Richard Andrews and Rex Gibson - Sample Essay
One of the other reasons that cause Hamlet’s torment is his indecisiveness. He says during one of his soliloquies: “O what a rogue and peasant slave am I! ” He is berating himself for not taking action when his father has been murdered, while the player can make himself cry for a fictitious character. He could also be saying that he is not worth anything in the court now, as his father is dead, yet he is not king when he should be.
When Claudius is attempting to pray in the Church, Hamlet says that he did not want to kill him until he was sure that he would be sent straight to hell with no hope of being sent to heaven, for example if he was laying in ‘incestuous sheets’. However, this could have been just another excuse at putting the task off, for he seemed to offer no resistance when Claudius sent him to England. This may not have been his fault, as Claudius shows himself throughout the play as being a very manipulative person. He has taken the throne and Gertrude.
He has Polonius spying for him, and he also gets Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who are Hamlet’s friends from school to spy on him and eventually gives a letter to the English King requesting that he murder Hamlet. Perhaps Hamlet is even jealous that Claudius, who he hates, can take such action when he himself cannot. It seems that Claudius is the main source of corruption in the play, and also he is the reason that Hamlet decides to pretend to be mad, for it was Claudius that started off the chain of events, with killing Hamlet’s father.
It was he that murdered Hamlet the king, corrupted Gertrude, encouraged Polonius to spy and eventually murdered which in turn caused Ophelia’s madness and Laertes’s downfall. He is described by Hamlet as a; “Smiling damni?? d villain”, picturing Claudius as full of deception where he is hiding his evil deeds. This has had an effect on the whole court, and indeed the whole of Denmark, for the text says; “This heavy-headed revel east and west makes us traduced and taxed of other nations. They clepe us drunkards, and with swinish phrase soil our addition.
” The Danish are said to be drunks, and later Claudius himself describes them as ‘false Danish dogs’, for he believes that they are still only loyal to Hamlet. Hamlet acknowledges all of this corruption, even in the beginning of the play when he says; “’tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature possess it merely. ” Hamlet sees at the very beginning that things are starting to turn bad, and he can feel, like the attendants at the beginning, that something is not right.
Hamlet feels surrounded by madness around him, and he feels that the only way he can make sense of all this and to find means for his revenge is to put on an “antic disposition” and pretend to be mad. This seems to be a reflection of the state around him – that something is not right, however towards the end of the play it is unsure whether he has actually gone mad, being affected by his surroundings, for his actions do change dramatically, and although he does not act in the way Ophelia does when she is mad, he is a changed person.
All of the other main characters are corrupted, and Hamlet despises this. One of the reasons that he puts off killing Claudius could be that it goes against what he knows is right. He wished that he would have the strength to avenge his father; “Now could I drink hot blood and do such bitter business as the day would quake to look on. ” He was born a thinker, but he asks that; “My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!
” He wishes that he were able to have passion like the player and act like Fortinbras. Eventually this does happen, as Ophelia comments on; “O, what a noble mind is here overthrown! The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s eye, tongue, sword, th’expectancy and rose of the fair state, the glass of fashion and the mould of form, th’observed of all observers. ” Ophelia sees how has changed, and believes that he truly has gone mad, for he has changed into what he hated most.
He kills Polonius, with no real regret, disregards Ophelia’s feelings and his mother’s, sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their deaths without regret and does in the end kill Laertes and Claudius. However, there still is some of the old Hamlet left in him, for after Ophelia has died he says that he always did love her, so perhaps he shunned her so that he would have a clear mind to be able to think about his revenge. Also he apologised to Laertes before they fight, perhaps seeing something of himself in him, for his father was murdered as was Hamlet’s.
This shows that Hamlet has not yet completely given way to the corruption of Denmark. Just before Hamlet dies, he claims that the throne should be given to Fortinbras. Hamlet admired Fortinbras for his action, and he was quite like Hamlet, his father being killed and he being usurped from the throne. Fortinbras accepts the throne and orders that Hamlet’s body be treated with respect; “Let four captains, bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage, for he was likely, had he been put on, to have proved most royal”.
Fortinbras believes that Hamlet would have been a good king, and perhaps he might have had he have not been corrupted by the state of Denmark. Fortinbras survived, seemingly because he came from outside Denmark, and as did Horatio, not only because he was a good friend to Hamlet, but as Hamlet said; “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
” Hamlet believed that Horatio was unable to see the corruption that infected Denmark, and because of this he was untainted by it, this perhaps being a reason why Horatio does not die in the play. Bibliography Cambridge School Shakespeare – Hamlet by William Shakespeare, edited by Richard Andrews and Rex Gibson. Longman 1988, critical essays, Hamlet – The State of Denmark by Alan Gardiner, editors – Linda Cookson and Bryan Loughrey. By Emma Curtis, 12C.