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Explore Shakespeare's presentation of the relationships between parents and children in Hamlet.

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Introduction

Kenneth Espino 12R Explore Shakespeare's presentation of the relationships between parents and children in Hamlet Hamlets father the king of Denmark is dead and has been succeeded by his brother Claudius, who has married the old Kings wife Gertrude. The King's ghost tells Hamlet that Claudius murdered him, and persuades Hamlet into avenging his death. The Play traces the process in which Hamlet contemplates his father's filial duty through a range of themes. One of the Themes that is strongly explored and developed through out the play is the relationship between Father and son. The contrasts and comparisons between Father and son relationships cause conflict that leads to revenge. The first sequence which explores the father / son relationship is in Act 1 Scene 2, where Claudius bids farewell to Laertes on his journey to France. Claudius confronts Laertes in a Father like manner, "And now, Laertes, what's the news with you?" Shakespeare presents Claudius with a father like tone deliberately to show the contrast of claudius' relationship with Laertes and his relationship with Hamlet. Claudius' relationship with Laertes is much more affectionate than what it is with Hamlet. "What wouldst thou beg, Laertes, that shall be my offer, not thy asking?" Shakespeare purposely structures Claudius' representation in this way, so that it prepares the audience for the change in character later on in the play. It also emphasises Claudius' character as being false to an extent, "The head is not more native to the heart, The hand more instrumental to the mouth." ...read more.

Middle

This is very successful in persuading Hamlet to avenge, as it is very reflective of pain and suffering in purgatory. "The serpent that did sting thy father's life now wears his crown." The metaphorical imagery is very successful in manipulating Hamlet to avenge, as the ghost is comparing his brother Claudius to a serpent and also creates vengeance of Hamlet towards Claudius. The scene shows no definite relationship between Hamlet and his father, except the fact that the ghost is successful in persuading Hamlet into accepting the duty of avenging. The only intimacy between Hamlet and his father is when the ghost tells Hamlet to remember him. "Adieu, adieu, adieu. Remember me."Both the ghost and Claudius use manipulative language in persuading Hamlet. Claudius tries to persuade Hamlet in getting over his fathers death in Act 1 scene 2, but Hamlets father persuades him to remember him. Shakespeare deliberately presents Claudius and the ghost in similar ways "O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!" this show that Hamlet respects the ghost as his genuine father and that he doesn't respect Claudius at all. Shakespeare has deliberately presented Hamlet with this threatening tone, as it emphasises his hatred and vengeance towards his uncle, Claudius. Hamlet feels it is now his duty to avenge his uncle because he has sworn to his father. "I have sworn't." This is similar to Laertes as he feels he has to revenge against Hamlet because Hamlet killed his father. They both avenge out of guilt. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although Hamlet and Laertes seem different in character, they are both very similar. They both fulfil the duty that they are intended to fulfil. In this scene Claudius' character is revealed, which is a major contrast from his character in Act 1. Shakespeare deliberately presents Claudius' and Hamlets relationship in this scene to portray Claudius' genuine character. In this scene Claudius refers to Hamlet as Cousin. "cousin Hamlet, you know the wager?" Shakespeare's deliberately presented Claudius in this way to show that Claudius never had genuine fatherly feelings towards Hamlet, as he would never have persuaded Laertes into avenging against Hamlet. It also shows that he feels no guilt towards the revenge, if he can kill his own brother, than he can kill his nephew. "Hamlet, this pearl is thine. Here's to thy health. Give him the cup." Claudius tries to persuade Hamlet into drinking the poison, but Hamlet refuses. Laertes confesses to the poison and tells Hamlet how the king persuaded him, "The King, the king's to blame." This corrupts the fatherly / son relationship between Claudius and Laertes, Laertes realises that Claudius used him to avenge against Hamlet. Hamlet immediately stabs Claudius with the poisoned sword and forces him to drink the poison intended for him. "Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damned dane, drink off this poison. Is thy union here? Follow my mother." Shakespeare deliberately presents the father / son relationship in this way to show that Hamlet has no respect for his uncle and that he despises Claudius for marrying his mother and killing his father, he never considered him as father. This proves that there never was no father / son relationship between Claudius and Hamlet, except vengeance. ...read more.

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