Hamlet: Response To Literature Taking place in Elsinore, Denmark Hamlet by Williams Shakespeare is a remarkable play where love and madness co-exist in an all-out war between family and friends. For many years, literature scholars have viewed Hamlet’s themes in many ways and forms. I intend to view Hamlet’s themes as well to come to a better understanding of the play. In order to fully analyze this I intend to explore family, love, madness and the center of the whole play…death. By carefully considering each point and view of the play, I intend to express these issues in a clear and understandable manner.
Hamlet goes through many complications throughout this play; one in particular is his family. The play is notorious for the way it resides on the issue of incest, Gertrude's marriage to her dead husband's brother, Hamlet's obsession on his mother. Also coping with his father’s death and the remarriage of his beloved mother Hamlet ends up in a whirlpool of his own emotions. It is also important to note how the play is particularly concerned with the way politics influence the changes of family relationships, especially when peace and harmony are sacrificed for political gain.
In addition, an important fact is that Hamlet involves three revenge plots that joint two sons avenging their father’s death. The word love has several definitions; it can mean to feel strongly or personally attached to a person. Different kinds of definitions of love exist; love for an object or thing, love for family members, love in friendship and romantic love. The love that is interpreted in the play: Hamlet is love for family members and romantic love. Even though one thinks love appears to exist, it is not always present. For example, the love Hamlet has for Ophelia is tested when he bumps into her in the halls of the palace.
There Hamlet notices that he is being watched and asks Ophelia where her father is, she replies with a lie. “I have heard of your paintings too, well enough. God has given you one face, and you make yourselves another. ” (145-147) Here Hamlet means that Ophelia is two-faced and he is disappointed in her. Another break through between love and hate is the immense love for his mother, yet the hate for her because of her incest betrayal towards his father. In Act III Scene IV Gertrude calls for Hamlet and as he arrives she says “Hamlet thou hast thy father much offended” (father meaning Claudius).
With this Hamlet replies “Mother, you have my father much offended” (father meaning old King Hamlet). With Ophelia’s betrayal and the conversation with his mother, Hamlet concludes that all women are untrustworthy liars with no motive. “As I perchance hereafter shall think meet to put an antic disposition on” (171-172). Here Hamlet tells his friend Horatio that he will put on an “antic disposition” to get close to the king and avenge his father’s death. Hamlet’s so called “antic disposition” or madness has sparked many scholarly debates. Was Hamlet truly mad? Or was Hamlet’s plan to get to the king so successful that he fooled the audiences?
In my opinion, Hamlet’s “act of madness” was performed to the best of his abilities. He deceives his family and friends. Later in the play, Ophelia loses her sanity because of her father’s death. In Act4 Scene5, the spotlight is on Ophelia and her wishes to speak with the Queen. Two scenes later, the poor Ophelia commits suicide, drowning herself in the river. “One woe doth thread upon another’s heel…Your sister’s drowned, Laertes. ” – Queen (164-165) Madness and insanity can lead us to many conclusions, sadly for Ophelia that lead to her death. Death, such a dark thing to speak of, yet it is the center of the play.
Hamlet is an incredible play centers everyone’s motive on revenge. Throughout the play, we have contemplations of death mainly by the main character – Hamlet. In the “to be or not to be” soliloquy (on page 76) Hamlet at first imagines death as a welcomed escape to the horrors of life. However, later considers the idea that with the sleep of death comes the possibility of nightmares. “To die, to sleep – to sleep, perchance to dream, ay there’s the rub” (64-65). Towards the end of the story death takes an extreme toll where the casualties include Gertrude, Laertes, Claudius and Hamlet.
Listed in chronological order, all these characters died by the same poison. Hamlet is a result of real emotions, where feelings come together and flood and fog the mind with boggling contemplations of various elements. One also sees Hamlet as a man who wants to escape the pains of life, but when in reality he understands the need to live. In my opinion, the moral of the play is the importance of realizing that no person has absolute control of everything. That there is a fate at work in everything and that at some point it just has to be accepted.