Christian Concepts in Hamlet
Our faith plays a large role in the way we conduct our lives. This is also true in the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare. One may find this hard to believe, but through all aspects of revenge, murder, and deceit, Christian concepts are displayed, throughout the play. We see this through Ophelia’s death, the description of purgatory, and the suicidal thoughts that run through Hamlet’s mind. The ‘values’ that the characters have or, their beliefs in their faith are not shown clearly throughout the tragic play. When clearly analyzed, one can tell that Christian concepts are present in the play.
In Hamlet, an example where Christian concepts are portrayed is Ophelia’s death. This is seen when the grave diggers question her burial rights:
It must be “see offendendo;” it cannot be else. /For here lies the point: if I drown myself wittingly, / It argues an act: and an act hath three branches; it/ is, to act, to do, to perform; argal, she drown’d/ Herself wittingly. (V, i, 9-15)
Here, the grave diggers argue whether Ophelia truly drowned herself. They feel that she should not be given a Christian burial because, when one ends their own life, it goes against the Christian faith. Later, the gravediggers pity and question what is causing Christians to kill themselves. This is seen when one of the gravediggers say:
Why there thou say’st: and the more pity/that great folk should have countenance in this/world to drown or hang themselves, more than/their even Christian. (V, i, 27-30)
In this passage, not only does it show us how they pity those who commit suicide, but also provides dramatic irony. This is true because the audience knows of the events occurring in Denmark. For example, the death of Ophelia’s father, Polonius, and Hamlet’s rejection of Ophelia’s love. Through all contemplations of Ophelia’s ‘Christian rights,’ the king, with his power, requests for a Christian burial.
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