The Tragedy Of Hamlet Prince Of Denmark
The Tragedy Of Hamlet: Prince Of Denmark
In Shakespeare’s early 17th century work of The Tragedy of Hamlet: Prince of Denmark, the universal and fundamental idea of death is adequately expressed throughout this revenge drama. Using death as a theme emphasizes Shakespeare’s plot and point of whether the consequences of moral corruption surrounding death are justified by the relationship of thoughts, motives, and actions.
What is death? Death is the inevitable conclusion to everyone’s life story. It doesn’t discriminate based on race, color, sex, physical attributes, etc., it doesn’t feel pity or remorse and it comes to us all. From the mightiest king to the loneliest peasant, no one excluded from death’s icy grip. It is a natural fact of life that is either rejected or accepted. Death being the main theme of Hamlet, a stronger connection is achieved between the readers and Hamlet than another drama excluding death. The simple reason being that death is not only a part of the Hamlet’s set of circumstances but also part of the real world, thus linking the reader to the atmosphere of Shakespeare’s drama by having experiencing death themselves in one form or another at some point in their lives. Death usually creates unwanted and unexpected situations to others that leave them with little options and a burden on their shoulders as it did to Hamlet who actively disapproved of the moral state of affairs he was thrown into with the discovery of his father’s true death.
The cycle of death is a never-ending spiral that travels in basically two directions, up or down (depending on your religion). And everything else is in one way or more is chained to this spiral. This is perfectly demonstrated as the entire plot of Hamlet revolves around the murder of King Hamlet and the moral contemplations of, his son, Prince Hamlet’s dilemma of resolving his inner struggle by directly causing the death of Claudius or that of his own. The consideration of young Hamlet taking his own life is thoroughly explained by his famous suicide soliloquy (SparkNotes) “To be or not to be,” (III. i 58-90) where he takes a logically powerful stand point on whether the consequences of suicide outweigh the benefits or if there are any consequences at all in accepting death by your own hands. During his soliloquy, Hamlet refers to several of the supporting themes of this revenge drama such as a world shrouded in a thick fog of spiritual sensitivity and common factors between feelings, motives, and actions which are all remotely linked to the never-ending spiral of death that surrounds us all. Small bits and pieces of this spiral can, in fact, be seen in Hamlet by the use of symbols. Symbols are used to express nonrepresentational concepts or thoughts; such symbols include characters, objects, figures, locations, etc. For example, Hamlet’s entity and Yorick’s skull are symbols in lieu of the spiritual and physical penalties of death respectively.
Death is not widely accepted and is seen as a robbing of life. Therefore if death is caused by someone and not by natural causes, their soul is spiritually damned for eternity (according to Christianity and Christian-based religions). The only salvation is praying to some form of a supreme being of that particular faith to forgive the sins that were committed. As the reader’s saw Hamlet’s attempted murder of Claudius who was in the middle of a prayer, (III. iii) Hamlet believed that Claudius was in direct contact with the supreme being of their faith, thus killing Claudius at such a time, he thought, would send him to a positive spiritual plane that was unworthy of a soul responsible for the direct destruction of another living being.
Physical death is not the only form of demise presented by Shakespeare in his play. The concept of mental decay is the breakdown of the body’s mind, which is in some psychological cases, is the prelude to physical death. Hamlet’s rising madness, scattered through the majority of the scenes in the play, is the result of mental decay brought upon by the unwanted situation of his father’s murder. In act IV.v, the readers are given a glimpse of the disturbingly poor mental health Ophelia is over her father’s death, leading to her ultimate self-destruction just a couple of scenes later on (IV. vii). Ophelia’s knowledge of her father’s passing shows how severe an influence death can have over related individuals. Death has the potential to cause stern mental decay that leads to poor judgment and increasingly irrational behavior as it did to Ophelia.
The character’s natural course of thoughts and actions are greatly influenced by the related deaths of other characters that surround them at all times. Imagine the Hamlet setting as being a given number dominoes in a circular formation. The disturbance of one domino will profoundly pressure the next domino and so on and so forth until all of the playing pieces are no longer standing. This demonstrates how the main characters are subjective to death and it’s influences. The profound pressure that is responsible for the falling of each “domino” is that of the influence of death on each of the participant’s emotional status. Death acting as a negative mental status ailment can handicap the recipient’s ability and potential in successfully solving or handling a situation by disrupting their normal routine conduct, thus leading to unstable and irrational behavior portrayed by Prince Hamlet. The formations by the “dominoes” exist because they are a natural course of life that cannot be rejected just questioned through the various teachings of faith.