Hamlet and Structural Functionalism

Topics: Sociology, Émile Durkheim, Anomie Pages: 4 (1512 words) Published: February 25, 2013
E: Evaluate the role of family in a character’s success or failure in Hamlet.

In the famous play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, family takes an enormous part in the failure in the main character, Hamlet. What is interesting about his family dynamic and the way his family affects Hamlet’s actions, is that it directly correlates to Emile Durkheim’s theory on structural functionalism. It is a theory that studies our social structure and culture, and how they work together and affect us. Durkheim suggests that our social system is made up of a bunch of different parts and when one of these components gets taken away, we suffer and go into normlessness- which Durkheim refers to as anomie. Anomie is an indication of a loss of our sense of values and rules of conduct, creating problems. In relation to the play Hamlet, we can establish a connection between structural functionalism and Hamlet’s family through the losses he encounters throughout the book. While dealing with the death and re-appearance of his father, his uncle’s deceit and his mother’s betrayal, he finds himself falling into anomie while overthinking, and becoming mad in result of his loneliness.

In the beginning of the play Hamlet, we are promptly made aware of Hamlet’s family situation and what has recently happened with his father, Old Hamlet. When a child is born, the parent of the same sex as the child will usually be the one they feel the biggest connection with. There’s a feeling of common understanding, and when one gets that individual taken away it truly is devastating. That is how it was for Hamlet. We get to see the gravity of his father’s death destroying his optimism, when he’s talking to Claudius and tells him that people can act sad, but he has real grief beneath the clothes that he wears. “Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief, That can denote me truly. These indeed “seem,” For they are actions that a man might play. But I have that within which passeth show, These but...
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