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Why is Hamlett Timeless?

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 886 words Published: 6th Jul 2017

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Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ is exemplary of the universal nature, which, despite the passage of time still holds its textual integrity. As ‘Hamlet’ is not limited by contextual barriers multiple interpretations are plausible through the text’s ability to be re-contextualised. The thematic representations of love, power and the central theme of life and death continue to hold significance to audiences and propose an understanding of the mental instability of the human condition. The themes will be highlighted in this response in order to expose Hamlet’s transcendent nature.

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Political instability and Power through matters of Corruption are timeless and can be expressed during the Elizabethan Era of Hamlet. Corruption is epitomised in Hamlet through the character of Claudius who used the ambiguous method of murdering King Hamlet to satisfy his obsession for power. Claudius’s immoral and corrupt rise to power is illustrated in Act 1 scene 5 as King Hamlet states, “The serpent that did sting thy father’s life now wears his crown.” The metaphoric language present exemplifies Claudius’s unjust rise to power. Claudius has used corruption at the detriment of justice and virtue to proclaim power within Denmark. Furthermore, Claudius corrupt rise to power is further cemented into the kingdom of Denmark through Hippocratic characters such as Polonius and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. This can be reinforced as Hamlet states, “there are many confines, wards and dungeons; Denmark being one o’th’ worst.” The extended metaphor of imprisonment not only encapsulates his view of Claudius’s corrupt kingdom but represents his feelings of being entrapped in an unstable political monarch. Therefore political instability and power occur through matters of corruption.

Central to ‘Hamlet’s’ development is the themes of intricacies of the human condition thus being life and death. Shakespeare’s usage of soliloquies depicts Hamlet thoughts and feelings strengthing Hamlet’s as a truth teller. This dramatic technique is used to reveals admiration of his father in contrast to Claudius. A hostile Hamlet illustrates the difference between the two kings, his deceased father and Claudius through the anthropomorphic allusion of his father to Claudius in being as “Hyperion as the satyr”. Thus suggesting Claudius who appears regal to be in reality like that of a lustfulness beast while his father to be that of a loyal God. The iambic pentameter present in the most part of the soliloquy is heavily disregarded as this line extends to fifteen syllables as to implore Hamlet’s distress. His turbulent response is furthermore illustrated by the enjambment which closely follows in the soliloquy indicating struggle to control his emotions. Imagery displays greater meaning in the death of his Hamlet’s father. “’tis an unweeded garden, that grows to seed” symbolises that the thrown has been overtook by weeds, that is Claudius, after what was before has died. Shakespeare imagery used allows the audience to view Hamlet’s thoughts graphically of the truth of the fratricide and incest in Elsinore.

Shakespeare’s use of soliloquies reveals Hamlet’s thoughts into life and death and reveals the weight of the contemplation in this stream of consciousness. The speech is written in a fractured, fragmented manner which is symbolic of Hamlet’s internal struggle. Emphasis is placed upon the second last syllable rather than the last syllable, which draws upon the tradition of feminine rhyme further elucidating Hamlet’s inner turmoil. Anadiplosis is evident in the metonymic chain in this soliloquy between the association of sleeping with death. The use of metonymy stresses the introspection of Hamlet, as it is a technique often used to convey thought processes, as thinking is an associative practice. Shakespeare suggests through the characterisation of Hamlet that the fear of what will come after death makes individuals suffer the corrupt world as suicide would mean “eternal damnation”. This is again reflected in his statement, “Thus consciousness does make cowards of all”. Poignantly highlighting Hamlet’s inability to execute his reprisal and his struggle to turn his desire for revenge into action, accentuating his restraint due to the fear of what his future will hold after death.

“Alas poor Yorick! Iknew him / Horatio” a transcendent quotation and is a famous reflection on the fragility of life. It is in this soliloquy where Shakespeare reveals Hamlet’s intelligence, emotional complexity into the fate of us all as the themes of life and death follow on into his stream of consciousness.

Hamlet is a play which both, reflects its own context and resonates with modern audiences. Through exploring themes such as the love, power and most highly life and death. ‘Hamlet’ educates the modern responder about the Shakespearean context and allows them to relate to universal these themes. This combination will ensure that the text continues to be valued as significant through numerous contexts.


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