In many of the most famously renowned works of literature, the characterization of a character helps implicity illustrate the author’s overall theme or message that the author wants their audience to grasp within their works of literature. In William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, Shakespeare propitiously uses the characterizations of the various characters within the play to accentuate the legitimacy of the main theme of the play.
The main theme of the play is death, in which trickles further down into various of sub-categorial themes throughout the play, such as revenge, lies and deception,etc; thus illustrated through the brilliant use of indirect characterization, which further, successfully highlights the overall theme of the play.
The play begins with Horatio joins Marcellus and Bernardo on watch at the royal castle of Elsinore to confirm the reports of sightings of a ghost that closely resembles the late King of Denmark (Hamlet SR). Horatio suggests that Hamlet jr ( son of the late king of Denmark) to be informed of this supernatural sighting, believing that he will be more capable of finding and interpreting the purpose of the ghosts visitation Later on, during the beginning stages of the play, Claudius expresses his gratitude to his subjects and attendants for their assistance in the ceremonies at his brother’s funeral and his swift marriage to his brother’s wife, Gertrude.
Hamlet’s reaction towards his uncle’s words, come to illustrate Hamlet’s characterization of bitterness and anger towards, his mother of swiftly engagning in a incestrous marriage with the late King’s brother, months after his death.
Hamlet’s negative feelings that he expresses about his mother comes to help create the characters in his representation of the overall theme of the play, in which Shakespeare does brilliantly throughout the entirety of the play. The effective use of indirect characterization in illustrating Hamlet’s feelings towards his mother absolutely helped aid in the establishment of the theme of the play. This is perfectly employed the speech/inner thoughts that Hamlet expresses during Claudius’ speech by stating, “Fie on’t! ah fie! “Tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature Possess it merely. That it should come to this. But two months dead nay, not so much, not two. So excellent a king, that was to this.”(A1-S2).Hamlet is expressing his anger at the untimeliness of his mother’s marriage to King Claudius, brother of the late King Hamlet sr, in which further highlights how the Hamlet is characterized in the play, based on his inner dialogue with himself, thus illustrating Shakespeare’s overarching theme of the story.
Approaching the end of act, where the shift in characterization in Hamlet occurs, the ghost that Hamlet meets, when he’s with Horatio and the others comes to lead hamlet away from the others, revealing himself as the Spirit of Hamlet’s father and tells about how he was wistfully murdered by his own brother and calls for Hamlet to take it upon himself and seek vengeance against king Claudius, for the sake of his father’s behalf, while also being urged to spare his mother, Gertrude. The learning of how his father, the late King Hamlet died, shifted the overall characterization of hamlet; from being wistfully sorrowful and bitter to cold-hearted anger, burning with the tempting idea of revenge. This change in characterization that shakespeare implemented, brilliantly correlated with the shift in theme throughout the entirety of the play. The changing ideas of how the characters are characterized to the readers help give the audience a bigger view as to what the characters emotions are at the certain point of time, in which what the character says, thinks, does, and believes, serves as a microcosm for how the theme of either the entirety of a literary work, or a portion of it is going to be introduced to the audience in the later stages of the literary piece. Characterization, if used properly, serves as a great asset in illustrating the theme of a literary work, which can be further expressed throughout the entirety of a literary piece. Through the use of indirect characterization, emotionally descriptive dialogue ( both inner and outer dialogue) , and personification, Shakespeare was successful in showing the feelings of the characters in the play, serving as a rhetorical symbol of the characterization theme of the play. The genius that Shakespeare employs in the play is that throughout the play, the characters in the play rather develop rather than unfold as the play goes on, This gives a more effective impact on alluding to the overall theme of the play.
In Act 3 scene 4, Hamlet knows that it’s his destiny to kill claudius and tries to proceed on with killing him, but hesitates due to him wanting Claudius to suffer, not just in his death, but in the afterlife as well. Throughout this act, Hamlet’s inner dialogue within himself comes to illustrate his knowledge and awareness of the fate that he, and all men of this world of the living each share together; death. He knows the of the destined fate that everyone shares, but he cannot accept this fate. The powerful, hoarse, grasp that death has over the lives of all men is depicted as a vastly intimidating figure, that frightens Hamlet, and shows itself as a part of fate that everyone is binded to and cannot escape. In his soliloquy, “to be or not to be”,refers to whether if death is the only intended an for everyone and if everyone is bound by natural law to be prisoner of the cold, hoarse grasp that death holds over the lives of everyone of this world of the living. Hamlet also comes to the realization that death is not a choice that anyone can just freely experience and that the arrival of death can never be known,and no matter how much thinking and pondering that Hamlet does throughout the play, the course of revenge that he embarks will only lead to his death, and he cannot accept that. He ultimately believes that his true fate other than seeking vengeance, is the price that he will have to pay,when he achieves his goal,death. Hamlet’s own belief in what his destiny is helped shape the various actions that he took in fulfilling that duty of achieving vengeance of his father’s death, further characterizing the characters ideals of what his destiny is, and what he should do in obediently following his predetermined destiny. Hamlet’s conflict in whether he should avenge his father’s death often leads to him making so many rash decisions to the point in which, others were repeatedly calling him “mad” or ” intoxicated with insanity”. But even as the play goes on, some rhetorical analysis tend to infer that, “Hamlet ultimately achieves redemption and spiritual regeneration.” through his submission to the fate that all men of the universe share, death
From the very beginning of the play to the end of the play, Hamlet struggles with confronting his destiny head on, elevating the uneasiness that he feels about death, further rejecting the predetermined fate that everyone in this plane of the living, share amongst ourselves. Later on, he’s able face his fate head on, believing that destiny exists, and that one must be ready, at all times,to confront his destiny. As the play flows by, Hamlet’s own character development shifts from a person that doesn’t want to accept the universal fate that binds everyone, to a person that understands, and come to a consensus with his death, and accepts his fate. His overall readiness to accept death is the final development of his character; growing from a hesitant coward, to a man who has come to terms and agreements to his death. During Laertes challenge of hamlet in a duel to the death, in response to hamlet slaying his father, Polonius before hand, Hamlet decides to accept Laertes challenge of duel, knowing full well that Laertes aim was to deal the “death blow” that leads him towards the destiny that he now fully embraces. The strings of fate play their tune so that Hamlet and Laertes kill each, but it is not until Hamlet is on the brink of death that he realizes that he is finally able to achieve his goal, or completion of his destiny, by killing Claudius.Hamlet’s death wasn’t in vain, rather it was something quite remarkable and triumphant in the fact that he had to fight his own contrasting ideas and beliefs of death, and whether he can resist the chains of death that she, herself has on everyone of this world. Hamlet’s thoughts and fears about death changes throughout the entirety of the play, changing the characterization of that character, in response to the problem ahead, shifting the storyline of the play along, establishing the overarching theme of the whole play based on the character’s own viewpoints, passions, motivations, and beliefs that the character holds dear to themselves. By having the main character’s characterization evolve as the plot drags along, the reader is able to identity and justify the whole message of a literary piece and how it can relate to their everyday lives; this is one of the most successful uses of characterization that Shakespeare successfully employs throughout the whole play, from start to finish. The play later on ends with soldiers carrying the dead, lifeless body of Hamlet, with military rite symphonies filling the air, in honor of the late and recently deceased, Hamlet. This honor of hamlet comes to signify the celebration of the acceptance of fate and death of all men alike, whether you are rich or poor The acts and decisions that Hamlet portrayed throughout the entire duration of the play, whether it be his indecisive, rash, and impulsive nature, helped shape the overall shifts in sub-categorical themes presented throughout all the ACTS in the play, portraying that Hamlet isn’t a static character; his character is the example of a mirror that reflects the problems of hamlet’s world and distorts how the views of transcendentalism can be portrayed through the actions and beliefs of what a character in a literary piece identifies with.
Through the rigid development of the character, hamlet, throughout the play, William Shakespeare was successful in revealing the over archiving theme of the play, in the terms of how the main character responds to his outside world, contemplating between resisting his predetermined destiny, or embracing that destiny with open arms. The use of this type of indirect characterization vastly helped shape the overall shifts in theme that was vastly alluded to in the play. By doing so, Shakespeare was successful in delivering the message that he wanted the express to his audience, setting the foundation of the many philosophical ideals about life that we live by everyday
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