The courtier’s, soldier’s scholar’s eye, tongue, sword;
Th’expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,
Th’observ’d of all observers”¦
(Shakespeare, Hamlet, III, 1)
The short passage given above refers to the main character of the play, Hamlet. The author gives brief but very precise and picturesque depiction of the prince as a ruler. To put it more precisely, William Shakespeare attempts to demonstrate the perception of Hamlet as a monarch by his people. Basically, it should be said that the passage, being quite brief, gives ample characteristic of Hamlet and it is very important to underline that the author tend to certain idealization of the main character that may be easily traced in this passage.
In fact, William Shakespeare provides the main character with practically all qualities that an ideal monarch could possess. He characterizes Hamlet as a person that combines the qualities which are of a paramount importance for a person that occupies the high social position, such as the monarch. For instance, the first line reveals that Hamlet combines such qualities as nobility, power, and wisdom. Apparently Shakespeare’s references to the courtier’s indicates to the aristocratic origin and manners of the main character, while soldier’s reveals the power of Hamlet, which may be not only physical or external, but also spiritual or internal, while scholar’s is an apparent indication to the power of Hamlet’s intellect, his wisdom and this quality is probably one of the most important for a monarch. At the same time, the second part of the first line emphasizes the positive qualities of Hamlet. In fact, eye stands for attention, ability to see probably more than other people; tongue is apparently the indication to his eloquence and power of his speeches as well as it may be viewed as a symbol of his ability to easily communicate with his people; finally, sword is a traditional symbol of power and strength, while in regard to the monarch power, sword may be viewed as the military strength of the prince or, at least, that he is the great warrior.
In such a way, the author uses similes in first line to give the characteristic of the main character since his personal characteristics are compared to those of courtier, soldier and scholar. At the same time, the reference to eye, tongue and sword, may be viewed as metaphoric since they are traditionally used as symbols emphasizing such qualities as attention, eloquence and power.
On the other hand, William Shakespeare manages to demonstrate the attitude of people to Hamlet as a ruler. He uses symbols and metaphors to show how people actually perceive the Prince. For instance, “Th’expectancy and rose of fair state”¯ indicates that people have a positive attitude to the Prince and expect that he will be a good ruler since fair state is traditionally the ideal state where the ruler meets the expectations of his people, while Hamlet is not only “expectancy”¯ but he is also the “rose”¯ of this “fair state”¯ that means that he is worth of admiration of his people, though rose may be viewed as a dubious symbol which emphasizes not only his positive characteristics and beauty, a traditional implication of rose, as a ruler, but also his strength and ability to defend himself and his country, since rose has thorns
At the same time, Hamlet as an ideal for his people since he is “the glass of fashion”¯ that metaphorically indicates to his tastes as well as “the mould of form, which fulfils the same function. Finally, Hamlet is shown as open and responsible leader since he is observed of all observers that means that his people can control him and he does not attempt to hide his intentions from his people.