Themes of the Tragedy Hamlet Essay Example
Hamlet is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare. Shakespeare is known for his tragic stories and Hamlet is no different. Hamlet deals with many themes like action vs inaction, corruption, madness, gender and many others. The whole play is based around the murder of Hamlet’s father, King Hamlet. Hamlet wants to honor his father and take revenge for his death but the problem is King Hamlet’s killer is his brother/hamlet’s uncle. Hamlet struggles with honoring his father ,letting revenge consume him and not directing his anger at the person who really deserves it.
Action vs. inaction
One of the themes in Hamlet is action vs. inaction. Hamlet is having a internal battle on whether to take action and kill his uncle to revenge his father's death or to not. After finding out it was his Uncle who killed his Father he declared revenge “So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word.It is “Adieu, adieu. Remember me.”I have sworn ’t”(1.5.117-119).Hamlet starts getting angry with himself for not taking acting yet “Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murdered,Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words And fall a-cursing like a very drab, A scullion! Fie upon ’t, foh!About, my brain.—Hum, I have heard That guilty creatures sitting at a play Have, by the very cunning of the scene, Been struck so to the soul that presently They have proclaimed their malefactions.For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak With most miraculous organ. I’ll have these players Play something like the murder of my father Before mine uncle. I’ll observe his looks. I’ll tent him to the quick. If he do blench, I know my course. The spirit that I have seen May be the devil, and the devil hath power T' assume a pleasing shape. Yea, and perhaps Out of my weakness and my melancholy, As he is very potent with such spirits”(2.2.611-635). He doesn't know if he is truly seeing the ghost of his father or is crazy with grief. He want to finally take action and see if his uncle is the murderer. Hamlet sees the king praying in the church and Hamlet thinks he is trying to confess his sins but in reality the king feels he can’t be forgiven because he is still benefiting from his brothers murder “Forgive me my foul murder”?That cannot be, since I am still possessed Of those effects for which I did the murder: My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
May one be pardoned and retain th' offense? In the corrupted currents of this world Offense’s gilded hand may shove by justice, And oft ’tis seen the wicked prize itself Buys out the law.”(3.3.56-64). Hamlet is about to kill him in this scene but his beliefs if he dies know his sins will be forgiven, which show irony because the king thinks the exact opposite and that his sins will never be forgiven “Now might I do it pat. Now he is a-praying. And now I’ll do’t. And so he goes to heaven. And so am I revenged.—That would be scanned. A villain kills my father, and, for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven” (3.3.77-83). Inthe end he does kill his uncle and take revenge for this father’s death but in a grim way.
Another theme is madness. Madness is prominent throughout the whole play. Madness is one of the first themes we see. As soon as there are rumors about Hamlet’s father’s ghost appearing Hamlet starts acting weird and obsessive about it “My father’s spirit in arms. All is not well. I doubt some foul play. Would the night were come! Till then sit still, my soul. Foul deeds will rise, Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men’s eyes (1.3.277-281). Hamlet starts changing and is acting weird. Ophelia said she saw Hamlet and he looks disheveled “My lord, as I was sewing in my closet, Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbraced; No hat upon his head; his stockings fouled, Ungartered, and down-gyvèd to his ankle; Pale as his shirt; his knees knocking each other; And with a look so piteous in purport As if he had been loosèd out of hell To speak of horrors—he comes before me”(2.1.87-94). Other people are noticing it too “CLAUDIUS-And can you by no drift of conference Get from him why he puts on this confusion, Grating so harshly all his days of quiet With turbulent and dangerous lunacy? ROSENCRANTZ-He does confess he feels himself distracted. But from what cause he will by no means speak. GUILDENSTERN- Nor do we find him forward to be sounded. But with a crafty madness keeps aloof When we would bring him on to some confession Of his true state” (3.1.1-10). Hamlet encounters the Ghost when the Queen is around but the Queen can not see the Ghost so she thinks he is crazy but he say he is not crazy because what he sees is real. “Ecstasy?
My pulse as yours doth temperately keep time And makes as healthful music. It is not madness
That I have uttered. Bring me to the test, And I the matter will reword, which madness Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace, Lay not that flattering unction to your soul That not your trespass but my madness speaks. It will but skin and film the ulcerous place Whilst rank corruption, mining all within, Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven. Repent what’s past. Avoid what is to come. And do not spread the compost on the weeds To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue, For in the fatness of these pursy times Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg, Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good”(3.4.160-176). Hamlet is not the only one acting strange, Ophelia is also being crazy “ She talks about her father a lot, and says she
hears there are conspiracies around the world, and coughs, and beats her breast, and gets angry over tiny matters, and talks nonsense. Her words don’t mean anything, but her babbling causes her listeners to draw conclusions. They hear what they want to hear. Her winks and nods and
gestures do suggest that she means to convey a message, and not a happy one.” ( 4.5.5-17). She becomes crazy over Hamlet. She starts singing about betrayal and death. It’s about hamlet, she gave herself to him and all he does with it is kill her father and is very mean to her. Which leds to the next theme.
Gender is the next theme.women throughout this play are mistreated and verbally abused. Hamlet has a lot of anger towards his mother and uncle, but he takes most of his anger out on his mother. “HAMLET-Ay, lady, ’twas my word. Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell.
I took thee for thy better. Take thy fortune. Thou find’st to be too busy is some danger. (to GERTRUDE) Leave wringing of your hands.Peace. Sit you down And let me wring your heart. For so I shall If it be made of penetrable stuff, If damnèd custom have not brassed it so That it is proof and bulwark against sense.GERTRUDE- What have I done, that thou darest wag thy tongue In noise so rude against me? HAMLET- Such an act That blurs the grace and blush of modesty, Calls virtue hypocrite, takes off the rose From the fair forehead of an innocent love And sets a blister there, makes marriage vows As false as dicers' oaths—oh, such a deed
As from the body of contraction plucks The very soul, and sweet religion makes A rhapsody of words. Heaven’s face doth glow O'er this solidity and compound mass With tristful visage, as against the doom, Is thought-sick at the act.” he takes most of his anger out on his mother and Ophelia even though it's his uncle how did the act. Ophelia thought Hamlet was in love with her but he mistreats her often so she give back the things he gave her a he gets very mad “HAMLET-
If thou dost marry, I’ll give thee this plague for thy dowry. Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery, go. Farewell. Or, if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool, for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go, and quickly too. Farewell.” (3.1.146-152) in the end Ophelia kills herself and only after she is gone is when he is upset and say how much she loves her.
Hamlet is a very good play. It deals with a lot of hard suggest like death, family and power. It reminds us the death is inevitable and nothing can change that. So we should try to enjoy live while we can.