Conflict in Hamlet

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The words “something is rotten in the state of Denmark” are spoken by Marcellus. This statement could refer to many things about Denmark that are “rotten” as the play is full of disputes and corruption. The play starts off with a mental conflict in the minds of Horatio, Bernardo and Marcellus when they see a ghost and are unsure of what it is and what it represents. Later on in the play, when they take Hamlet to see the ghost who they believe is his father, they comment how he comes in such a “questionable form” and ask him if he is a “spirit of health” or a “goblin damn’d”. They do not understand whether he is good or evil, why he is there or what he wants from them and all these questions are the root of the state of turmoil their minds enter. The ghost reveals his objective to Hamlet, telling him that “if thou didst ever thy dear father love, revenge his foul and most unnatural murder”. This puts pressure on Hamlet to avenge his beloved father and although he is determined to do it, he does not feel that he is fit enough – this adds to all the internal conflict that he is already overwhelmed with. Hamlet speaks his first important soliloquy (Act 1 Scene 2) after being asked by Gertrude and Claudius not to return to university at Wittenburg but to remain in Denmark, presumably against his wishes. Here, Hamlet contemplates suicide for the first time. He wants his flesh to “melt” and wishes God had not made “self-slaughter” a sin, saying that the world is “weary, stale, flat and unprofitable”. This suggests that his father’s death has really put everything into perspective for him, and he no longer cares about the now-insignificant things. In essence, suicide seems like a covetable alternative to life in a painful, empty world, but the option is closed to him because the Church law forbids it. He describes the world as an “unweeded garden” because he feels that in his father’s absence everything has changed for the worse. He sustains the metaphor saying that...
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