Animal Imagery in Hamlet

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In Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, animalistic imagery is seen throughout the play and intertwines many characters. There are two main types of animalistic behaviors seen in the play. First there are the common predator-prey relationships that are visible in all animalistic societies. In the animal kingdom there is a food chain where some smarter or more cunning animal hunts or tracks down the weaker animal, thus a predator-prey relationship. Second is the idea that the people in the play are similar to animals in their lack of any morals or any rational thought. Many characters act as if they have no morals at all. They exemplify the way not to be, as if they have no heart or soul.

The two most benevolent predator-prey relationships were between Claudius and Hamlet and vice versa. The two characters were both scheming of when and where to kill the other one. First there is Hamlet. Hamlet becomes a predator of Claudius when he gets confirmation from the ghost to kill Claudius regarding the revenge for his father. When Hamlet comes upon Claudius while he is in the confessional Hamlet has the chance to kill him. "Now I do it {pat,} now he is a-praying'/ And now I'll do't" (3.3.77-78). He doesn't, for if he killed him while he was praying Claudius would go to heaven. Wanting Claudius to go to Hell, shows that Hamlet does not care about the welfare of Claudius. Hamlet thinking it was Claudius attacked Polonius behind the curtain. He is seeking the revenge of his father, but kills the wrong man do to him not knowing the fact that it was Polonius. Claudius is not really the prey of Hamlet. He himself is a predator of Hamlet. After the play the "Mousetrap", Claudius realizes that Hamlet knows about the murder he committed. At this point he takes on a big predatory mind set toward Hamlet. He sees that he must eliminate Hamlet which he attempts when he sends Hamlet off to England for his death which he discloses "The present death of Hamlet. Do it,...
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