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"I hold my duty as I hold my soul both to my God and to my gracious king". In what ways does Hamlet challenge this statement then? In what ways does Shakespeare challenge this statement now?

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Introduction

"I hold my duty as I hold my soul both to my God and to my gracious king". In what ways does Hamlet challenge this statement then? In what ways does Shakespeare challenge this statement now? It is clear that Polonius' words in Act 2 Scene 2 epitomize an impression of order and certainty. Shakespeare challenges this statement by using both action and the characters, particularly Hamlet himself. Hamlet's individuality sets him aside from all the other characters as the hero of the play. This is revealed at the beginning of the play when, against the advice of his best friend Horatio, he follows the ghost into the unknown. "Horatio: Be rul'd; you shall not go" This comment from Horatio fully illustrates his whole character; he is a classical thinker and does not believe in encountering anything that would exceed the realms of his experience. When his experience goes against what he "knows" he exclaims; "Horatio: Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason And draw you into madness?" Horatio is Hamlet's best friend and intends to be at the princes side until death do them part. When this unfortunately transpires much more prematurely than he had thought he wishes to drink the rest of the poison from the cup and die with Hamlet. "Horatio: I am more an antique Roman than a Dane. Here's yet some liquor left." ...read more.

Middle

"Hamlet: It harrows my soul with fear and wonder." Shakespeare directly contrasts Hamlet and Leartes in this matter. Hamlet takes him time to consider the facts, but Leartes decides that he wants to kill Hamlet as soon as he discovers who killed Polonius. "Leartes: Let come what comes, only I'll be reveng'd Most thoroughly for my father." This illustrates Shakespeare's portrayal of how different people act in different ways to life. Hamlet finds it hard to believe that his mother remarried to soon after the death of his father, and that she married Claudius. "Hamlet: She married - O most wicked speed! To post With such dexterity to incestuous sheets." The ghost orders Hamlet not to harm his mother and this he obeys, but he does confront her about the matter. Hamlet wishes is to express his anger to Gertrude. He also wishes to somehow induce her to stop loving Claudius. The latter would mean that Gertrude would not condemn Hamlet for killing or attempting to kill Claudius if she did not love Claudius. Hamlet would have the freedom he would need to kill Claudius. Firstly Hamlet treats Gertrude badly, as his feigned insanity permits him to do. "Hamlet: ... almost as bad, good mother, As kill a king and marry his brother." However, his second goal is decidedly more difficult as one means of achieving it would be for Hamlet to kill his mother or make her go insane. ...read more.

Conclusion

This might make them support Hamlet in his endeavour, thus providing him with the support he needs to carry it out. Shakespeare portrays Hamlet as a tragic hero, although a very unique one, and that his ideas of throwing back the limitations of reason and exploring the inner aspect of his character are just as significant today, as they were in Shakespeare's time. Hamlet's strongest beliefs, as a renaissance man, are that people should not just stand for what they are told is right but look for their own answers. A modern genre audience would also be able to connect with these ideas, and so the play is very suitable for audiences today. Many of the ideas portrayed, in the play, are still significant today. For example, a very important aspect of life, portrayed in the play, is that of respect towards the King, or Queen, which is very important now as it was in Shakespeare's time. One aspect of the play that is not a part of life now is that of burial rules. When the grave diggers are preparing the grave for Ophelia they argue about whether she should be buried or not as they are not sure whether she committed suicide or not. Nowadays, whether a person commits suicide or not they still get a full burial. This is an alien idea to modern audiences and, therefore, stands out as strange. The majority of the play, though, is compatible with modern day audiences, and is, therefore, understood easily by those watching it. Alastair Baillie English Literature Coursework: Word Count = 1370 ...read more.

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