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Christian Morals versus Barbaric Customs in Hamlet

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Christian Morals versus Barbaric Customs in Hamlet

Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, is a tragic play set in Denmark during the early seventeenth century. It was written at the same time the Bible was being translated by King James. Like the Bible, Hamlet is full of problems that all humans experience. These problems are best seen through the internal struggle of Prince Hamlet. The source of Hamlet's internal struggle, which is the direct contrast of his Christian education versus Denmark's barbaric customs, is developed throughout the play through the use of imagery, characterization, and theme.

Imagery is used to show how Hamlet's Christian morals differ from Denmark's customs.

Ay, marry, is't; But to my mind,-though I am native here, And to the manner born,-it is a custom More honour'd in the breach than the observance. This heavy-headed revel east and west Makes us traduc'd and tax'd of other nations: They clepe us drunkards, and with swinish phrase Soil our addition; and, indeed, it takes From our achievements, though perform'd at height, The pith and marrow of our attribute. (I,iv,13-22)

Hamlet is referring to Denmark's custom of drinking alcohol just to get drunk. Claudius is whimsically toasting to Denmark while Hamlet tells Horatio that Denmark is known as a country of drunkards. For this reason Hamlet is not proud of his origins. "'Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard, A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark Is by a forged process of my death Rankly abused: but know, thou noble youth, The serpent that did sting thy father's life Now wears his crown." (I,v,35) King Hamlet is telling his son that his murderer is wearing the King's crown. Shakespear...

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