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

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

Extracts from this document...


Explore Shakespeare's presentation of the relationships between parents and children in Hamlet. When exploring the parental relationships in Hamlet, the focus will inevitability lead back to the character of Hamlet. His connection, in one way or another, to the other characters allows one to observe Hamlet's behaviour and motives. The relationships between Polonius and his children, Leartes and Ophelia, are recognized, but Hamlet's filial relationships carry more weight in terms of importance. The character of Hamlet is a key figure who plays a central role amongst the three parental relationships he is a part of. These relationships give rise to issues of obedience and parental responsibilities. Denmark being a Christian country, expects its countrymen to follow the guidelines of the religion. One of the Ten Commandments states that one must 'honour thy mother and father'. Hamlet becomes increasingly rude towards his mother because of her recent marriage to his uncle Claudius, and openly states that she is her 'husband's brother's wife' (14;4;3). According to the laws at the time, as stated in The Book of Common Prayer, to marry one's brother in law was forbidden. The audience echo Hamlet's moral outrage but he comes to passionately loathe his mother, disgusted at her 'incestuous' desires. Hamlet's disgust erupts at the fact that his mother re-married 'but two months' after his father's death. ...read more.


Hamlet displays an immense amount of disrespect to Polonius, who is a potential father in law to him. He relates a possible father figure to an animal, drastically decreasing his status, furthermore, paralleling him to an animal detested by many because of its vermin infected reputation. Perhaps Polonius could be infected with the disease of evil, due to the aiding of Claudius' conniving scheme to remove Hamlet from the country. With that in mind, as a justification for murdering Polonius, Hamlet refers to himself as a 'scourge and minister' (177;3;4) implying that he has carried out the Lord's work. Now Hamlet believes his father to be 'God like' suggesting he believes himself to be the son of God, giving himself a religious pedestal upon which his actions can be justified. The impact of the atrocity committed is exceeded only by the colossal immorality of Hamlet's character, resultant of his unethical relation to the holiest religious figure, revealing a disturbing amount of arrogance on his part. His rash behaviour means that his consideration for whom the 'rat' may be comes after he has killed him. It is only then that he questions, 'is it the King?'. The fact that he does not ask exactly who it is, combined with the fact that it is Claudius who he asks of first, strongly shows his avid yearning for his uncle's death. ...read more.


and being that more than once, this indicates an intense abhorrence for his mother. With this in mind, it is therefore debateable as to who Hamlet is more enraged with - Gertrude or Claudius? In a natural order, children are obedient and loving towards their parents. Hamlet however detests his mother and dishonours her while at the same time, sinfully desires her sexually. This reflects the disorder of the whole play, much of which is related to the disorder in parental relationships. Hamlet calls Claudius his 'Uncle Father' which is sarcastic yet uncertain and leaves Hamlet confused. His sarcasm is disrespectful and dishonourable towards Claudius as he is acting as Hamlet's father. Hamlet tells Claudius to find the corpse of Polonius 'i'th'other place yourself' referring to hell and therefore literally tells Claudius to go to hell. In retrospect, Shakespeare does not represent one single parental relationship to be happy and without disorder. It is Hamlet's poignant sorrow that gives rise to the sinful disrespect he aggressively displays towards his mother. His sorrow comes from the untimely loss of his 'so excellent a King' father. The next best father figure, being his uncle, not only murdered his father, but also marries his mother. This deserts Hamlet, who is tragically left torn between whether to kill or thank Claudius. It could be said that Hamlet's only reason to kill Claudius is for his crown and wife. By Parveer Ubhi 1,735 words 1 ...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 Hamlet 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 Hamlet essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Explore the "loving mother-son" relationship between Gertrude and Hamlet, with focus on language.

    4 star(s)

    The alliteration here shows how much he only cares about himself. He doesn't care how Ophelia feels about Hamlet, what matters is that her love affair with Hamlet makes Polonius look bad. Because her actions will affect his image, he forbids Ophelia to see Hamlet.

  2. How does Shakespeare use language to describe Claudius as a villain?

    and all that we call ours To you in satisfaction In his public show, he manages to manipulate the trust of everyone present. In act 4 scene 7 Claudius confirms that Hamlet killed Polonius, though seeking to take Claudius' life.

  1. How does Shakespeare explore the nature of evil in the play, 'Hamlet'?

    In 'Hamlet', Shakespeare has portrayed evil as something that corrupts and deceives and upon analysis, one finds images which give the feeling of disgust and sickness, as in the Ghost's speech in Act 1, Scene 5, where he describes the effect of the poison Claudius had poured in his ears

  2. Is Hamlet a man of inaction?

    Now put yourself in hamlets situation you are a seventeenth century prince, a scholar based in a sheltered world, a world where you are oblivious to the fact that people lie, that people can be two faced and it is unbeknown to you that people are selfish and will put

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

    Shakespeare deliberately represents Claudius with a father like image to contrast with Hamlets father, the ghost which appears in Act 1 scene 5, as they both have a persuasive and manipulative representation. Claudius assumes that Hamlet will accept him as a father because he is marrying Hamlets mother Gertrude, but Hamlet is still grieving for his father who died.

  2. Relation of Religion With “Hamlet”

    Some critics claim more modestly that, while Shakespeare himself rejected revenge, he was depicting a pre-Christian world, a world in which the revenge ethic still reigned supreme; thus, in the context of the play, Hamlet should have taken revenge.

  1. Do you agree that a production of Hamlet should lead the audience to sympathise ...

    Ophelia takes his advice to heart, but tells him to make sure he himself lives by this advice. When Ophelia and Laertes' father Polonius enters, he commences a long speech full of fatherly advice for his son to heed before he goes away to university.

  2. Criticism on Hamlet

    Few have seen a celebrated waterfall without feeling something akin to disappointment : it is only subsequently that the image comes back full into the mind, and brings with it a train of grand or beautiful associations. Hamlet feels this; his senses are in a state of trance, and he looks upon external things as hieroglyphics.

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