Linguistic Analysis of Hamlet

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Shakespeare's Hamlet


Hamlet was written around the year 1600 in the final years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, who had been the monarch of England for more than forty years and was then in her late sixties. William Shakespeare began writing as a playwright during the 17th and 18th centuries and was considered a pioneer for what is now known as "Middle English," Some of his greatest works were his plays; one in general is the tragedy Hamlet. The play is home to many of Shakespeare's quotable quotes. In Act I, Scene II (129-158), the reader is introduced to Hamlet's first important soliloquy. Hamlet speaks these lines after enduring the unpleasant scene at the court of Claudius and Gertrude, then being asked by his mother and stepfather not to return to his studies at Wittenberg but to remain in Denmark, presumably against his wishes. Here, Hamlet thinks for the first time about suicide (desiring his flesh to "melt", and wishing that God had not made "self-slaughter" a sin), saying that the world is "weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable." In other words, suicide seems like a desirable alternative to life in a painful world, but Hamlet feels that the option of suicide is closed to him because it is forbidden by religion. Hamlet then goes on to describe the causes of his pain, specifically his intense disgust at his mother's marriage to Claudius. He describes the haste of their marriage, noting that the shoes his mother wore to his father's funeral were not worn out before her marriage to Claudius. He compares Claudius to his father (his father was "so excellent a king" while Claudius is a bestial "satyr"). As he runs through his description of their marriage, he touches upon the important motifs of misogyny, crying, "Frailty, thy name is woman"; incest, commenting that his mother moved "with such dexterity to incestuous sheets"; and the ominous omen the marriage represents for Denmark, that "it is not nor it cannot come to good." Each...
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