The Social and Psychological Influences on Hamlet
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the influence of Hamlet’s psychological and social states display his dread of death but his need to avenge his father’s death. In turn, these influences illuminate the meaning of the play by revealing Hamlet’s innermost thoughts on life and death and the effect of religion. Despite the fact that Hamlet’s first instincts were reluctance and hesitation, he knows that he must avenge his father’s death. While Hamlet is conscious of avenging his father’s death, he is contemplating all the aspects of death itself.
Once Hamlet has learned of his father’s death, he is faced with a difficult question: should he succumb to the social influence of avenging his father’s death? The Ghost tells Hamlet to “revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” (1.5.31) upon which Hamlet swears to “remember” (1.5.118). Hamlet’s immediate response to this command of avenging his father’s death is reluctance. Hamlet displays his reluctance by deciding to test the validity of what the Ghost has told him by setting up a “play something like the murder of (his) father’s” (2.2.624) for Claudius. Hamlet will then “observe his looks” (2.2.625) and “if he do blench” (2.2.626) Hamlet will know that he must avenge his father’s death. In the course of Hamlet avenging his father’s death, he is very hesitant, “thinking too precisely on the event” (4.4.43). “Now might I do it…and he goes to heaven…No” (3.3.77-79) and Hamlet decides to kill Claudius while “he is drunk asleep, or in his rage, or in th’ incestuous pleasure of his bed” (3.3.94-95). As seen here, Hamlet’s contradicting thought that Claudius “goes to heaven” (3.3.79) influences him to change his plans for revenge. Hamlet eventually...
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