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Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, by William Shakespeare, tells the morbid tale of a young man's quest for revenge.

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Introduction

I. SUBJECT Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, by William Shakespeare, tells the morbid tale of a young man's quest for revenge. Set in Denmark during the Middle Ages, the play chronicles the assassination of a king and his brother's usurpation of the throne and insinuation into the king's old life, to the point of marrying the king's own widow. Hamlet, the young prince, is charged by his dead father's ghost to bring his uncle to justice and restore the rightful crown. When Claudius, Hamlet's uncle, comes to the realization that his young nephew has uncovered his murderous conspiracy, he resolves to assassinate the young prince as well. However, when his attempt to have Hamlet executed in England is foiled, he must find another means to surreptitiously remove the threat to his kingship. After Hamlet accidentally kills Polonius, Claudius' chief counselor, Polonius' son is filled with rage, resulting in Claudius concocting a plan to match Hamlet against Polonius' son, Laertes, in a duel to the death. II. THEME The theme primarily seen throughout the play Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is one of dilemma and indecision. This theme is reiterated often in the play, habitually in situations surrounding young Hamlet himself, due to his immaturity and inexperience. This is demonstrated as early as the opening of the play, in which Old Hamlet's ghost appears to Hamlet. Hamlet's difficulty in determining the difference between appearance and reality causes him to question whether the ghost is really a good spirit, or a devil trying to trick him. "Angels and ministers of grace defend us!-- / Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn'd, / Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell, / Be thy intents wicked or charitable, / Thou com'st in such a questionable shape" (Ham. ...read more.

Middle

Minor tones can be sensed throughout the story during certain areas. A feeling of morbidity can be felt while looking at specific sections of the story. This gruesome feeling is often felt in association with the scenes involving death, such as the graveyard scene in which the gravediggers are chuckling and singing as they dig Ophelia's grave. Irony is also another minor tone that can be found in several areas of the play. Hamlet truly loved Ophelia, and, by a twist of fate, he also caused her death in a roundabout way, in the murder of Polonius, whose death so depressed Ophelia that it lead her to insanity, and ultimately suicide. Irony is also especially evident in Claudius' death, in which he was forced to die in the same manner that he had planned for Hamlet. V. SYMBOLISM Different symbols represent different universal meanings in life and in the story. The most obvious symbol in the play is the poison that is used by Claudius in the murder of Old Hamlet. Poison is also used on the tip of Laertes' sword and in Claudius' drink in another attempt to assassinate Hamlet. This poison could also be seen as a symbol of the death and corruption spreading throughout Denmark as a direct result of Claudius' rule. Another symbol seen in the play is the murder of Old Hamlet by his own brother, Claudius. The death of Old Hamlet by Claudius traces back to the time of the first murder between brothers, and shows a religious parallelism in going back to the story of Cain and Abel. ...read more.

Conclusion

Elizabethan tragedy...though reflecting such Senecan traits such as sensationalism, bombast, and the use of the chorus and the ghost, departed from the Senecan method in placing the murders and horrors on the state, in response to popular Elizabethan taste... (472). This genre is also greatly accentuated in Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, particularly towards the climax of the play during the duel between Hamlet and Laertes, in Act V, Scene ii, which leads to the dramatic, and somewhat sensationalized, deaths of Hamlet, Claudius, Laertes, and Gertrude onstage. X. Metrics Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is a play that primarily uses blank verse. The Handbook to Literature defines blank verse as "unrhymed but otherwise regular verse, usually iambic pentameter" (62). The four lines below are spoken by Hamlet as be deliberates on whether to commit suicide or not. To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, (Ham. III. i. 1710-1714). These lines are written in iambic pentameter, although each of these lines contain an extra unstressed syllable at the end of each line. The majority of the play uses blank verse. However, there are certain areas in Hamlet, Prince of Denmark that employ prose in order to show intense feeling, as demonstrated in Act II, Scene ii. "...l tell you why; so shall my anticipation / prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and / queen moult no feather I have of late,--but wherefore / I know not,--lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises" (Ham. II. ii. 1340-1343). Prose is also commonly used for expressing madness. 2 ...read more.

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