Monday, September 12, 2011

"What is this quintessence of dust?"

"And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?" This question, posed by Hamlet in Act 2, scene 2 to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern suggests a thought that pervades human history. First, we should figure out exactly what this all means. The dictionary states that quintessence is "the most perfect embodiment of something." So, Hamlet is comparing life to dust, and therefore wondering if there is any value in life if it is just dust. If we just live and die, and return to the earth as dust, then why live at all?

This theme of dust reminds me of King Benjamin's address in the Book of Mormon. It is a very powerful and well known section in Mosiah about humankind being "less than the dust of the earth." He shows his people, and us, that we need Jesus Christ's Atonement in order to become better than the "natural man" who is "less than the dust of the earth." However, Hamlet takes this idea of being dust in the completely opposite direction. This is where the missionaries should come in and say, "Yes, you are humble, yes humankind is carnal, sensual and devilish. Here is a message we have about Jesus Christ and His Atonement."

I like studying at BYU because we can find gospel corollaries and share them freely in an academic setting.

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