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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? The central feature in Shakespeare's Hamlet is of revenge, four revenge plots are evident throughout and have strong connections with father-son relationships. Perhaps some of the emphasis upon father's and sons is indebted to the fact that Shakespeare's own son, Hamnet, died in 1596 at the age of 11, approximately four years before Shakespeare wrote this play. The parallel between the name of Shakespeare's hero and that of his own son is too tempting to ignore. One possible hypothesis is that Shakespeare, while mourning his son's death, wrote a play that helped expiate his grief through an exploration of the relationships between four different sets of fathers and sons. Adding to the intrigue is the persistent rumour that Shakespeare the actor may have played the part of the Ghost in early productions of the play, which might explain why this morbid character has such an expansive dramatic role. Hamlet's grief over his father's gruesome death and his eventual meeting with Old Hamlet's ghost comprises only one of four important father-son relationships in the play. All of which relate to death and dying in some respect. The others include Polonius and Laertes, Old Fortinbras and Young Fortinbras, and Uncle Claudius as surrogate parent to the young Hamlet while his absentee father was away from home smiting "the sledded Polacks on the ice". ...read more.


He cannot swallow Claudius's advice not to mourn the dead, except by concealing his discontent and outwardly deferring to him. Hamlet's father also asked to pray for him yet Hamlet only seeks revenge due to his extreme anger of the changing in society and the new marriage just 6 months after the old King's death. I find it extremely odd when Hamlet says that he is ''prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell'', as if he is repressing the real source of his prompting. His father has asked him to seek revenge and called Claudius's actions as ''horrible'', yet he asks his own son to imitate the same crime. Surely these obligations set by Hamlet's father are also ''horrible'', and by asking Hamlet to commit the crime is very poor parenting on his part. He has put huge pressure on Hamlet and it could be a cause for his obvious hatred and debatable madness. Polonius and Laertes are portrayed as opposites in character. As a reader I cannot conclude that a happy relationship exists between the two of them. Laertes is a good and trusting son, who obeys his father unconditionally. Polonius meanwhile, is a suspicious character that perceives his son as an alcoholic and a womaniser. Polonius' distrust in his son is evident in Act 2, Scene 1, when he ordered his servant Reynaldo to spy on his son Laertes in France. ...read more.


Fortinbras father, King of Norway, was killed during battle for control of "a little patch of ground". Fortinbras' uncle claims the throne of Norway just as Hamlet's uncle takes the throne at Denmark. The deaths of old Hamlet and old Fortinbras directly link the common destiny of Fortinbras to that of Hamlet, to avenge the death of his father. It is because of this that the two young soldiers can be compared to each other. Fortinbras' taking action after his reasoning is contrasting to Hamlet's continual lackadaisical steps towards revenge. Fortinbras would have avenged his fathers death had Old Hamlet not been poisoned fatally by his brother and Denmark's new King Claudius. It is difficult therefore to talk about Fortinbras and old Fortinbras regarding responsibilities and obligations because of the extremely small part they play in Hamlet. Despite this, there is still an example of responsibilities and obligations placed on sons by fathers. Fortinbras did his father proud when in the concluding part of the play he receives Denmark as a gift from the dying Hamlet. Fortinbras had originally sought revenge on Denmark for his father's death so it can therefore be presumed he either had a strong relationship with his father or he had great respect for him. It seems in Shakespeare's time respect for parent's was massive, especially in the father-son relationships. This is evident in all of the father-son relationships in Hamlet. Other than that of King Claudius and Hamlet for obvious reasons. Word count: 1436 Jordan Smith Hamlet coursework essay Ms Mason ...read more.

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