Theme of Mortality in Hamlet

Topics: Hamlet, Suicide, Death Pages: 4 (1616 words) Published: May 21, 2013
It is usual for Shakespeare’s plays for the main theme to be reflected throughout, in subsidiary incidents and subplots. C.S. Lewis claimed “the subject of Hamlet is death” which arguably cannot be disputed, with the entire plot being centered on Hamlet’s quest for revenge of his father’s murder. The “antic disposition” that leads to the bereavement of Hamlet is reflected in Ophelia’s mental downfall and suicide. The death of the Queen’s love for Old King Hamlet is reflected in the shift passing of love by the player Queen in “The Murder of Gonzago”. Numerous characters die on their quest for revenge and furthermore Hamlet is reliant on the embassy of death to characterise it as a Revenge Tragedy. England, at the time Hamlet was written, was a country of conflicting religious beliefs. Still, regardless of their religious persuasions, Elizabethans shared a common view of revenge; they believed not only does it touch on the question of justice, but it also deals with one of the burning subjects of that time, Death. The Revenger’s Tragedy also shares the same, if not more punishing theme of death throughout; again, countless characters die on the protagonist’s quest for revenge. The play, that is a comment on the corruption within the Jacobean court, is almost infatuated by the concepts of death and vengeance. In the opening scenes of Hamlet, the audience are presented with the apparition of the Ghost who tells Hamlet “I am thy father’s spirit”. Arguably – the importance of the Ghost is that it sets the note of the play – death. We become aware that the ghost is “doomed” to “walk in the night” until his “most foul and unnatural murder is revenged”. This could perhaps be perceived as the Ghost being trapped in purgatory, where he will continue to suffer until Hamlet has sought revenge against Claudius. Critics tend to argue with regards to Hamlet that ‘its themes were quintessentially those of the Renaissance and Reformation’ and the idea of Purgatory is certainly...
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