Hamlet Research Paper


Hamlet Research Paper Essay, Research Paper

Hamlet Research paper

In the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare Two of the character’s

fathers are brutishly murdered. The first murdered character is King

Hamlet who is supposed to be revenge by his son prince Hamlet. The

second murder is Polonius who is supposed to be revenged by his son

Laertes. Both Prince Hamlet and Laertes go to seek revenge for the

death of fathers, however they will each use different methods to

accomplish their deeds.

Prince Hamlet has a meeting with the dead ghost of his father King

Hamlet. King Hamlet’s ghost reveals to his son, his murder by his

brother Claudius. Hamlet is informed by his father that he needs to be

avenged by the death of his brother Claudius. By this time Claudius has

already ascended the throne, and married Hamlet’s mother Queen

Gertrude. Hamlet decides to take a passive approach to avenge his

father. Hamlet first decides to act abnormal which does not accomplish

much besides warning his uncle that he might know he killed his father.

Later in the play a troop of actors come to act out a play, and Hamlet

has them reenact the murder of is father in front of his uncle

Claudius. The actors murder scene also make Hamlet question himself

about the fact that he has done nothing yet to avenge his father. Hamlet

says ‘ But am I Pigeon-livered and lack gall To make oppression

bitter, or ere this I should ha’ fatted all the region kites With

this slave’s offal. Bloody, bawdy villain! ( Act II scene 2 page 84

line 577- 580 ). During the play Hamlet watches is uncle Claudius to

see his reaction when the actors perform the murder scene. Hamlet plan

works his uncle throws a fit and runs out the room, where Hamlet goes

after him. When Hamlet catches up to his uncle his uncle is kneeling

down praying, and Hamlet pulls out his sword and gets ready to kill

him. But all the sudden Hamlet changes his mind because if he kills his

uncle while he’s praying he will go to heaven, and Hamlet wants him to

go to hell. So hamlet postpones the execution of his uncle. The next

confrontation does not happen till the end of the book when Hamlet

escapes from his uncle’s ill murder attempt on his life. Hamlet later

sword fences with Laertes. All the sudden Hamlet’s mother Queen

Gertrude drinks a poison glass intended for Hamlet. When Hamlet is not

looking Laertes stabs him with a poison sword then Hamlet takes hold of

the poisoned sword, and stabs Laertes with it. As this happens Queen

Gertrude dies from the poison drink. As Laertes lays down dying he

reveals to Hamlet that his uncle King Claudius was behind it all, the

poisoned sword and drink that has just killed his mother. Hamlet then in

a fit of rage runs his uncle through with the poison sword. Hamlet has

now finally revenged his father through much time then after his task is

completed he finally collapses from the poison on the sword.

Polonius is murdered by Hamlet when Polonius his discovered listening to Hamlet, and his mother’s Queen Gertrude conversation . Hamlet unknowing of who the person behind the tapestry is, kills Polonius from where he was spying. When news of his fathers death reaches Polonius’s son Laertes, he comes back with an entourage to seek revenge for his fathers death. In this conversation Laertes believes Hamlets uncle King Claudius is responsible for his fathers death. ‘ How came he dead?

I’ll not be juggled with. To hell, allegiance! Vows, to the blackest

devil! Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit! I dare

damnation. To this point I stand, That both the worlds I give to

negligence, Let come what comes, only I’ll be revenged Most

thoroughly for my father. ( Act IV scene 5 page 134 line 133-139 )

Laertes takes a more aggressive stand point than Hamlet Laertes is

ready to kill the king right away thinking that he murdered his father.

But king Claudius tells Laertes that Hamlet is the one who killed his

father. King Claudius also finds out that Hamlet has escape the trap

that he setup to get him murdered. So King Claudius sets up another

plan with Laertes. This plan calls for Hamlet and Laertes to have a

mock sword fight, but Laertes will be using a real poisoned sword.

Laertes agrees with this, ready to claim Hamlets life for his father’s

vile murder. When the sword fight begins Hamlet is winning, but Laertes gets frustrated and stabs Hamlet when he is not looking with the

poisoned sword. After Laertes stabs Hamlet, Hamlet then turns around

and manages to take the sword from Laertes and stabs Laertes with it.

Although Laertes dies first he accomplishes his purpose because Hamlet

will die shortly from the poison on the sword.

In this play Hamlet by William Shakespeare these two characters Hamlet and Laertes both seek to revenged their slayed fathers. Hamlet with is passive and scheming approach manages to kill his father’s murder his uncle Claudius. Laertes with his direct, and forceful dedication slays

his fathers killer Prince Hamlet. Although Laertes took a much more

direct approach than Hamlet wasting no time, they both however

accomplished their goal but at the ultimate price of both their lives!

In William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, the concept of cultural identity is explored through Hamlet’s isolation which is created by the conflict between his duty to his father, and his duties to the monarchy and society. Hamlet is isolated from his society due to his turbulent emotions which result from his indecision on how to respond to his father’s murder. Hamlet’s duty as a son is to avenge his father’s death and he would be supported in his actions by society if the murderer was believed to be guilty.

Hamlet’s duty as a citizen and a Prince is to protect the King and to ensure stability in the monarchy. In order for Hamlet to revenge his father he would have to kill the King which creates a conflict between his two primary duties. Because of this, Hamlet finds it difficult to decide how to proceed and which duty takes precedence, and Hamlet decides to gather evidence as proof of Claudius’ guilt so that his revenge is justified to society and to himself.

The unholiness of murdering a king who is also a close relative is highlighted by Claudius and this allows the audience to better understand the conflict and the indecision facing Hamlet. Hamlet’s duty as a son, in his social context and circumstances, is one which encourages him to seek revenge for his murdered father. For Hamlet to be perceived as a noble and worthy son, he would have to kill his father’s murderer, and his actions would be supported by society as long as the murderer was believed to be guilty. In Hamlet’s first soliloquy after the encounter with the ghost early in the play, when the ghost tells him that he must seek revenge, Hamlet quickly acknowledges his duty as a son.

Hamlet: I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records, All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past. And thy commandment all alone shall live Within the book and volume of my brain, Unmixed with baser matter. Hamlet seems to decide with determination that he will ‘wipe away’ all of his memories of ‘youth’, and all ‘past pressures’ so that the ghost’s ‘commandment’ to seek revenge would be his only focus, without the distraction of ‘baser matter’. Hamlet’s duty as a son is shown clearly at this point where he accepts the ghost’s words, be it from fear or loyalty, and he appears to decide that he must fulfill his duty and kill Claudius. If he were to do otherwise, Hamlet knows that the values he believes in, and therefore the values of the society which raised him, would not permit him to live as a noble and worthy son and citizen. Hamlet’s duty to the monarchy and his role in society are in direct conflict with his duty as a son. Hamlet’s duty to the monarchy is to protect the King and Hamlet’s role in society as a Prince is to show leadership, live an honorable life and ensure stability in the kingdom. It is socially expected of Hamlet to protect the King and his position as Prince determines his need to obey society’s moral values to remain a noble and worthy person. A direct conflict would occur if Hamlet were to kill Claudius because he would fulfill his duties as a son but society would view his actions as betraying the society and the monarchy. He would be acting against his own socially enforced values and in the opinion of society, and perhaps in his own mind, he would be committing the highest act of treachery. This is very important with respect to Hamlet’s indecision and resulting isolation since his duty to the monarchy and to society is in direct conflict with his duty to his dead father. Society’s view of murdering a king as the most sacrilegious crime of all is illustrated by Claudius when he reflects on his own actions in killing his brother, King Hamlet. An understanding of the conflict facing Hamlet that leads to his isolation occurs because there is a direct link between Claudius’ murder of King Hamlet and Hamlet’s planned murder of Claudius. In both situations, a man kills a king, who is also a close relative, albeit for different reasons.

This intensifies the moral dilemma and horror concerning these murders. Claudius highlights the ‘unholiness’ of these crimes in his first private speech: King: O, my offense is rank. It smells to heaven. It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t, A brother’s murder. Pray can I not, Though inclination be as sharp as will. My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent. Claudius is unable to pray even though his ‘inclination’ is ‘as sharp as will’, and his determination is overpowered by his ’stronger guilt’ which defeats his ’strong intent’ to find peace with God. This illustrates society’s view of this crime as being unholy. The horror of murdering a brother is emphasized by Claudius who describes the offense as ‘rank’ and as having ‘the primal eldest curse upon’t’. He means that this is the oldest curse placed upon humanity. This links with Hamlet’s planned murder of Claudius which would also have the eldest curse’ upon it since he would be killing his uncle. Through Claudius’ words this society’s views on murdering a king and a close relative become clear, and this leads to a better understanding of the conflict facing Hamlet and of his hesitation to act, which ultimately leads to his isolation and death.

Hamlet’s uncertainty concerning Claudius’ guilt and the importance he places on gathering evidence against Claudius is illustrated by Hamlet when he plans to organize a trap for the king in his soliloquy at the end of Act II. Hamlet knows that society would not tolerate him murdering Claudius as an act of revenge if there was no evidence to prove that Claudius killed Hamlet’s father. Hamlet realizes that the only proof he has of Claudius’ guilt is the words of the ghost who cannot be relied upon to appear to justify Hamlet’s actions. He also needs to be sure of Claudius’ guilt to reassure himself that what he is doing is right. Hamlet: I’ll have the grounds More relative than this, The play’s the thing Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King. (III.2.601-end) The ‘grounds more relative than this’ which Hamlet refers to are primarily the ghost’s promptings for Hamlet to seek revenge. Hamlet decides that he needs ‘more relative’ evidence, such as Claudius’ reaction at the play, and he emphasizes this by using a rhyming couplet to end Act II. An important part of Hamlet’s revenge is for Claudius to be perceived as the killer he really is. Even though Hamlet uses the lack of evidence to justify his own previous inaction in this soliloquy, he also realizes that he needs proof for society to believe that Claudius is guilty in order to keep his status as a noble Prince. Hamlet’s plan to use Horatio as a witness to any possible reaction the King may have shows Hamlet’s awareness that proof will be necessary to justify his revenge on Claudius and shows his desire for Claudius’ crimes to be made public.

Hamlet knows that if he were to kill Claudius as an act of revenge, he would need society and the members of the court to question Claudius’ innocence. Hamlet also needs to be sure that he is right in seeking revenge and if he could prove Claudius’ guilt, Hamlet’s revenge would not be treated as treason as it would be if Claudius was perceived as innocent. Hamlet: There is a play tonight before the King. I prithee.Observe my uncle. And after we will both our judgments join In censure of his seeming. The honest relationship which Hamlet has had with his friend Horatio is emphasized by Hamlet’s apparent sincerity in asking Horatio to observe Claudius when he is confronted with the play. Hamlet believes that he can trust Horatio, and probably only him, to be honest and accurate in his observations. Hamlet’s plan for after the play is clearly defined in this extract when he suggests to Horatio that they should both their judgments join in censure of his seeming’. He means that they should combine their judgments of Claudius’ outward appearance which could provide proof of his guilt and undermine his status in society. If Hamlet could indeed prove Claudius guilt then he could proceed with his plan for revenge and , eventually, be at peace with himself. Hamlet does get his revenge on Claudius in the end but he falls victim to Claudius’ treachery. His revenge however is justified and he asks Horatio to report his ’cause to the unsatisfied so that society accepts Hamlet’s actions and death as noble, and Claudius life and death as dishonorable. Hamlet’s isolation occurs in this play because of his constantly changing emotions, which are caused, among other things, by his conflicting duties. Hamlet’s uncertainty of how to proceed after his encounter with the ghost provides the basis of the cause of his turbulent emotions. Frequently in the play Hamlet feels depressed about his previous inaction in not obeying the ghost’s commandment. Because of his conflicting duties Hamlet is uncertain how to proceed with the immediate future and his emotional turmoil does nothing to boost his confidence and self-respect.

The social expectations of him in his role as a noble son and his role as a worthy Prince cause Hamlet to feel turbulent emotions throughout the play. His indecision causes him to withdraw from society because of how he tries to come to terms with the situation. On one hand his adoption of an antic disposition creates an impression of him being mad and therefore he is isolated from society, and on the other hand the confusion he feels results in him withdrawing so as to not show his shame and anger to others. The differing values which he upholds and which society expects him to uphold lead to his isolation and eventual death which is a result of his futile attempt to achieve revenge in a manner with which he is comfortable. In William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, cultural identity is explored through Hamlet’s isolation which results from the indecision he feels. Hamlet’s indecision results from his conflicting duties as a son and as a Prince and citizen. His duty as a son is to avenge his father s murder and kill Claudius, but his duty as a Prince and a citizen is to protect the King and ensure stability in the monarchy. In order for Hamlet s revenge to be justified to society and to himself, Claudius guilt must be proven. Hamlet decides to attempt to gather evidence against Claudius so that Hamlet s actions are regarded as being honorable, and so that he can come to terms with his revenge. The unholiness of killing a king and a close relative is highlighted by Claudius when he reflects on his own crime of killing King Hamlet.

Through this, a deeper understanding of the conflict facing Hamlet and of his turbulent emotions occurs. Hamlet dies at the end, fulfilling his duty as a son and his duty to society, by purging the corrupt from the monarchy and avenging his father s death.

Works Cited :

1. Cahn, Victor L. Shakespeare the Playwright: A Companion to the

Complete Tragedies, Histories, and Romances. New York: Greenwood

Press, 1991.

2.Knight, L. C. Some Shakespeare Themes & An Approach to Hamlet. San

Francisco: Stanford University Press, 1966.

3.Scott, Mark W., Ed. Shakespeare For Students. Detroit: Gale Research

Inc., 1992.

4.Shakespeare, William. “Hamlet.” Literature: An Introduction to

Reading and Writing Ed. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs.

Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1995. 1129-1230.

5.Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark England in literature, Medallion Edition. Edited by Helen McDonnell et Al.

Oakland, New Jersey: Scott, Foresman & Company. 1982. 137-201

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