Hamlet Literary Analysis

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  • Topic: Kübler-Ross model, Grief, Hamlet
  • Pages : 4 (1363 words )
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  • Published : January 29, 2002
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Elizabeth Kubler-Ross developed a theory based on what she perceived to be the stages of acceptance of death. Her theory has been taken further by psychologists and therapists to explain the stages of grief in general. Kubler-Ross identified five stages: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, as happening in that order. In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Hamlet exhibits all five stages of grief, we can assume in relation to the recent death of his father, but not necessarily in this order, and in fact the five seem to overlap in many parts of the play.

Instead of denial and isolation, which is the first stage according to Kubler-Ross, Hamlet dwells in a state of depression. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Department of Psychiatry states "Depression occurs as a reaction to the changed way of life created by the loss. The bereaved person feels intensely sad, hopeless, drained and helpless" (www.uams.edu). Hamlet's depression is revealed in his fourth soliloquy. "Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer/ Or take arms against a sea of troubles,/ And by opposing them? To die, to sleep;" (Shakespeare III.i.57-60) Meditative and weary Hamlet gives up on any hope for the future. He contemplates suicide making obvious his profound state of despair. Hamlet's thoughts of suicide continue in this painful speech, "His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! Oh God! God!/ How weary, stale flat and unprofitable,/ Seem to me all the uses of this world!/ Fie on't! Ah fie! ‘tis an unweeded garden" (I.ii.132-135) Here are a sickness of life, and even a longing for death, that strengthens Hamlet's intense depression.

While Hamlet may still be feeling depressed Hamlet moves into the stage of denial and isolation. Hamlet feels the effects of denial and isolation mostly due to his love, Ophelia. Both Hamlet's grief and his task constrain him from realizing this love, but Ophelia's own behavior clearly intensifies his frustration...
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