Hamlet and Loyalty

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Through its portrayal of human experience, Shakespeare’s Hamlet reinforces the significance of loyalty. To what extent does your interpretation of Hamlet support this view?

The play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare explores the ideas and connections between the principles of loyalty and disloyalty. These ideas engross Hamlet, who’s experiences result in the unfolding of the revenge tragedy. This portrayal of such human experience is expressed through Hamlet’s loyalty to the dead King, his lack of loyalty to himself, loyalty to his beliefs and the contrasting motivations of Hamlet, Laertes and Fortinbras. The significance of loyalty expressed throughout Hamlet allows the play to exceed time as its values are essential to all of humanity.

The conflict of the play is centred on Hamlet’s uncertainty concerning his loyalty to his father’s ghost. When the Ghost first appears to Hamlet, retelling the story of his ‘foul’ murder, Hamlet is quick to take action expressing his utter loyalty to his father in the simile, “That I with wings as swift/ As meditation or the thoughts of love/ May sweep to my revenge.” However as the play progresses he begins to question the Ghost, the use of antithesis identifies his uncertainty, “Be thou a spirit of health, or a goblin damned,/ Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,/ Be thy intents wicked or charitable.” Hamlet may be incapable of avenging his father’s death however he is capable of such actions as sending Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their deaths and manipulating people to reveal their inner conscience. This suggests Hamlet’s inaction is due to his distrust and lack of loyalty to the Ghost, reflecting him as like a true renaissance man who relies on evidence to verify an accusation. Hamlet’s loyalty to his father is questioned as he begins to procrastinate the murdering of Claudius suggesting he is not yet convinced of the Ghost.

Loyalty is of importance when referring to onesself, as it is essential...
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