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

'Hamlet is an element of evil in the state of Denmark... a living death in the midst of life

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

'Hamlet is an element of evil in the state of Denmark... a living death in the midst of life.' Do you agree that this accurately describes Hamlet and his role in the play? In claiming that Hamlet is 'a living death in the midst of life', Knight depicts Hamlet as a character who is entirely a corrupting force in the lives of others, rather than a morally superior character attempting to orchestrate justice. In that Hamlet is secluded and absolutely isolated from those who experience 'life', Knight condemns Hamlet to the title of being an emotionless element of malevolence. It is important however to consider Hamlet's circumstance before labelling him as an 'element of evil'. This title portrays a being that has no conscience and feels little, if any, emotion; it could be argued however, that the corruption Hamlet brings to the lives of the other characters in the play is not a manifestation of his evil ways, but of a sensitive man whose despair drives him to the edge of insanity, and inevitably causes chaos. Hamlet is presented as an outsider from the very beginning of the play; he rejects the events of the court by denying Claudius' attempts at calling Hamlet his son, [Aside]'A little more than kin, and less than kind.' Hamlet is portrayed as an almost ominous, sinister presence from the beginning, whereas Claudius is illustrated as an eloquent extravagant man of power by his complex and elegant language; 'Here is a field open for talent; and here... ...read more.

Middle

Hamlet's desperation is depicted by his frantic attempts to be seen as insane, it is my opinion that if he is able to convince the audience that he is without morality or emotion, it only further convinces me that Hamlet is willing to risk and make full use of all that he has. His most valuable asset, his mental health, is presented as something Hamlet hides in order to fulfil his father's wishes. These desperate actions are not those of an evil element, but of a frantic young man who seeks closure in the murder of his father. As the play unfolds and more traits of Hamlet's character are revealed, he continues his vengeful quest accompanied by his progressively convincing insanity. Soon after confessing his love for Ophelia, Hamlet quickly withdraws and denies any love for her in disgust, 'I loved you / not'. In doing this he shows both sides of his questionable motives and morals, and presents his tendency to act impulsively. Hamlet displays these traits in his interactions with his frail and dependent mother; as he reminds her of the sins that she has committed, a sound is heard, and Hamlet lashes out rashly with his sword. With all intentions of slaying someone, he acts, regardless of who stood behind the tapestry. This deed alone seems uncharacteristic and impulsive in nature, but is soon followed by others of similar severity. ...read more.

Conclusion

Despite Hamlet's rash and desperate actions, and his cruelty to Ophelia and Gertrude, we do engage with Hamlet on various levels, his grappling with his task of revenge is something everyone can relate to. Doubt in the ghost's trustworthiness, leading him and Shakespeare to reflect on the purpose and meaning of life itself, shows that through dramatic devices, principally soliloquy, we tend to sympathise with Hamlet. All of the confusion over Hamlet's true nature and the ambiguity of his character is the result of Shakespeare's ingenious manipulation of his characters to implicitly articulate his ideas. In saying 'Hamlet is an element of evil', Knight jumps to conclusions, condemning Hamlet's character to the rigid label of evil, when in fact the opposite is true. The possible perception that Hamlet is evil is merely a manifestation of confusion, emotion and desperation, these being traits that an element of evil could not possibly possess. Shakespeare uses Hamlet's ambiguous nature as a way of raising philosophical questions about human nature. Almost every kind, noble, or gentle act Hamlet commits is coupled with one lacking morality. Given this however, this is merely an analysis on a human life, and a series of events based on the elements of confusion and depression; to call Hamlet a corrupting force may be a little more accurate, however I believe to call Hamlet an 'element of evil' is a generalisation of an ingeniously intricate character designed to make the audience think about Hamlet's true nature, not to brand him as a 'living death'. ?? ?? ?? ?? Will Nolan English Lit. AS 2005-03 ...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. Critical review of 'Hamlet'

    The reason for Hamlet's behaviour is obviously due to an argument that has angered Hamlet greatly coupled with him not wanting to kill the King at this precise moment. At the moment the death of Polonius is revealed to Hamlet he shows no remorse for the father of the girl he claims to have loved.

  2. Scene by Scene - Hamlet.

    Afterwards he says he suspects foul play. Everybody else probably does, too, even without any ghost. I.iii. Laertes says goodbye to Ophelia, his sister. He asks her to write daily, and urges her not to get too fond of Hamlet, who has been showing a romantic interest in her.

  1. Consider how Shakespeare presents madness in the play and explain whether you think it ...

    seen as incest by the Church and that Hamlet should have been the rightful heir to the throne; "Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature that we with wisest sorrow think on him together with remembrance of ourselves." He says that he is mourning and feels that mourning is

  2. Discussing Hamlet.

    This suicidal behaviour implies that he is unable to endure the cruel pressures of the world, as he welcomes death to terminate all his problems. The reason he gives for not committing suicide is religious, that God condemned it in his sixth commandment, however he wishes that the "Everlasting had not fix'd His Canon 'gainst self-slaughter!".

  1. To what extent is 'Hamlet' principally a revenge tragedy?

    Hamlet knows that it is his agonising thought processes that restrains him from doing his father's bidding, and consistently berates himself - 'conscience does make cowards' (3.1.82). This continual anger and frustration at his own cowardice, is mentioned again later with 'a thought which when quartered hath but one part wisdom and ever three parts cowardice' (4.4.41).

  2. An Analysis of Hamlets Philosophy of Life and Death in William Shakespeares Hamlet

    The outlook Hamlet has on life and death becomes more optimistic as he has finally come to terms with death. Horatio has just fetched Hamlet from a pirate ship bringing him back from his journey to England and they are in a graveyard near the castle.

  1. Criticism on Hamlet

    is necessary to decide, whether, after our present state, we are to be or not to be. That is the question, which, as it shall be answered, will determine, whether 'tis nobler, and more suitable to the dignity of reason, to suffer the outrages of fortune patiently, or to take

  2. Thetheme of appearance versus reality in Hamlet.

    This is the point where Hamlet had enough. Hamlet saw through Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?s fidelity, and saw that the end needed to come because he is tired of them being deceitful with him. Hamlet changes the contents of the letter they brought, which is originally his own death sentence, and he changes it so that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern die.

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