Explain why the graveyard scene represents a shift in Hamlet’s psychological state of mind.
The graveyard scene represents how Hamlet’s psychological state has developed throughout the course of the play. He reflects upon various dilemmas which he has previously encountered before undertaking a renewed outlook in relation to life and death. He contemplates the corruption of death which is paralleled to that of which took place in the opening Act, concerning the death of his father. He further reveals his suppressed love for Ophelia which reverts back to his ‘antic dispossession’ enacted in the middle of the play, before re-evaluating his perception of death in the scene. In this way the scene explores the psychological journey on which Hamlet embarks throughout the play, as well as the eventual definitive shift. Hamlet’s initial psychological state of mind is characterised by significant melancholic depression derived from the social corruption of his father’s death. The extension of this corruption is the immediate rebound marriage of Gertrude and Claudius, much to Hamlet’s disgust. The blunt statement by a clown, “but rest her soul she’s dead” (Act 5 scene 1), astounds Hamlet as he highlights the corrupt nature of such a claim by the exclamation, “How absolute the knave is!” Hamlet’s disgust is paralleled to Act 1, in which he was overcome by melancholia and disgust. He describes the pleasures of the world as ‘weary, stale, flat and unprofitable’, while also implementing the invective of ‘incestuous sheets’ (Act 1 Scene 2). This is the birth of the ‘procrastination theory’ held by Coleridge in the early 18th C, although this idea is limited as it fails to account for Hamlet’s deep psychological conflict derived from the surrounding corruption. The sexual innuendo is an implication of Hamlet’s disapproval, significantly reducing his zest for life and appreciation for worldly pleasures. Social corruption is at the heart of Hamlet’s miserable state of being,...
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