Hamlet Essay

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Hamlet explores themes that are universal and transcend time. The dichotomy of order and disorder that characterises the human condition and the struggle to make sense of the world are major themes in Hamlet. These timeless concerns that everyone can identify with, have given Hamlet textual integrity and an enduring power to sustain interest since the sixteenth century.

Created in the Elizabethan period of the late sixteenth century, Hamlet depicts a country that is in political and social disorder. My own understanding of the text is that it is in Hamlet’s nature to desire order out of turmoil. Betrayal is the cause of Denmark’s political turmoil, as well as Hamlet’s personal disarray. To restore order, Hamlet seeks to elicit the truth from deception. To do this, he assumes a directorial role; a metaphor for control, seen especially in the metatheatricality of Act Three Scene Two’s re-enactment of his father’s murder. The tropes of deceit continue throughout the play, as Hamlet attempts to find the truth that must underpin the re-establishment of order in Denmark. This can be seen in Hamlet’s punning when he says to Polonius that he is reading “words, words, words” as he tries to expose Polonius, and his disparaging comment exposing the façade of grief shown by Claudius, who has only “but the trappings and the suits of woe”. The social and political disunity in Denmark is conveyed through the use of the extended metaphor of an “unweeded garden” that produces “things rank and gross in nature”. Although the ‘chain of being’ was of value in Shakespeare’s time, it still has relevance in today’s society. Today, we still struggle to maintain order in our society. This play’s valuing of order is embedded in human nature and is therefore, timeless.

Hamlet is concerned with personal disorder and the struggle to make sense of the world; themes that relate back to the universal human condition. In Act 3 Scene 1, Hamlet contemplates suicide. He says, “to die, to...
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