• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Analyse Shakespeares presentation of the theme of betrayal in Hamlet and show how far your appreciation and understanding of this theme have been informed by your reading of The Revengers Tragedy.

Extracts from this document...


Analyse Shakespeare's presentation of the theme of betrayal in Hamlet and show how far your appreciation and understanding of this theme have been informed by your reading of "The Revenger's Tragedy." Shakespeare revolves the theme of betrayal around the central character - Hamlet- and it is through Hamlet's introspection and his soliloquies that an audience is able to witness the theme of betrayal in action. Through Hamlet's soliloquies, an audience is exposed to his belief that Gertrude has betrayed his father. In Elizabethan times, Gertrude's marriage to Hamlet may have been regarded as incestuous and unlawful. Thus, Hamlet refers to the "sheets" of marriage as "incestuous." However, Hamlet's continual preoccupation with the "speed" in which Gertrude remarried, suggests that he sees the betrayal as more to do with the fact that Gertrude has not undergone a significant period of mourning. Conventionally, a period of mourning of one year would have been expected, whereas Gertrude remarried in two months. Hamlet likens Gertrude's actions to that of "Niobe" and by drawing such comparisons emphasises his belief in hypocrisy of her actions, thus betraying her deceased husband. ...read more.


Shakespeare further portrays men to be the instigators of betrayal, as Hamlet forgets that he ever loved Ophelia. Through, being overcome with intense hatred and anger at his mother, Hamlet denies ever having loved Ophelia, and orders her "to a nunnery." It is Hamlet who instigates such betrayal, as he previously says "My fair Ophelia - Nymph." Through "nymph" Hamlet is describing Ophelia as a beautiful maid, thus highlighting his love for her. Yet, his attitude thereafter is considerably callous, as he continually questions Ophelia on her "honesty." The continual questioning reflects that of a gruelling and in part contributes to Ophelia's later madness. Kenneth Brannagh has said that his interpretation of "Hamlet" suggests that Hamlet is aware of either Polonius and Claudius and Hamlet's continual repetition of "Get thee to a nunnery" emphasises his belief in all women being morally corrupt. Possibly, Hamlet betrays Ophelia because he ultimately loves her. He is aware of men being "arrant knaves" and as such may be protecting Ophelia. Nevertheless, his continual rejection of Ophelia and his violent sentiments highlight the concept that men were often instigators of betrayal at the expense of women. ...read more.


Hamlet's continual dwelling on the issues of the afterlife and the suggestion of the terrors of the Purgatory numbs him into inaction. Hamlet himself says "conscience make cowards of us all" emphasising his inability to kill Claudius swiftly is due to his continuous pondering over the potential consequences, since he is aware of the repercussions of revenge. Thus, at the end of the play just as Claudius is punished for his sins of betrayal, Hamlet must face his own punishment for avenging such betrayal. Shakespeare portrays betrayal as an inevitable consequence of the desire of characters to seek for power and greed. It is usually the male characters that attempt to gain from such positions, thus an audience are aware that men usually are perpetrators of betrayal. This is evident in "The Revenger's Tragedy" where Ambitioso and Supervacuo's desire to become Duke, which leads them to betray Lussurioso. Hamlet believes that his mother has betrayed his father and Ophelia is susceptible to carrying out such betrayal too, but it is more "female frailty" rather than betrayal that steers Gertrude's actions. Gratiana exemplifies such "frailty" through betraying her own children and succumbing to what was perceived as women's "natural sin." ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The English Patient

    5 star(s)

    She reads parts of his journal. One day, Kip is searching the garden and he finds a large and complicated bomb with wires running through the grass and attached to a tree. He needs Hana's help to hold one of the wires while he tries to figure out which one to cut.

  2. How are male/female relationships explored in the texts? William Shakespeares Macbeth; Carol Ann Duffys ...

    Their roles are now beginning to reverse and Macbeth begins to assert his dominance. This shows also that so he obviously cares about her because he's not telling her so she's not caught up in it. Macbeth scolds her, before he would never have done this but the sudden surge of authority and power in his life changed him.

  1. Cultural differences of Petronius The Widow of Ephesus. Petronius The Widow of Ephesus ...

    "The Perfidious Widow" is very similar to "The Widow of Ephesus" in that both of the male figures are soldiers on duty to watch over criminal bodies. The soldier in "The Perfidious Widow" also hears the cries of the widow and runs to her aid.

  2. Ambition in "The Duchess of Malfi" and "Paradise Lost"

    Here, Milton suggests that ambition is never-ending. He shows that Satan's ambition to reign is worth the aim in which he strives for and that it is better to strive for something that can be achieved; rather than living in false hope.

  1. Compare and contrast American playwrights presentation of masculinity in Death of a Salesman, Whos ...

    Tom?s failure to fulfil their roles as males is caused by their lack of male example or in the case of Biff and Happy how a poor male example can also lead to failure. Likewise both couples in are deeply influenced by the wife?s father; the play forwards the thought

  2. How far can a feminist reading be applied to The Yellow Wallpaper?

    However, in 1980 feminist criticism ?became? more eclectic?7 considering Marxist, structuralist interpretations and ?exploring the nature of the female world? reconstructing the lost or suppressed records of female experience?7. Thus, Barry analyses ?a female language, an ecriture feminine?4 exploring whether this form ?is also available to men?4.

  1. Explore the theme of trauma in The Bell Jar and Regeneration

    share; Prior explains that his father is ?a bar-room socialist? and a wife beater, having seen him ?use [his] mother as a football,? in the past. But equally this statement suggests that he cares for his mother too much to want her to know the full extent of the trauma

  2. Examine Shakespeares presentation of women in Hamlet. Show how far your appreciation and understanding ...

    On the other hand, both Gertrude in Hamlet and The Duchess in TRT are portrayed as immoral and sexual characters that use the male character for their own benefit and to maintain their hold on power. Gertrude, after only a month of her late husband?s passing, marries Claudius, though in

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work