Hamlet Essay

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Shakespeare’s play Hamlet may be best appreciated as an exploration of the parameters of man’s freedom. Reflecting the turbulent Elizabethan times, Shakespeare demonstrates that the convoluted transition of worldviews, from medieval to humanist, complicates the individual’s search for truth about reality. Corruption imbues the play emanating from an act of free will by those in positions of traditional power, leading performance to become a key implement in uncovering the increasingly blurred boundaries between truth and illusion. Ultimately Shakespeare reveals the character’s fates have been determined from the outset, in identifying that death is a real part of what it means to be human. Hamlet retains textual integrity throughout time, as the ideas raised inform the transcendental quest for knowledge of the human condition. Claudius’s exploration of his free will engenders the corruption that pervades the play’s milieu. An “unweeded garden…rank and gross”, Hamlet’s disease imagery depicted Denmark in his first soliloquy foreshadows the morbid mood that stems from Claudius’s act of murder, resulting in the collapse of social traditions as his inversion of emotion suggests: “with mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage”. Shakespeare establishes Claudius and Gertrude as an embodiment of the threat humanism posed to the feudal system, as the violation of codes of behaviour through regicide gives them the freedom to explore the extent of their own power. Shakespeare elicits as a selfish indulgence of free will through incestuous language: “our sometimes sister, now our queen”. He does not condone their exploration because of the manner in which it is conducted, as their absolute defiance of convention causes the world to become a “quintessence of dust”. This corruption permeating Denmark influences Hamlet as he struggles to reconcile the conflict between the medieval and humanist worldviews. As an advocate for humanist philosophy, Hamlet is the controller of...
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