• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Examine the presentation of fathers in "Hamlet" with close reference to three key scenes.

Extracts from this document...


"Hamlet" Tom Spooner Examine the presentation of fathers in "Hamlet" with close reference to three key scenes: Claudius, Old Hamlet and Polonius are all fathers and the way in which each is presented by Shakespeare is quite different. On the surface, the play is a revenge tragedy in which a grieving son seeks to avenge the death of his murdered father. However I think it has been very cleverly crafted by Shakespeare around a bleak theme of appearance versus reality that explores the corrupt, sinister region of the human nature that is present beneath the surface of us all. Shakespeare's portrayal of many of the characters in the play and in particular of fathers is as both malevolent and egotistical. Claudius' hypocrisy masquerades as fatherly love and concern; Polonius' obsequiousness and search for position masquerades as service to the King, using his daughter as a pawn in the process; Old Hamlet's torment and manipulation of Hamlet's emotions is passed off as regaining his honour. On the surface fathers are presented by Shakespeare as having to be loved, honoured and obeyed almost without question. However the effect this has on their children is quite catastrophic leading to resentment, repression, bitterness, madness and eventually death. I will examine the way each of these characters is presented with close reference to Act 1 Scene II (Claudius), Act 1 Scene V (Old Hamlet) ...read more.


It is asthough Shakespeare is drawing an analogy between the natural relations of a father and the established order of the state and between the more unnatural relations of step-father and the rotten state of Denmark. In Act 1 Sc.V, Old Hamlet speaks to Hamlet for the first time in the play. He is presented as a noble man, not seeking the pity of Hamlet but expecting him to listen to what it is he has to say "pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing to what I shall unfold." He uses ghastly imagery of Purgatory in order to ward off Hamlet from the same fate, which shows he cares for his son, even in death. However it could also be intended to evoke feelings of rage in Hamlet and stir him to take action. At the same time, he manipulates Hamlet to do his bidding, "Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder." Old Hamlet's manipulation of his son's emotions and Hamlet's love and obedience for his deceased father are demonstrated when the ghost commands him to listen "List, list, O list! If though didst ever thy dear father love." Hamlet still lingers on the death of his father and the thought of his unnatural murder causes him to turn to revenge. ...read more.


Following the murder of Polonius at the hands of Hamlet, Ophelia is driven to insanity by the death of her father and the realization that Hamlet no longer loves her. She walks about the castle, singing scraps of love-songs and handing out flowers, each a symbol of her lament. To Laertes she gives rosemary and pansies which are associated with remembrance and sorrow. They are given as a symbol of commemoration and sorrow for the loss of their father. The imagery used here by Shakespeare shows that both Ophelia and Laertes do love their father despite the manner in which he abused them. In discussing characterization, themes and Shakespeare's use of language it would appear that fathers are presented in a bad light. Shakespeare does not seem to have much sympathy with them and they are presented in such a way that their behaviour towards their children has devastating effects. There are however some redeeming features that shine through but generally speaking any apparent good qualities conceal obverse, ulterior motives and destructive forces. All three characters whether perpetrators or a victim, like Old Hamlet, are representative of the corrupting of the state of Denmark and the old order. At the same time they are indicative of the appearance versus reality theme and the masks that the human character will hide his darker side behind and what can happen if this side is allowed to prevail. Word Count: 2,226 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Hamlet section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Hamlet essays

  1. Endgame" is written in the unique style associated with Samuel Beckett's works- a minimalist, ...

    Yes there it is, it's time it ended and yet I hesitate to..." Hamm's broken dialogue shows his uncertainty for the future and although he ponders on his "end", he does not reach a firm conclusion. Beckett uses simple language which echoes the repetitive, basic stage directions, "He goes to Hamm, removes sheet covering him, folds it over his arms."

  2. Portrayal of women in 'Hamlet'

    It is fairly easy to come to the conclusion that Ophelia is manipulated, not a manipulator, but with Gertrude it is far harder to ascertain. It could be argued that Gertrude is weak, stupid and co-dependant, pressured into marriage by a powerful Claudius, and her need to have someone.

  1. The Portrayal of Shakespeare's Hamlet in Cinema

    The plays of Shakespeare were performed but often were unrecognisable from their original form. The plots often remained and stayed as part of a national cultural heritage for many but the text was frequently adapted in extreme. They were often vehicles for the star performer of the day and had

  2. The Effects of Ambiguity in Hamlet

    The ambiguity makes the audience critically think about the conflict in order to form an opinion in an attempt to understand the subject matter. The unknown draws attention; therefore by omitting certain details about conflicts, he draws the attention of the audience to key points of the play he wishes to emphasize.

  1. In conclusion the attitudes towards women in the plays Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida and ...

    The women don't form their own views and opinions. They are shown as obedient to the male characters. The portrayal of women in this way shows that the attitude towards them in the play Hamlet is not one of equality. Women are seen as the inferior sex. The main female character in Troilus and Cressida is the character of Cressida.

  2. Consider the significance of death and disease in 'The Duchess of Malfi' and 'The ...

    This seems to be in order to stress an important point and to make the line memorable later in the play when the prediction comes true. If we compare Webster to Shakespearean tragedy it is clear that the imagery of death often starts right at the beginning of the play

  1. Justice in Shakespeare's Hamlet

    They are sent for by Claudius who tells them, "The need we have to use you did provoke our hasty sending" (II.ii.3-4). This great need is for them to find out exactly what is wrong with Hamlet. It is known that Hamlet is such good friends with them because Gertrude

  2. Can we write about the tragedy of Hamlet in any meaningful fashion

    and one can parallel the transformation of Hamlet's surroundings with the historical movement from what many view to be the Elizabethan 'Golden Age', a time of order and stability, to one of rapid change. J. Donne reflects upon this phenomenon in 'The First Anniversary', writing; "And new philosophy calls all

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work