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  Tips for Writers by Brad Hyde (October 1, 2006)

How We See Things; Following Shakespeare's Example



In the excerpt below from Shakespeare's great play, Hamlet, a discussion ensues about whether Hamlet is correct to call his country a "prison." His friend Rosencrantz disagrees (using "we" to include Guildenstern's opinion). To this Hamlet responds with "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

How we choose to see something makes a great difference to how we respond to it and how we might describe it in writing. A writer needs to be aware of his or her own prejudices (how "thinking makes it so") and, of course, must know well the prejudices of others.

Knowing how things are seen will help you become a better writer and will thus help you to connect to your audience.


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

ROSENCRANTZ: We think not so, my lord.

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


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