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Hamlet Essay

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Below is an essay on "Hamlet" from Anti Essays, your source for research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

Philosophers and intellectuals have examined man�s status as a social being in every era of human history. The three strongest stances on this issue � each overlapping one another to some extent � generated from the Renaissance era, over four hundred years ago. The first viewpoint, proposed by John Locke, was that humans were innately good, and that all humans, through sacrificing some of his individuality to a collective unit of humans called �society�, would gain by moving forward together. The second viewpoint, proposed by Thomas Hobbes, concurs with Locke that man�s ideal position is within a society; however, Hobbes argued that humans are essentially evil and that civilization restrains humans from their primitive urges. The third viewpoint � and that most pertinent to Joseph Heller�s Catch-22 � was championed by Jean-Paul Rousseau. He agreed with Locke that man was essentially good (thereby disagreeing with Hobbes), and he agreed with Hobbes that society restrains humans from their natural state. However, the natural state Rousseau refers to is the ideal state of man � unrestrained by society, free to do whatever he wishes. In this sense, he disagrees with Locke that sacrificing to the collective results in an advancement of mankind, and founds his own brand of individualism that focuses on man apart from society as man is meant to be. This theme is also central to Catch-22, as Heller asserts man can only save himself from the fetters of society by refusing its dominance over the self. In the novel Catch-22, Yossarian � the protagonist � is a lead bombardier during WWII in the U.S. Air Force in Italy determined to stay alive. Their base in fictitious Pianosa and the military bureaucracy that runs it becomes a metaphor for what Heller considers a dangerously collectivist society. In Catch-22, Yossarian struggles to preserve himself and his sanity in the face of an absurd world...

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