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

I hold my duty as i hold my soul both to my God and to my Gracious King - In what ways does Shakespeare challenge this statement then? In what ways does Shakespeare challenge this statement now

Extracts from this document...


ZEENA PRICE FEBRUARY 2002 'I HOLD MY DUTY AS I HOLD MY SOUL BOTH TO MY GOD AND TO MY GRACIOUS KING,' IN WHAT WAYS DOES SHAKESPEARE CHALLENGE THIS STATEMENT THEN? IN WHAT WAYS DOES SHAKESPEARE CHALLENGE THIS STATEMENT NOW? Polonius' statement, found in Act Two, Scene Two, reflects the symmetry and order of the society he lives in. He inhabits a world of certainty and medieval convention. The play can be seen to challenge the statement, both in the action and in the characters, particularly in the character of Hamlet himself. It is Hamlet, the 'renaissance' man of the play, whose controversial attitude is constantly seen to challenge the medieval certainties that could still be seen in Jacobean society. Value was placed on duty to the monarch and to God; the institution of marriage was sacred and scientific reasoning was absolute and definite. All these things are challenged in Shakespeare's Hamlet. The social and cultural climate of Jacobean society was such that certainties and conventions were held in high esteem- Shakespeare's Hamlet is written in the context of, for example, the social hierarchy of the time, the medieval court, and religion. All of these are challenged in the play by both the characters and the plot. Even the very form of the statement challenges these certainties, for the couplet is a chiasmus- the symmetrical structure reflects the very nature of the society in which Polonius lives. ...read more.


Take thy fortune: Thou find'st to be too busy in some danger.' Polonius is clearly at home in this ordered society and shows a passive acceptance of the status quo. He has a simple medieval outlook on life and clearly values his duty to his God and king; however, he dies by ridiculous accident. Although throughout his life he has clearly endeavoured to serve these two entities to the best of his ability, he still dies an unnatural, brutal death. Shakespeare is therefore illustrating the irrelevance that these values have to life, both in Shakespeare's era and now. The statement which Polonius makes in Act Two Scene Two about duty to God and King allows the reader to infer a lot about the character of Polonius and the world in which he lives- he does not seek new experience. These medieval certainties are also challenged in the character of Claudius. He is obviously not on the side of God- indeed, he seems to contradict the very reasoning of the church by the brutal manner in which he murders the king. It is ironic therefore that he seems to declare himself king by divine right as he actually dies with a guilty conscience: 'There's such divinity doth hedge a king That treason can but peep to what it would, Acts little of his will.' Here it appears that Claudius has conveniently forgotten exactly how he became king. ...read more.


Reasoning in Medieval Denmark where the play is set nor indeed in Jacobean society is not so different to our reasoning today- the majority of people today may not believe in ghosts but characters in the play, such as Horatio, and some people in Jacobean society do not believe in ghosts either. In Act one, scene five, Hamlet makes this very thought- provoking comment to Horatio: 'There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy'. We have our certainties today- in the form of scientific reasoning; but our certainties are equally open and capable of being challenged. One of the main themes in Hamlet is death- we are still uncertain about what happens after we die. The character of Hamlet himself has a romantic, post modernist way of thinking; everything is relative and there are no certainties- only thoughts: 'Nothing is good or bad. Thinking makes it so.' In a sense here Hamlet can be compared to the Romantics. Keats wrote in the context of Shakespeare: ''Twixt damnation and impassion'd clay'. ('On Sitting Down To Read King Lear') This in a sense is what underpins Shakespeare's Hamlet- the idea that whatever certainties are held in any given era will always be questionable, and open to discussion. Our certainties will always be challenged because nothing is definite, or absolute. This romantic concept is based on the idea that this is what life is about- challenging certainties in order to try and discover the ineffable truth about this world and the next. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level 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 AS and A Level Hamlet essays

  1. Scene by Scene - Hamlet.

    The next day, the two spies visit with the king and queen, as well as Polonius, who has brought Ophelia. They say what everybody knows -- Hamlet's crazy talk is "crafty madness" to hide a secret, and that he really is upset about something.

  2. Claudius has been presented in the theatre as a worthy King and Polonius as ...

    does a' this - he does - what was I about to say? By the mass I was about to say something. Where did I leave?"; Shakespeare also transfers from blank verse into prose, accentuating Polonius' loss of grip. However, this may actually be cleverly checking if Reynaldo is listening;

  1. In what ways does the play challenge this statement in Shakespeare's time? In what ...

    Did Shakespeare and his audience really believe in ghosts? We find that even in the play there are sceptics for example in act one, scene one, Horatio says: "Tush, tush, 'twill not appear" (act one, scene one) (33) However Horatio, man of reason, is "harrowed with fear and wonder" by seeing something he doesn't believe in.

  2. Criticism on Hamlet

    loving in the silent depths of her young heart far more than she is loved. When her brother warns her against Hamlet's importunities - For Hamlet, and the trifling of his favour, Hold it a fashion, and a toy in blood, A violet in the youth of primy nature, Forward

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