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Main Themes in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

  • Category: Life
  • Subcategory: Emotion
  • Topic: Betrayal
  • Pages: 4
  • Words: 1644
  • Published: 10 July 2019
  • Downloads: 25
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William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet presents the great tragedies such as murdering, betrayals, madness and mostly getting vengeance. Throughout the play, Hamlet’s madness was caused by hideous circumstances that occurred in his life. At first, Hamlet found out that his father had been murdered by his own uncle, and he disliked a romantic relationship between Hamlet’s uncle Claudius and his mother Gertrude. These complications caused Hamlet to change his personality and he decided to act insane in front of certain people. Consequently, people’s disloyalty caused Hamlet to disbelief and to segregate himself from others. Moreover, he can be described as an intelligent and ingenious gentleman because in the play Hamlet acts in a unique way. In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, the protagonist Hamlet is sane in reality but appears to be insane to accomplish his desire of executing his father’s murderer.

After Hamlet’s father death, the ghost informs him that his father’s murderer is his uncle Claudius. He felt very dejected and miserable and decides to act insane, in order to quest the truth about his father’s murderer. From the beginning, Hamlet dressed up in a black outfit which permitted audiences to think that he is insane, but it was just a feeling of dejection and grief. Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother asks “Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off, and let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark” (1, 2, 68-69). She tries to encourage her son to take his gloomy clothing off and to be friendlier with Claudius the king. Hamlet answers “Nor are customary suits of solemn black, Nor windy suspiration of forced breath … Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief … For they actions that a man might play. But I have that within which passeth show, these but the trappings and the suits of woe” (1, 2, 77-86). He indicates that his black clothes or his gloomy appearance cannot express his feeling of sorrow. Also, Hamlet points out that he have a hideous pain within him that is concealing from others and his clothes are just an intimation of his feelings. Basically, by wearing a black outfit he is putting forward certain appearance, even before he decides on his plot to look insane.

With the watchmen, Hamlet states “How strange or odd soe’er I bear myself (As I perchance hereafter shall think meet, To put an antic disposition on)” (1, 5,171-174). Here, he is clearly saying, in future, he will pretend to appear insane, he’s putting on an “antic disposition”. Also by acting mad Hamlet can get away with unsuitable actions that he will comment later in the play. Once again his statement verifies that he is not insane, but he decides to act strangely in order to get retaliation from his father’s assassin.

As a play continues, Hamlet’s behavior becomes more erratic and his words are indistinct to other characters. Though, in reality he understands and distinguishes his actions. He states “the Everlasting had not fixed, His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God, God!, How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable, Seem to me all the uses of this world!, Fie on ’t, ah fie! ‘Tis an unweeded garden, That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature” (1,2,131-136). At this moment, Hamlet experiences mixed feelings, he believes his life is meaningless and he contemplates about committing suicide. In other words, he is depressed and hopeless, therefore he contemplates to get vengeance on the king, his uncle, because of murdering his father. In act three, Polonius the chief counselor, informs that Hamlet is insane due to his strong love for Polonius’s daughter Ophelia. Later, Claudius and Polonius set up a plan by having Ophelia to speak with Hamlet to prove that his madness is caused by his love. She attempts to give back the letters and the gifts that Hamlet given her before. However, Hamlet answers “No, not I. I never gave you aught” (3, 1, 98). He rejects the fact that he is in love with Ophelia and refuses to confess his love letters and the gifts. In this scene, Hamlet chooses to act in this manner because he wants Ophelia to believe that he is insane. Hamlet’s goal is to make everybody to believe his insanity, in order to achieve his desire of killing his uncle because of his disloyalty to Hamlets’s father.

Nevertheless, Hamlet is very rational character in the play because he acknowledges that Polonius and the king are listening to his conversation with Ophelia. When Hamlet asks where Ophelia’s father is, she responses at home and Hamlet states, “Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool no where but in ’s own house. Farewell” (3, 1, 33-35). Therefore, Hamlet decide not to express his love to Ophelia and his action made others to think that love is not the reason for Hamlet’s madness. Claudius states “Love? His affections do not that way tend. Nor what he spake, though it lacked form a little, Was not like madness. There’s something in his soul O’er which his melancholy sits on brood, And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose” (3, 1,163-169). The king defines Hamlet’s action is not madness and realizes there is something strange about Hamlet. In this part of the play, Shakespeare wants to express that Hamlet seem insane, but in reality he is wise man and Hamlet is aware of everything that is happening. As a result, Hamlet act of insanity will lead him towards to achieve his desire of murdering an individual who killed his beloved father.

In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet was developed by the idea of murdering, getting revenge and acting insane just like the character Hamlet. It is also about ‘a play within a play’, and in act three, Hamlet organizes a performance “The murder of Gonzago” to provoke the king. Hamlet’s deed is not a symptom of madness because an insane person cannot plot ideas like he does. Hamlet states “As Vulcan’s stithy. Give him heedful note. For I mine eyes will rivet to his face, and after we will both our judgments join. In censure of his seeming” (3, 2, 75-80). Before the play being performed Hamlet encourages his friend Horatio to keep an eye on the king to catch his conscience, so afterwards they can compare their observations on the king. At this point Hamlet wants to make sure whether his uncle is the true murderer of his father. However, it is not possible for insane person to come up with such a concept like Hamlet, which proves that he is sane and intellect thinker.

Hamlet’s act of insanity allows him to behave and say inappropriate things. While Hamlet’s play being performed, Hamlet summarizes that play to Claudius. He states “He poisons him i’ th’ garden for ’s estate. His name’s Gonzago. You shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago’s wife” (3,2,246-249). Basically, Hamlet is telling Claudius that Lucianus, the king’s nephew in the play, poisons the king in his own garden and wins the love of the king’s wife. In the middle of Hamlet’s play, Claudius gets up and exits with very angry mood because perhaps that was how he murdered his own brother the old king. Hamlet was able to act insane front of everybody and later Claudius understands that Hamlet is aware of everything that had happened to his father. In fact, Hamlet was successful because he was very intelligent to express a horrifying act that was done to his father by setting up this play. Therefore, his insanity brings him closer to achieving his desire, which is to get painful revenge from his father’s murderer.

Consequently, Hamlets performance of insanity has developed lot of conflict between other characters in the play, such as Ophelia, Polonius and Claudius. Hamlet is getting close to take revenge on Claudius, but he must have to enhance his insanity so that nobody will realize his plan of killing the king. During the closet scene, Hamlet was able to convince his mother in a really harsh manner that she accepted her guilt. His mother, Gertrude states, “O Hamlet, speak no more! Thou turn’st mine eyes into my very soul, And there I see such black and grainèd spots. As will not leave their tinct” (3,4,89-93). Hamlet was able to point out his mother’s sins and her wrong doings that allowed his mother to acknowledge her black soul that never be washed away. Hamlet gives really powerful speeches throughout the play that make people think, is he really insane or sane? He tells Gertrude “Or paddling in your neck with his damned fingers, Make you to ravel all this matter out: That I essentially am not in madness, But mad in craft” (3, 4, 190-193). Hamlet encourages his mother not to admit his fake madness to Claudius, because Hamlet wants Claudius and others to accept his insanity. Furthermore, he does not want to disclose the truth of him acting insane, before accomplishing his desire of getting vengeance on his perfidious uncle.

In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet the protagonist Hamlet was not insane because throughout the play he was able to pretend to be insane and make others believe his fake madness. At the very end of the play, he actually fulfills his desire of getting revenge by killing Claudius. Shakespeare developed Hamlet’s characteristic as clever, wise and very intelligent gentleman. Hamlet is believed to be sane because of his way of thinking is very successful and complex that can not be compered to insane person. Even in the play, most characters like Polonius, Claudius and his mother think that Hamlet’s insanity is not true. Once, Polonius states, “Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t” (2, 2, 195). Eventually, Polonius had come to realize that Hamlet’s act of insanity is fake; perhaps there is a reason behind his wild actions.

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Main Themes In Hamlet By William Shakespeare. (2019, July 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 24, 2020, from
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