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

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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