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Hamlet. Discuss Lord, we know what we are, we know not what we may be.~ Ophelia Act 4 Scene 5

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Introduction

English Coursework - Hamlet "Lord, we know what we are, we know not what we may be."~ Ophelia Act 4 Scene 5 "We think we know ourselves, but really we don't"~ Translate The Audience are never fully aware of who to trust or what is true or not throughout the whole play. The only person you can really rely on is Horatio, the most honest character in the play who is Hamlet's friend. The audience don't find out until later on in the play if the Ghost, old Hamlet, really is the dead king. In Elizabethan-Jacobean times, ghosts were people stuck in purgatory wandering the earth like a lost soul. A ghost could also have been the devil trying to trick someone into causing chaos. Another belief of the time was "The Divine Right of the King". This meant that the king or leader of a country was the closest possible connection to God. If a king of a country was killed this would therefore excommunicate the entire country. The audience also believes that Claudius is "incestuous" by marrying his sister-in-law. He gives hints like "our sometime sister, now our queen," he uses other words like "sift" and "use", enough to raise the audience's suspicion. ...read more.

Middle

Even though Hamlet thinks he knows that Claudius, his uncle, killed Old Hamlet, he still thinks that his mother was the one who betrayed him. The Ghost of his father keeps telling him to leave his mother's fate to God and to avenge (and remember) his father. The orders the Ghost gave Hamlet contradicted each other. Firstly, he was told to kill Claudius, as an act of revenge for Old hamlet, and to remember him. In Catholicism, people believe that if you are in purgatory the only way to get out is if people pray for/remember you. When the dead want to be sent to heaven, instead of languishing purgatory (the never-ending limbo) people pray for them. Claudius is the new king of Denmark, and Hamlet's uncle. Everyone seems to think he is a person and a good king but the audience may pick up on as be gives hints of his bad side by using words like "sift" and "use". He grows suspicious of Hamlet's madness. This means either he thinks hamlet knows of his terrible secret, or he truly cares about him. Claudius has Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and Hamlet's girlfriend Ophelia spying on Hamlet for him since as he says, the great ones must be watched. ...read more.

Conclusion

Through the loving of his sister Ophelia, he must watch his sister's madness following his father's death. The Ghost is the wandering spirit of the Old King, Hamlet's dad. He supposedly died of natural causes but we find out in Act 2 that he was murdered. What neither the audience nor Hamlet know is that the ghost might in fact be the devil disguised as Old Hamlet trying to cause chaos. This was a strong belief of the times. That ghost might be an evil spirit causing mayhem. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are old friends of Hamlet. Both of them grew up with Hamlet. For this reason Claudius enlists them to spy on Hamlet for him. Neither of them had a problem with trading in their friendship to betray Hamlet; although they weren't aware of the reason they were sent, they only thought they were meant to cheer him up. Both die when the instructions they bear from King Claudius are altered by Hamlet to instruct King Claudius' English associates to kill those bearing his commission immediately (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern). They are very unlucky since they didn't bring anything on themselves. They are the first people to be indirectly killed by hamlet. They are playing piggy in the middle since they are being sent around following different orders from Hamlet and Claudius. In addition, they don't know whose side to be on. Hamlet says he trusts them like "adders fanged". ...read more.

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