Hamlet Trial Response
The aspect of Shakespeare’s Hamlet that is most interesting to me is the playwright’s intimate depiction of Hamlet’s daily struggle againt the world. Through soliloquies and characterisation, we see that Hamlet’s world is a cold, political one, unreceptive to his grief, and this fundamental incompatibility is ultimately what creates and drives the play’s great drama behind his struggle, his murderous plot, uncertainty, and finally his thoughtful, accepting resolve at the end of the play. Early in the play we see this great incompatibility between Hamlet and his society emerging, as he, stricken with grief, is surrounded by cold political plotters. Shakespeare revels in his use of irony, as Claudius utters the oxymoron “lawful espials”, and Polonius, evangelising that “this above all else: to thine own self be true”, endeavours with “this bait of falsehood” to “by indirections find directions out” and thus “take this carp of truth”. Hamlet continues this tradition of fish-related metaphors in accusing Polonius of being a “fishmonger”, a claim which reflects his own struggle to comprehend how cold and contriving his society is. Hamlet even wonders how “a beast that wants discourse of reason would have mourned longer” than his mother, Gertrude, the “pernicious woman” whose “salt of most unrighteous tears” falls from merely “gallèd eyes”. That she could be “like Niobe” is a twisted classical allusion which adds to the sentiment of tension which Hamlet feels against his society, which, in the disillusioned wake of his grief, he has found is superficial and immoral, especially as “one may smile, and smile, and be a villain”, while “virtue itself of vice must beg” and “rank corruption…mining within…infects unseen”. Thus this great tension forms an integral part of the early part of the play and drives the drama which underlies Hamlet’s characterisation, and his struggle to find where he belongs in this morally void society. Hamlet’s soililoquy at...
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