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Hamlet is a prisoner.(TM) Discuss

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Introduction

'Hamlet is a prisoner.' Discuss In Act 2, scene 2, Hamlet states that 'Denmark is a prison' whereas Rosencrantz and Guildenstern assertively disagree. This shows the problem of perception which arises when attempting to answer a question like the one in hand. Firstly, from the outset it is evident that Hamlet is a prisoner of ambition, and Rosencrantz reiterates this view when he says that it is ambition which makes Denmark a prison for Hamlet: 'Why, then your ambition makes it one. 'tis too narrow for your mind.' Rosencrantz argues that Hamlet's ambition makes him a prisoner, trapped and unable to broaden his possibilities. Yet Hamlet replies that it's nothing to do with the physical space of Denmark, as if you shut him up in a nutshell, he could believe he was a 'king of infinite space.' The problem is therefore that Denmark provokes negative thoughts and Hamlet is too entrapped in achieving his dreams that he cannot ignore the 'bad dreams' that are holding him back. ...read more.

Middle

Despite Hamlet's status as the prince of Denmark; he is also a prisoner as he is controlled. Any of the control he thought he had, fell away with the murder of his father. Having his father, the king, be killed by his own brother, sent Hamlet into a state of feeling helpless and out of control. Cooped up in a palace with no real outlet, Hamlet deliberately toys with Ophelia's emotions in order to feel in control of something since he cannot control the situation with Claudius. Most importantly perhaps and often considered Hamlet's fatal flaw is the fact he is a prisoner of his own mind. To many, Hamlet is too much of an intellectual to play the role as a typical avenger 'O what a rogue and peasant slave am I! Is it not monstrous that this player here, but in a fiction, in a dream of passion.' He is literally trapped in his thoughts and this is expressed in his 'To be or not to be' soliloquy as he is rhetorically arguing with himself, listing the reasons not to live as a result of his mind engulfing every reason there is to live. ...read more.

Conclusion

He is not a prisoner of his mind and although he does undoubtedly procrastinate in action, he still does use his 'hand' and well as his 'head' yet through using them together kills Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Ophelia, Laertes, Claudius and himself. In conclusion, clearly the evidence points towards Hamlet being a prisoner, even though on occasions he appears to act out of free will. Nevertheless, this free will he is acting out of is not entirely free, for example, his killing of Claudius was not a free choice but the result of Hamlet being a prisoner of madness and ultimately trapped in the past. Yet regardless of whether Shakespeare intended Hamlet 'To be' a prisoner 'or not to be' a prisoner, as he is meta-theatrically trapped and held captive by the genre and its conventions, is was inevitable from the outset that he would suffer major problems which would lead him to become a prisoner unto himself. ?? ?? ?? ?? Emma Williams ...read more.

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