being primary in his character. Thus, the realistic epic of the Mahabharata poses love as a secondary emotion, heroism being the primary. And Lord Krsna pleads for this domination of heroism in the Bhagavad Gita. A man is to be active all through, never inactive, irrespective of his success or failure in life. Lord Krsna specifies the qualities of a sattvic karta or that an ideal hero (doer) is always free from attachment to the result'of his action, indifferent to success and to failure, without any sense of arrogance and always with patience and enthusiasm (Gita xviii: 26). Thus Hamlet's main aim is to accomplish the action and like the true disciple of Lord Krsna. he never suffers from inertia although only apparently he criticizes himself in the two soliloquies quoted earlier.

A hero's suspension of the passion of love for the sake of his heroic achievement is revealed in his attitude to Ophelia. Polonius' conjecture that Hamlet is mad in love is a dhvani of his own insanity only. When he utters, "that he is mad,'t is true, 'tis true'tis pity; And pity 'tis'tis true," (II ii: 98-99) the audience is clearly pitying Polonius himself. The irony of Polonius' speech is only applicable to himself, not to Hamlet at all. Polonius' pitiful situation is revealed in several speeches between Hamlet and Polonius (II ii: 182-183). For example:
   Hamlet: For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a good
   kissing carrion--have you a daughter?

The primary or superficial (denotational) meaning of this speech is carrion, a carcass. The secondary meaning referred to (lakshyartha) is live flesh and especially flesh contemptuously regarded as available for sexual pleasure. The third or tertiary meaning (dhvani) means Ophelia and what may happen to her, i.e., if Ophelia's love is going to be fruitless. And perhaps also Shakespeare wants to say that Ophelia will end up as a carcass by dying ultimately:

Hamlet: Let her not walk I 'th' sun. Conception is a blessing, but not as your daughter may conceive. Friend, look to 't.

(II ii: 185-186)

Further in Hamlet's speech he asks Ophelia to be kept out of the sun in its literal (primary) sense. In its secondary meaning, laksyartha, she is to be kept out of public view and the third meaning or dhvani is that Ophelia is to be kept away from Hamlet. In the famous soliloquy, "To be or not to be..." Hamlet prefers suffering to death implying his preference to heroism and suffering of any kind whatsoever it may be--obviously suffering even due to reflection of love, "The pangs of disprized love..." (III i: 74).

Finally coming to his encounter with Ophelia, his apparent misbehaviour with her is an ambivalent gesture implying his disgust with his mother as representing the whole race of women including Ophelia. His address to Ophelia embedded with harsh and offensive abuses like "Get thee to a nunnery" (III i: 122-130) etc. has been interpreted variously by the critics. It certainly puts the audience to a confusion regarding the sincerity of Hamlet's love for Ophelia, who takes his offensive behaviour literally and feels terribly hurt and disappointed, a situation which finally leads her to suicide. Thomas S. Eliot's famous objection that Shakespeare was unable to find a proper objective correlative for an expression of disgust has been analysed by Ananta C. Sukla in a strong defensive argument. (10) He thinks that Hamlet's unpalatable behaviour with Ophelia is a category of rasa-dhvani, which reveals his love for her. (11) His behaviour or anubhava actually reveals (dhvani) his love for Ophelia. Hamlet is no doubt filled with an utter disgust for women in general. He has also expressed this in his behaviour with Gertrude, but the difference is that; his anubhava is literal (abhidha) in the case of Gertrude in such instances like:
   Hamlet: Such an act
   That blurs the grace and blush of modesty...

(III iv: 40)


Hamlet: Frailty, thy name is woman...

(I ii:146)

Contrastingly his behaviour with Ophelia is of a dhvani category. Sukla suggests that the harsh and offensive words used by Hamlet for Ophelia reveal his love for her, rather than his disgust with her. Hamlet is not disgusted with Ophelia directly as he is with Gertrude. Since he is constrained in expressing his agony and anguish before everybody other than his mother, he tacitly accepts Ophelia as the only other person before whom he should express himself. Thus, concludes Sukla, this apparent misbehaviour with Ophelia reveals his love for her and sriigara rasa (love) is revealed by this dhvani technique. This is an instance of rasa-dhvani. Sukla gives the simplest example of a similar situation from common life. Children's anger and defiance with the mother are only indicative of their love for her and not real anger or disgust. It is only with a person of one's sincere love and intimacy that one expresses one's anguish. Following Sukla's line of thought one can argue that when Hamlet fails to accept Gertrude who is the right person before whom he could express his agony, since she is the culprit herself in joining hands with his father's murderer, it is impossible on his part to accept her as an intimate partner for sharing his grief. The only alternative partner is obviously Ophelia. Hamlet's behaviour being poetically most appropriate, it is Ophelia's lack of sensibility that she fails to appreciate Hamlet's predicament However, Hamlet's love for Ophelia is beyond any doubt. And thus she speaks, "Fare you well, my dove" (TV v: 166). Dove (perhaps referring to Hamlet) being the symbol of the Holy Spirit is the dhvani expression for the sacredness of love, a case of dhvani based on laksana (metaphor).

A closely parallel idea is to be found in Peter Alexander's Shakespeare's Life and Art where he quotes Charles Lamb's justification of Hamlet's apparent cruelty to the innocent Ophelia:
   The truth is, that in all such deep affections as had subsisted
   between Hamlet and Ophelia, there is a stock of supererogarory
   love, (if I may venture to use die expression) which in any great
   grief of heart, especially where that which preys upon the mind
   cannot be communicated, confers a kind of indulgence upon the
   grieved party to express itself, even to its hearth dearest object,
   in the language of temporary alienation. (12)

Alexander again quotes Samuel Taylor Coleridge who echoes a similar thought when he says that "he [Hamlet] at last must need express his love's excess with words of unmeant bitterness." (13)

After Ophelia's sorrowful death Hamlet's intuitive speech is of ironical strength:

Hamlet: We defy augury. There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all. Since no man, has aught of what he leaves, what is't to leave betimes?

(V ii: 157-161)

The hero is prepared for any eventuality. The realization and conviction of Hamlet can be compared to Krsna's instructions that a hero should never fear death as fighting against evil is the noblest deed of a hero; the phenomenal success and failure are all the same. A heroic death is as good as a heavenly existence. Therefore a hero should fight for the sake of fighting.

From the above discussion, it is clear that the eventual outcome of the dramatic spectacle is rasa. The rasa produced can be dependent on several factors. One means of producing rasa is dhvani, but dhvani appeals only to a higher sensibility and may be lost to some While being a powerlul potent in producing rasa, dhvani may not necessarily create the desired effect as it may fail to reach all levels of the audience. If dhvani remains unrevealed in the dialogues, the resulting rasa may be totally different from the same dialogue where dhvani gets revealed. So dhvani might play a vital role in determining the rasa produced. Much also depends on the mind conditioning and thought process of the viewers. This is where the Bhagavad Gita comes in playing a relatively important role in creating rasa in the (Indian) audience. The Gita interpretation is not a dramaturgical interpretation but might be relevant in determining the nature of the rasa produced. Like the Bhagavad Gita there could be numerous other influencing factors depending on the socio-cultural background of an individual. Again, the rasa produced could vary from individual to individual depending on his or her personal experience and mode of thinking. So while it is possible sometimes to determine and generalise the rasas, in many cases they could widely differ depending on one's individual character, perspective and socio-cultural environment.

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University of Basel

Basel, Switzerland

Notes and References

* The present paper forms a part of the doctoral dissertation entitled The Indian Response to Hamlet: Shakespeare's Reception in India and a Study of Hamlet in Sanskrit Poetics, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland. The author is grateful to Professor Balz Engler of the University of Basel (Switzerland) and Ananta Ch. Sukla of Sambalpur University (India) for their supervision of this doctoral dissertation, and to the authorities of the University of Basel for their permission to publish this part of the dissertation.

(1) S. H. Butcher, Aristotle's Theory of Poetry and Fine Art, 317-318.

(2) Svapnavasavadattam or The Vision of Vasavadatta is the most respected of Bhasa's (2nd century B.C ?.) plays. It tells of king Udayana, a ruler who is pressured by his minister of state to marry the daughter of a powerful ruler in order to strengthen his reign and protect his kingdom. The king however, is too devoted to his wife to consider such a marriage. But the queen is ready to sacrifice her happiness to save the kingdom.

(3) Sanskrit Poetics gives us altogether forty-eight subdivisions of the hero which can be rearranged into four types viz. (i) the brave and the high spirited (dhirodatta) (ii) the brave and haughty (dhirodhata) (iii) the brave and sportive (dhiralalita) (iv) the brave and serene (dhira-prasanta).

(4) S. C. Sengupta, Aspects of Shakespearian Tragedy, 158.

(5) Taittriya Upanisad, section Upanisad Anka, Kalyan Magazine, vol. 23, 354.

(6) Visheshwara Siddhanta Siromani, trans., Abhinavabharati, 593-596.

(7) Svapnavasavadattam or The Vision of Vasavadatta is the most respected of Bhasa's (2nd century B.C.?) plays. It tells of king Udayana, a ruler who is pressured by his minister of state to marry the daughter of a powerful ruler in order to strengthen his reign and protect his kingdom. The king however, is too devoted to his wife to consider such a marriage. But the queen ready to sacrifice her happiness to save the kingdom, stages her death in a palace fire, then secretly returns to wait upon the new queen and be near her husband

(8) Abhinavagupta is the commentator of Bharata's Nalysastra.

(9) Visheshwara Siddhanta Siromani, trans., Abhinavabharati, 578-582.

(10) T.S Eliot "Hamlet and his Problems," The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism, 95-103.

(11) A. C. Sukla. "Theory of Impersonal Art," Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics. 69-79

(12) Charles Lamb, On the Tragedies of Shakespeare, n.p.. as quoted in Peter Alexander, Shakespeare's Life and Art, 154-155.

(13) As quoted in Peter Alexander, Shakespeare 's Life and Art, 155.
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Author:Mohanty, Sangeeta
Publication:Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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