Although audiences of today have not experienced such a controversy among the royal family as in the 1600s, they would still understand how immoral the marriage between Claudius and Gertrude is and would recognise how it brings instability in the royal household and consequently the state. Although, some of those in a modern audience would see it as an affair too close too home which is likely to cause emotional distress for Hamlet rather than as incestuous. Modern audiences would also understand how the state depends on the control and stability of the royal family.
If there is decay and dislocation in the royal family, the state will suffer. Subsequently, the state ‘transforms’ from a place of peace to “an unweeded garden” in which there is disorder. This imagery of the “unweeded garden” clearly illustrates the idea of ‘transformation’. Denmark used to be a state where there was control and order, just like a garden. However, the same way a garden that has not been looked after produces weeds, is the same way a country without control creates disorder.
This then leads to chaos and finally foul play leaving the state “rank and gross in nature”.
During Hamlet, not only Denmark goes through a ‘transformation’, the characters themselves go through a ‘transformation’ during the course of the play. The language used shows this. Looking at Claudius’ language in the beginning of the play, it is confident and eloquent. He deals with four items of business: his accession; the threat from young Fortinbras; Laertes’s suit and Hamlet’s behaviour. There are no interruptions during the King’s speech other than agreement from his faithful courtiers.
However, this only occurs because each of them are involved in the manipulation of the kingdom as they gain great rewards from their king. Each affair is emphasised with a caesura. “Taken to wife. ” underlines that Gertrude is his wife, no questions asked and “So much for him. ” ends all conversation to do with the previous king. Intellectual language is also used ” filial obligation” which shows his authority as king. However, as the play progresses, Claudius’ character ‘transforms’ into a different king. During the scene in which Claudius prays for forgiveness, the audience are confronted with a different character.
The language here is very unlike the language in the beginning of the play. There are many questions and the character becomes trapped in the language. “What then?… What rests?… What can it not? ” The language also emphasises the character’s now tortured soul as in the syntax “Pray can I not” instead of “I can not pray”. It could be argued that as Denmark changes, so does its king. The decay and dislocation of the state has an effect on Claudius and so instead of being in control like before, he is unable to hold the state together.
Like Claudius, Hamlet also ‘transforms’ during the play. One might say that this character is the core concept of ‘transformation’. The language in the beginning of the play displays Hamlet’s weariness conveyed by the listless tempo of the words “How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable”. The verse starts and stops, punctuated by expressions of pain and confusion: “-why, she”… “she married-O most wicked speed! ” Hamlet ‘transforms’ from circumstances in which he cannot understand himself or the world he is living in into states of despair or even anger.
Hamlet often questions the existence of man “what piece of work is a man? ” and Shakespeare shows the character’s incomprehension with long speeches containing long sentences in which there are many questions Hamlet is asking himself such as: “What is this quintessence of dust? ” Shakespeare shows Hamlet’s despair with dismal consistency of tone and tempo as the character seeks to find out whether he is equal to the task that has been set. This contrasts with scenes in which the language of Hamlet is agitated and irritated.
Shakespeare emphasises his disgust with disease imageries referring to prostitutes especially when confronted with Gertrude or Ophelia: “… you jig, you amble… ” In the ‘closet scene’, while Hamlet speaks to his mother, his language ‘transforms’ once again. The words used are similar to that which a preacher uses “… for love of grace… Confess yourself to heaven… repent… virtue… ” However, the greatest ‘transformation’ affecting Hamlet, happens when Hamlet has just returned from England. The encounter with Fortinbras’ army encourages
Hamlet to reflect on the nature of honour and resolves him to have bloody and impulsive thoughts: “O, from this time forth My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth. ” (iv. iv. 65-4) Hamlet announces: “This is I, Hamlet the Dane” (v. i. 251-2) And in doing so, he demonstrates that he finally understands who he is and what responsibilities he must uphold. Transformation occurs not only through Denmark but also through the characters. The closing action of the play is the removal of the bodies from “the field” and this could be seen as the finally ‘transformation’.
The bodies from the Denmark in which there was corruption and dislocation are removed in order to make way for a new Denmark, a Denmark for the living. Whether this final action determines a positive outcome for the state is for the audience to decide, however, the atmosphere at the end of the play contains some element of hope rather than complete despair as in the opening scene. The theme of ‘transformation’ therefore introduces and concludes Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet.
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Unweeded garden. (2017, Jul 27). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/unweeded-garden-essay