Question 1: Laertes and Polonius provide several explanations of their reasons for Ophelia to stop seeing Hamlet. Both their opinions appear to be unreasonable, which is evident through their oppressive and restrictive attitudes. Laertes believes Ophelia is beneath Hamlet on social level, therefore he voices that the prince’s, “choice must be circumscribed.” This is unreasonable as Laertes is diminishing Ophelia’s confidence by referring to the fact that Hamlet’s partner will be chosen for him, and Ophelia would not fit this role, or be considered for it. Laertes continues to refer to Hamlet in a negative matter, stating that his, “love,” is, “not permanent,” and, “the perfume and suppliance of a minute,” meaning it is brief, and temporary. Polonius also presents unreasonable arguments as to why Ophelia should stop seeing Hamlet.
The hypocritical nature of Polonius is evident through his commands to Ophelia: “To thine own self be true,” which is later followed by, “you’ll tender me a fool.” It is clear that Polonius is only concerned with sculpting Ophelia to act a specific way to ensure that his own reputation is not tainted. Polonius states, “give every man thine ear, but few thy voice.” This also acts as a contrast to the previous statement, as Ophelia cannot be true to herself if she has to, “reserve,” her true self. Evidently, Polonius offers an unreasonable opinion to encourage the discontinuation of Ophelia’s relationship with Hamlet. Question 3: Both soliloquies voiced by Hamlet contain similar ideas and concepts, which are crucial to understanding the nature of his character.
The two soliloquies present Hamlet as an isolated figure, which is seen by the language such as, “and thy commandment all alone shall live,” and, “break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.” These statements express the mental anguish Hamlet is experiencing in his, “distracted globe,” a metaphor for his scattered thoughts. The soliloquies also contain elements of hatred towards women. For Hamlet it particularly involves his mother, however he generalises his statement by voicing, “frailty, thy name is woman!” This is continued in his second soliloquy where Hamlet states, “O most pernicious woman!” Evidently Hamlet struggles to respect the role of women and the mannerisms of his mother, whom he refers to as a, “beast,” who married Claudius at a, “wicked,” speed. Question 6: Hamlet gives signs for potential madness in his first soliloquy, where he desires to commit suicide if it were not for the fact that “God” is, “’gainst self slaughter.” He refers to his hatred towards the world and it’s, “weary, stale, and unprofitable,” atmosphere.
The negativity towards the nature of the world expressed by Hamlet provides a possible reason as to why he often isolates himself. Isolation is a dynamic that ultimately lead to madness, which is eventually what occurs with Hamlet. Furthermore, the audience obtains an indication of Hamlet’s potential for madness in the scene where he tells Horatio and Marcellus to, “swear,” their silence in relation to the ghost. Hamlet explains that he will put on an, “antic disposition,” which means he will, behave in a strange manner. The irony in this statement is that Hamlet does in fact go mad, and he announces this to Horatio and Marcellus as a means of giving himself permission to act, “out of joint.” Question 7: Claudius attempts to win over Denmark with his charming and manipulative behaviour, which is seen in the irony of his words: “Our dear brother’s death, the memory be green.”
Claudius associates the death of his brother with new life and growth, so when the audience becomes aware of the, “unnatural,” and, “foul,” murder he committed, we are confronted with his wickedness. To establish his popularity Claudius repeatedly uses language that signifies national unity such as the, “jointress of this warlike state,” and “our hearts…our whole kingdom.” This conscious work displayed by Claudius demonstrates his methodology in having Denmark view him as a compassionate and practical King. Question 8: There is a reference to the fact that Denmark is a Catholic country when the ghost states that he was, “cut off even in the blossoms of my sin/Unhousel’d, disappointed, unaneled;/no reckoning made”
This provides evidence for Catholicism as the apparition was not able to confess his sins (died without the Last Rites). A second reference which expresses Denmark as a Catholic country is shown when Hamlet remarks, “O, that this too too solid flesh would melt/Thaw and resolve itself into a dew! Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d/ His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter.” This excerpt indicates that Hamlet wished to commit suicide, but cannot as it is considered wrong in the eyes of God, therefore he would not be able to forgive himself in the afterlife. This is why Hamlet wishes he could, “melt,” which would save him from the guilt he would feel due to self-slaughter.
There are significant differences between the previous King Hamlet and King Claudius. The audience is given evidence that Old King Hamlet was a respectable and genuine leader through Prince Hamlet’s remark, “So excellent a king…so loving” It is clear the King Hamlet was honest and caring in all his actions; this contrasts with King Claudius’ character, who is scheming and power-hungry, so much so that he murdered his own brother, which he concealed due to his deceptive personality. King Hamlet tackled foreign policies openly and was so good a leader that he defeated Old Fortinbras, which had him take his land for the people of Denmark. King Claudius acts in a less honourable manner, where he leads Denmark on the basis of impressions, similar to politicians as seen in the modern age.
Courtney from Study Moose
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