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Importance of art in Hamlet and Song of Solomon

Comparative Essay About The Use Of Art In Toni Morrison & Shakespeare

Importance of art in Hamlet and Song of Solomon

Oscar Wilde once said, “All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril”. In both, Shakespeare’s, Hamlet, and Morrison's, Song of Solomon, art plays a significant role in revealing a deeper message than just the writer’s craft on the surface. The use of song in Morison’s writing and the use of drama in Shakespeare’s play, reveals certain characters, provide insight by foreshadowing, and themes.

In both pieces, art reveals certain characters in a new light, rather than what they appear to be at first. The use of art in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon is just simply a song of African origin on the surface, however, it plays a much more powerful role within the novel. The song, “Sugarman done fly…”(6) reveals the depth of the mythical character within Pilate. The use of the song when Milkman is born, which is ironically sung by Pilate, and the use of the same song at Pilate’s death, which is then sung by Milkman at the end of his journey, shows the power of Milkman’s acceptance into his African heritage. Morrison reveals the importance of song through Pilate because Pilate can relate to it through her ties to her family, who were slaves in the nineteenth century, and the significance of her own character. Much like Morrison, Shakespeare uses art to reveal the character of Claudius. Hamlet conspires a play to reveal the murder of his father, who was killed by Claudius, in front of the royal court. Claudius instantaneously reacts erratically to the play, therefore revealing his guilt and shameful ways to become king. Drama is used to invoke powerful emotions that can only be brought to the surface when a scene involves parallels within the viewers life, “My [Claudius] stronger guilt defeats my strong intent”(3.3.43), as Claudius simply stated. Art not only further reveals the characteristics of the protagonist; it also reveals the characteristics of other characters involved within the plot. Morrison does this by showing how song affects Milkman, and his father Macon Dead. The “Sugarman”(6) song shows the realization of love and contentment Pilate provided within Milkman’s life, and his pride to be African American. Macon Dead’s reaction to song was quite powerful as well. “Surrendering to the sound…(he) relished...

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Category:   Hamlet

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