How Are Aspects of Disorder Developed in 'Hamlet'?

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Aspects of disorder are developed in act1 through the state of Denmark and the character backgrounds. Firstly, the audience is told that the recently widowed Queen has remarried quickly, to Claudius, Hamlets uncle; this would cause confusion, shown when the King says “mirth in funeral and dirge in marriage.” This shows confusion high up in society and could mean the whole state is confused. When Horatio, the wise scholar says “this bodes some strange eruption of our state” the audience would know that something isn’t right, because he is respected by all the other characters. Disorder is shown in the first characters we meet, Barnardo and Francisco, the guards. Francisco says “sick at heart” showing that the guards aren’t feeling like everything is right. This isn’t good because if the guards aren’t looking after the royalty then anything could happen. When Hamlet describes the worlds as “an unweeded garden…rank and gross in nature.” It shows how Hamlet is feeling positive about the world and he also agrees with Horatio, just on a bigger scale, as Hamlet talks about the world but Horatio talks about the “state”. We are also shown signs that characters are paranoid or have something to hide through the use and repetition of the word “seems” throughout Act1. Reasons for this are supported by Helen Gardener in “The Historical Approach to Hamlet.” When she writes “Hamlet is moving in a world where there are no certainties.” This causes the word “seems” to show that characters aren’t sure who to trust.

Act2 focuses on Hamlets disorder, the antic disposition he is putting on. Hamlet describes Denmark as a “prison”, he then goes on to say “Denmark being one o’th’worst.” This shows Hamlet feels that he is stuck and cannot get away, as the world is “a prison”. In Hamlets soliloquy in scene 2, he cannot decided on one emotion, in this process he goes through many, however none of these are positive until he realises he can get his revenge. Some of the emotions are; self loathing, shown when he says “rogue and peasant slave am i!” this shows that Hamlet doesn’t see himself as someone who is royal or someone who deserves to be in line to the throne. Hamlet also goes through his thoughts and seems to be wondering about life when he says “tears in his eyes…a broken voice…and all for nothing!” This shows that Hamlet is jealous of the amount of emotion the Player can show for people he never knew, while Hamlet himself feels he has to hide his emotions. Hamlet then goes into range and anger when he calls Claudius a “remorseless, treacherous, lecherous villain!” here Hamlet is showing how he feels about Claudius, however Hamlet chooses to prove Claudius as guilty and wait to take any action. Hamlet uses his antic disposition to tell people how he really feels, but sometimes can take it over the top. When he says “the sun breed maggots in a dead dog.” It not only links with talk of disease and also Gertrude calling the people of Denmark ‘dead dogs’, this link could show there is no hope for Denmark because the people of the state are ‘dead’ and therefore the state could been seen as ‘dead’.

Disorder in Act3 is shown through Ophelia’s deterioration, and that she is the innocent character shows a definite downward spiral and shows the main part of a tragedy. Also, to show the tragedy genre, the whole Act is based within the court, showing the unity of place. However, Hamlets disposition is also still a big part of act3. Shown in his soliloquy, where he begins with “to be or not to be, that is the question.” This links with the gross and rank imagery in his first soliloquy in act1 and also the suicidal language used, such as “’gainst self slaughter” this shows Hamlet knows suicide is wrong. In Act3 Hamlet gives reasons to commit suicide including “disprized love” and “insolence of office”. These and that Hamlet manages to talk himself round by the end of his soliloquy show his antic disposition at this point hasn’t completely taken over...
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