In William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, cultural identity is explored through Hamlet’s isolation which is created by the conflict between his duty to his father, and his duties to the throne and society. Hamlet is isolated from his society due to his turbulent emotions, which result from his indecision on how to respond to his father’s murder. Hamlet’s duty as a son is to avenge the death of his father and he would be supported by society if the murderer was believed to be guilty. Hamlet’s duty as a citizen and a Prince is to protect the King and to ensure the stability of the throne. In order for Hamlet to revenge his father he would have to kill the King, which creates a conflict between his two main responsibilities. Because of this, Hamlet has a hard time in deciding how to move forward and which responsibility to focus on. However, Hamlet decides to gather evidence as proof of Claudius’ guilt so that his revenge is justified to society and to himself.
Hamlet’s duty as a son, in his social situation and circumstances, is one which encourages him to seek revenge for his murdered father. For Hamlet to be perceived as a noble and faithful son, he would have to kill his father’s murderer. In Hamlet’s first soliloquy after being told by his father’s ghost to seek revenge, Hamlet quickly acknowledges his duty as a son.
I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records, / All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past /
That youth and observation copied there, / And thy commandment all alone shall live /
Within the book and volume of my brain, / Unmixed with baser matter. (I.v.99-104)
Hamlet seems to decide with strong determination that he will “wipe away” all of his memories of “youth”, and all “past pressures” so that the ghost’s “commandment” to avenge his death would be his only focus, without the distraction of...
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