Themes in hamlet

6 June 2016

Impossibility of Certainty and Delay of Action Hamlet undoubtedly takes a long time to avenge his father’s murder, and his hesitation is his tragic flaw. He spends a great deal of effort thinking and analyzing and far less acting on his dead father’s request for revenge. Hamlet’s delay of action is a direct result of his attempts to obtain more certain knowledge about what he needs to do as well as the circumstances of his father’s death. However, had he not taken so long, the play would not have been – indeed, it relies upon Hamlet’s hesitation.

Revenge There are at least three instances of characters seeking revenge in the play. Young Fortinbras seeks revenge against Denmark because Old King Hamlet killed his father and took his father’s lands. Hamlet wants revenge against Claudius for his own father’s murder. Laertes wants revenge against Hamlet for killing his father, Polonius.

Themes in hamlet Essay Example

Deception The characters in the play demonstrate several acts of deception. King Claudius hides the fact that he murdered his brother, King Hamlet. Hamlet conceals his knowledge of the murder and he also conceals his sanity. In fact, a lot of the play depends on Hamlet’s “antic disposition.” Polonius hides his loyalty to King Claudius and spies on Hamlet. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern pretend to be loyal to Hamlet, but are actually in liege with King Claudius. Near the end of the play, Gertrude hides her knowledge of Hamlet’s antic disposition.

Theater vs. Life This play is about acting: Hamlet acts insane, Claudius pretends to be a legitimate and sincere king, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern portray themselves as loyal friends to Hamlet. The turning point in the play relies upon the play-within-a-play. There is a question of the idea of appearance vs. reality and whether people are being honest or performing for some other benefit.

The Mystery of Death The idea of death is closely tied to the motifs of spirituality, truth, and uncertainty as death may bring answers to Hamlet’s uncertainty. Since death is both the cause and consequence of revenge, it is also tied to the theme of revenge. Hamlet is obsessed with death and considers many perspectives of death throughout the play. He ponders the spiritual aftermath of death (from the ghost of his father) and the physical aftermath of death (in the corpses and Yorick’s skull). Hamlet contemplates his own death: is suicide morally legitimate in an unbearably painful world? Hamlet wants to die to end his pain; however he is afraid of the moral consequences of killing himself.

The Nation as a Diseased Body Throughout the play, there is a connection between the welfare of the royal family and the health of the state. In the early scenes of the play, there is a sense of anxiety and dread surrounding the transfer of power from one ruler to the next. If the state of Denmark is a body and the king is the head of that body, and if the king is murdered, what does that mean for the health of the nation/body? Moreover, if the new king is a corrupted murderer, then the wellbeing of the state of Denmark is further compromised. Denmark may be seen as a physical body made ill by the moral corruption of King Claudius and Queen Gertrude. Hence, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

Loyalty Despite the many instances of distrust and deception, some characters remain true and constant. Hamlet is forever loyal to his father. Even before learning of his father’s murder, he mourned him grievously. Laertes is loyal to Ophelia and Polonius. Horatio remains loyal to Hamlet throughout the play. Interestingly, Gertrude is torn between her loyalty to Claudius and her loyalty to Hamlet. However, she keeps her loyalty to Hamlet in the end by maintaining her promise to hide his antic disposition. Hamlet: Characters

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