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How do you respond to Shakespeare's presentation of the responsibilities and obligations placed on sons by fathers in the play as a whole?

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How do you respond to Shakespeare's presentation of the responsibilities and obligations placed on sons by fathers in the play as a whole? Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, is a play based on the theme of revenge (otherwise known as a revenge tragedy). However there are other themes to this play that may not be as obvious as the main. Love, hate, madness are all other themes to this play, along with the theme of responsibility to sons and fathers. This theme is sustained throughout the whole play when, at the climax, the responsibility of avenging his dead father is finally undertaken by Hamlet. The first example of the responsibility of fathers and sons is right at the beginning of the play with Hamlet and his father the old King Hamlet. When Hamlet is informed about the appearance of his father's ghost Hamlet is not surprised, he just says "My fathers spirit-in arms! All is not well. I doubt some foul play". This shows that maybe deep down Hamlet had some inkling that his father was killed instead of just dying, which is what Gertrude believes. Later on in the play Hamlet gets his chance to speak with the ghost, and so begins the theme of revenge. Just as he expected the ghost is of his father, dressed in his wartime armour (this may signify that he is in some sort of defensive mode as if he has just been attacked, later this can be linked to his murder by Claudius). ...read more.


He then continues by saying, "The play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king". During this play Claudius becomes very agitated and decides to leave, which proves his guilt. Hamlet now knows he must avenge his father by killing Claudius; he follows him and discovers him praying. Hamlet contemplates killing him right there but doesn't. Hamlet knows that if he kills Claudius while he is praying it will just send him to heaven. Hamlet ponders this for a few seconds, "Now might I do it pat, now 'a is a-praying. And now I'll do 't. And so 'a goes to heaven; And so am I reveng'd. That would be scann'd: A villain kills my father, and for that I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven". Hamlet decides not to kill Claudius at this point, choosing to wait until he is committing an act of sin, which will send him to hell. There are many times that Hamlet contemplates killing Claudius, but he seems too scared to actually do anything about it. In his soliloquies he states how badly he hates Claudius, he says things like "I should have fathered...with this slaves offal". This is comparing Claudius to a slave, saying a slave would be better than him, and in Elizabethan times this would have been a serious insult to a King. ...read more.


In his soliloquies he says things like "O villain, villain, smiling damned villain!" and "Bloody, bawdy villain! Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindles villain!" These words show how much Hamlet hated Claudius and how badly he wanted to kill him. However, the feeling was mutual, as Claudius did want to kill Hamlet and eventually did, through the use of Laertes and the poison sword. But what Claudius did not anticipate was the death of Gertrude, which was also his doing as she drunk from the poisoned cup that was meant for Hamlet. This shows that Claudius did not clearly think about his actions, and could be described as having a blind rage toward him, because he did not think about the consequences of his actions and for this he paid the price. Overall there are many relationships in Hamlet and responsibility is a main role. In my opinion Laertes seemed to deal with this responsibility in the best way as he just faced his problem head on without fail. Hamlet, on the other hand, just procrastinated, and eventually paid the price for this, as he may not have died had he just killed Claudius when he had the chance. However, the fact that Hamlet procrastinated may largely be due to the fact that he did have to cope with so much more pressure than Laertes, therefore it would be unfair to assume that he was putting it off whereas Laertes just got on with it. Hamlet also had much more to lose, his mother, Ophelia, his old friends and to an extent his mind. ...read more.

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