In having to enter and act in the world of his uncle, Hamlet himself becomes anunwilling creature of that world. When he chooses to obey the ghost’s commandand revenge his father, Hamlet accepts the inevitability that he must becomepart of Denmark’s “unweeded garden”. As the ripple of originalvengeful intent widens and Hamlet is slowly but surely entangled in Claudius’brutal world through his madness, his murders, his plots, his relationship withother characters and his revelations on life and more importantly, death. Evenbefore the ghost urges Hamlet to avenge his death, Hamlet teeters on the edge ofhis uncle’s brutal world. Whilst never evil in intent Hamlet is simply one ofthe finest tragic heroes. Caught between his agony of mind and indecisionHamlet’s nature is neither treacherous like Claudius’ nor rash like Laertes’.Order now
This combination of values carries only tragedy when one such as Hamlet sufferssuch a fate as he did. Prior to his dead father’s prompting, Hamlet is alreadydevoured by melancholy over the loss of Old Hamlet and his mother’s “o’erhasty” marriage to Claudius. This suggests that Hamlet was alreadyinexorably linked to his Uncle’s brutal world. “It is not, nor it cannotcome to good. ” (Act1, Scene2) Hamlet also feels jealousy towards his motheras their relationship goes beyond that of a normal parent/child relationship. Whilst perhaps not sexual, their mere fifteen years age difference has enclosedthem in a very close-knit co-dependant affair.
“You are the Queen, yourhusband’s brother’s wife, And, would it not so, you are my mother. ” (Act3,Scene4) This jealousy and hatred Hamlet feels is close to pushing him over theedge, so when the Ghost commands revenge Hamlet has already positioned himselfat the starting line ready to begin his descent into Denmark’s brutal court. Hamlet’s acceptance of the task of revenge, even if somewhat reluctant, is thekey to entering Claudius’ world. Revenge in any context is morally wrong.
Hamlethimself realises this and is aware that the deeds he is charged to commit cannever bring about good, yet he knows he must complete them. “O, cursedspite, That ever I was born to set it right. ” (Act2, Scene1) Hamlet’sintent to revenge his father’s murder dooms him from the start because of hiswish to catch Claudius where bystanders may also be witness to his guilt,therefore turning Hamlet from an assassin to an executioner. Although Hamletdoes get his wish the price he pays is far too dear, perhaps however the deathof those eight people was the only solution to correct the times that were”out of joint”. Some may say that the end justifies the means butHamlet does become an unwilling creature of Claudius’ world because as theoriginal seed of revenge took root Hamlet could do nothing but let it grow. Hamlet’s plots to catch Claudius centre on his will to find out whether or notthe apparition he witnessed was telling the truth.
In Shakespeare’s time a ghostwas often regarded as a misleading spirit so in this way Hamlet’sprocrastination coupled with his conscience makes it understandable that he doesnot act quickly. The Mousetrap, the metatheatre used within the play is Hamlet’smost cunning scheme. This shows us the treachery which Hamlet is capable of, instark contrast to his almost jovial mood at the thought of revenge on Claudius. This orchestration of a play paralleling the murder and incest his unclecommits, shows us how Hamlet has become part of the diseased world shown on thestage. “The plays the thing, Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of theKing. ” (Act2, Scene2) We see in Hamlet a drastic change with the arrival ofthe players.
His mood lightens considerably and there is a hint that this mayhave been more like the prince of Denmark before his father’s murder. However,within this jovial and perhaps slightly too good-natured behaviour we seeHamlet’s underlying malaise – he needs to prove his uncle’s guilt. “Had hethe motive and cue for passion, That I have?” (Act2, Scene2) This causeshis manner becomes vicious, paralleling with his existence in Claudius’ world. The Mousetrap catches its prey just as Hamlet intends but instead of finishingit there, Claudius is allowed to escape.
Many view this as Hamlet’s mostgrievous fault, in fact it is his saving grace. To have struck down hisunknowing uncle on his knees in prayer would have turned Hamlet from righteousassassin to conscienceless villain. To murder Claudius then, Hamlet would havehad to go from being part of Denmark’s devious world to believing in it’s idealsand ultimately no longer just act in it but actively belong to it. “Avillain kills my father, and for that I, his sole son, do this same villain sendto heaven. ” (Act3, Scene3) Hamlet is never a fully corrupt party but he hasto become creature as a matter of survival. Hamlet’s madness is one of hisstrongest links to his uncle’s “unweeded garden”.
There are manyopinions on the nature of Hamlet’s madness, if it was real and what it wascaused by. Whilst we can never be certain of Shakespeare’s aim it seems mostlikely that Hamlet’s madness was feigned in part, as a way for Hamlet to enterand deal with the dark, impassive world of Denmark. At times, especially in thepresence of the two women in his life, Hamlet seems to have a true vein ofmadness running through his character, brought on by despair, hatred orjealousy. Perhaps Hamlet simply becomes neurotic rather than psychotic.
It isclearly shown, however, that Hamlet is aware he must put on an “anticdisposition” before he tries to take his revenge. It seems that this is hisway of preparing himself to deal with his Uncle’s brutal world. In Act Three,Scene Four Hamlet’s manic conversation with his mother does at times bring himclose to madness through his mad rage this in turn causes him to lose his normalself-control, stabbing Polonious believing it to be his uncle. “Nay, I knownot. Is it the King?” (Act3, Scene4) This is one of the only times whenHamlet’s feigned madness oversteps the boundary to something far more serious.
It happens again to some extent in Act Three Scene One where Hamlet abusesOphelia under the pretense of madness believing her to be party to the plotagainst him. “You should not have believed me. . . . .
. . . .
. . . .
. . . I loved younot. ” (Act3, Secne1) These occasions lend belief to the view that theevents that Hamlet experiences did cause him to lose control of his senses attimes. This indicates that if the events which sparked his revenge did indeedalso spark his madness, then the more desperate his revenge became, the worsehis madness became, showing how he was pulled deeper and deeper into rank weeds,despite his originally passive behaviour.
The murders Hamlet committed show howthrough entering Claudius’ world he becomes an unwilling creature of it. One ofHamlet’s biggest failings it would seem is his unwillingness to murder. He isnot rash or unthinking unlike Laertes who does not even think twice aboutchallenging the King as he does in Act Four Scene 5. “O thou vile King,Give me my father. ” However, as the ripples of revenge spread Hamlet rashlykills a hidden Polonius whilst in a rage, believing him to be Claudius. When hiserror is revealed Hamlet’s sorrow is evident, even though this was a man he didnot trust or like.
Hamlet is shocked that this “intruding fool” shouldhave come to such an end by his hand. Hamlet is excused for this murder , itbeing done so passionately, however the two that follow it are so treacherousand cold it seems Hamlet has lost his former compassion and truly begun to actwillingly in the brutal world that surrounds him. These two murders are of thosewho would be murderers themselves; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. On their way toEngland, carrying letters from the King which include Hamlet’s death warrant,Hamlet displays a villainous cunning matching that of his uncle.
Whilst his oldschool friends sleep Hamlet switches the original letters with counterfeits andescapes back to Denmark. When Rosencrantz and Guildenstern arrive in Englandthey hand over their own death warrants. This act is one of the most interestingas it portrays Hamlet as being without conscience or guilt, traits I which wouldbe more typical of Claudius. “Why, man, did they make love to thisemployment. They are not near my conscience. ” (Act5, Scene2) However Hamletdoes not attempt to hide what he has done which shows that although he didbecome a part of the “unweeded garden” he was never totally bound byit.
Hamlet’s two final murders were simply revenge. He slew Laertes or else beslewn himself. Yet the tragedy unfolds, as the scratch he receives from Laertespoisoned sword carries his own death sentence. His final murder of Claudius wasright in it’s wrongs.
Hamlet achieved his wish of becoming executioner insteadof assassin. “Treachery! Seek it out. ” (Act5, Scene2) In thisnear-final scene we see that Hamlet has indeed been caught and strangled by theweeds that he had no choice but to exist among. Hamlet’s relationships with theother characters in the play demonstrate how he begins to act differently as hegoes deeper into his uncle’s world.
His relationships with Claudius, Gertrudeand Ophelia are all markedly different but all show symptoms of Hamlet himselfbecoming an unwilling part of Denmark’s doom. It is understood that Hamletgreatly dislikes his Uncle Claudius even before the ghost’s revelation. “Alittle more than kin, and less than kind!” (Act1, Scene2) After Hamlet’sacceptance of the command to revenge his father this dislike turns to hatred. “O, villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!” (Act1, Scene5) He alsoburns with a great shame and jealousy that his mother shares such”incestuous sheets”. However, Hamlet is careful to mask his feelingsfrom his enemy, mostly using the veil of madness.
Whilst Claudius knows Hamletis a threat, especially after the “Mousetrap” incident he can onlyhope to use his deceit to prevent the truth from coming out. Claudius is theepitome of villainy yet Hamlet cannot bring himself to kill him. The irony isthat the longer Hamlet delays, the more he finds himself becoming part ofClaudius’ brutal world. Hamlet’s relationship with his mother, Gertrude is thedeepest and most complex of the play.
Hamlet hates her and yet loves her at thesame time and judges all women by her actions. “Frailty, thy name iswoman. ” (Act1, Scene2) At the beginning of the play we are shown that sheis troubled by his melancholy and is frivolous at the same time. “Thouknowest it common, all that lives must die,” (Act1, Scene2) As the playprogresses it becomes clear that the mere fifteen year age difference betweenthe two has caused an unnatural bond to be built.
From this comes Hamlet’sintense but supressed jealousy and great shame that she would so quickly forgetthe “wholesome” Old Hamlet for his “mildewed” brother. Thesefeelings which he does express to her in near madness are the driving forcebehind his revenge, As Gertrude is undeniably a part of Claudius’ brutal worldHamlet’s intense relationship with her only entangles him further. Ophelia,Hamlet’s true love, is doomed in her relationship from the moment Hamlet takeson the task of revenge. Whilst Hamlet only reveals at her death that, “Iloved Ophelia. ” his treatment of her immediately before shows how onceinside his uncle’s world he did become an unfortunate creature of it. From hislove letters to Ophelia, Hamlet has idealised the idea of perfect love andOphelia with it.
“Doubt truth to be a liar, But never doubt I love. “(Act2, Scene2) This can be paralleled with Hamlet’s idea that his father’s andmother’s love was perfect also. “So excellent a king. . .
. . . . . .
. . . .
so lovingto my mother. ” (Act1, Scene2) After Hamlet’s entrance into his uncle’sworld, Ophelia becomes an unknowing pawn to aid Claudius and Polonius, who areunder the false impression that Ophelia is the source of his madness. In ActThree Scene One Ophelia is set up to meet with Hamlet so Polonius and Claudiusmay observe. When Hamlet realises he is being watched he assumes Ophelia hasbetrayed him and is part of the scheme. He proceeds to abuse her physically andmentally under the act of feigned madness, causing her great confusion andangst.
Hamlet urges her “get thee to a nunnery” for he wishes her notto be corrupted as his mother is and spawn something evil, such as he himself. His soliloquised line spoken just before their meeting ” Oh what a noblemind is here o’erthrown” (Act3, Scene1) could be fairly applied to Opheliaoverthrown by Hamlet’s hand. Hamlet’s continued mistreatment of her coupled withher father Polonius’ death, by his hand, cause Ophelia to go mad and drown,perhaps in suicide whilst Hamlet is on his way to England. To blame Hamletentirely for Ophelia’s death would be unfair but as surely as Ophelia madlyhanded out her herbs Hamlet strangled them within the garden of weeds. Neverintentionally did our tragic hero mean to cause those he loved harm but in hisquest for revenge all were entwined in the dark garden of Denmark.
Throughoutthe play, as Hamlet sinks deeper into the brutal world of his Uncle, heexperiences revelations on life and consequently death that he would never hadcome by had he not entered into the brutal world. In Act 4, Scene5 Hamlet isamazed by what little a man’s life can count for and how quickly it is lost indeath. He taunts the King about Polonius’ whereabouts while talking about thedegradation that comes equally with death. “Nothing but to show you how aking may go a progress through the guts of a beggar. ” Act 5, Scene1; theinfamous grave scene Hamlet is shaken with the morbid fascination of finding theskull of his fathers jester.
Apon finding this abhorring thing coupled with thelighheartedness that the grave-digger displays causes Hamlet to contemplate thetragedy “that that earth which kept the world in awe should patch a wallt’expel the winters flaw!” Hamlet becomes increasingly disturbed throughoutthe play by the idea that life is but a mere prelude to death, which in turn isforgotten. Without becoming a creature of Claudius’ world Hamlet could havenever have come to such baneful conclusions. Through his madness, his murders,his plots his relationships with other character and his discoveries about lifeand death, Hamlet becomes inevitably part of his uncle’s brutal world. Eventhough he may never have been inclined to enter, his acceptance that he must toachieve his revenge proves that however unwilling Hamlet did indeed become acreature of the “unweeded garden, that grows to seed.”