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An exploration of how Shakespeare presents Hamlet's fear of death.

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Introduction

An exploration of how Shakespeare presents Hamlet's fear of death. In Hamlet, Shakespeare focuses on the complications arising from love, death, revenge, and betrayal, without offering the audience a decisive and positive resolution to these complications. This is due to the simple fact that, for Hamlet, there can be no definitive answers to life's most daunting questions of meaning and of death. Hamlet's struggle to make sense of the consequences of his decision to avenge his father's death is shown through his hesitancy and his "thinking too precisely." At the beginning, Shakespeare presents Hamlet as a very melancholy character as he is introduced in the second scene in his "inky cloak" and he insists to the queen that his mourning takes "all forms, moods and shapes". This could be interpreted as Shakespeare's presentation of Hamlet's disobedience to his uncle who is celebrating his marriage and kingship. At the time the play would have been performed, the audience would realize that Hamlet wearing dark colours would be foreboding of what is to come later in the play. There is a contrast of colours which also shows Hamlet's mourning this leads Shakespeare onto the first soliloquy where Hamlet has thoughts of "self-slaughter"; thoughts such as these were very sinful. The reason for Hamlet's melancholy is because he is angry at his mother; this could also be construed as jealousy because he is very close to his mother. ...read more.

Middle

Although Hamlet is keen to "speak to it", his fear of whether it is "a spirit of health or goblin damned" is very apparent, this is because he is obviously unsure whether it be from heaven or hell and if to believe it or not. He admits that in his state of melancholy that he is vulnerable to the devil and his evil. There are many arguments that this "spirit" could in fact be a devilish spirit having fun with Hamlet, and playing with his mind to drive him to commit these murders. Hamlet's dread of death is further portrayed in the second and third soliloquies. In the second soliloquy Hamlet talks a lot of heaven and hell, his fear is shown from the pity he shows to "thou poor ghost", which is actually the ghost of his father who comes to Hamlet asking him to avenge his death, but his fear is fuelling his rage to avenge his father. The ghost says "Leave her to heaven, / And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge/ To prick and sting her." He has told Hamlet to let his mother be judged by God and not to take vengeance on her. Hamlet forgets what the ghost says about his mother straight away as he damns the "pernicious woman". Hamlet makes a 'contract' to kill Claudius as he writes down what he is going to do; this at first is what is keeping him from "self slaughter". ...read more.

Conclusion

It shows that he is not afraid anymore, he is not anxious because he feels it is up to God to serve justice and he realises this in this last scene. Like Hamlet the audience may have been feeling afraid and they had empathy for Hamlet, but now he has lost his fear they have lost their fear as well. Shakespeare has cleverly presented Hamlet's mood as more lucid than ever in this scene "free me so far in your most generous thoughts" Hamlet is asking the people not to judge him from the way he has been acting recently, but to judge him on way he acts now. He is not 'mad' anymore. Finally, I have decided that Hamlet would have committed "self slaughter" long before, if it were not for his indecisiveness over his father and if, or how, and even when, to take revenge, which is tearing him apart inside. He shows this in Act two Scene two in his soliloquy, where he is overcome with emotion because he thinks he is dishonorable by not having killed Claudius "O what a rogue and peasant slave am I!"; also whether the spirit of his 'father' really is just that or if "The spirit that I have seen/ May be a devil" trying to lead Hamlet down the wrong course; and finally about Claudius and whether just killing him is enough or "that his soul may be as damn'd and black/ As hell, whereto it goes." Jamie Bale ...read more.

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