Conflict in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

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An individual’s response to conditions of internal and external conflict is explored throughout literature. In his play, Hamlet, Shakespeare delves into the themes of appearance versus reality, lies versus deceit, rejection versus self doubt and tragedy, and in doing so attacks the frivolous state of humanity in contemporary society. In order to explore these themes, however, he uses several forms of conflict to project his opinions and expand his ideas relating to the themes of the play. Internal conflict, as well as external conflict are dominant features of his works, and in Hamlet are made evident through a succession of dire events which can attack and destroy someone. However perhaps the most captivating form of conflict Shakespeare uses to expand and explore the ideas presented within the text is the conflict between the self and the universe.

Old Hamlet is killed by his brother Claudius. Only two months after her husband’s death a vulnerable Gertrude marries her husband’s brother Claudius. Gertrude’s weakness opens the door for Claudius to take the throne as the king of Denmark. Hamlet is outraged by this, he loses respect for his mother as he feels that she has rejected him and has taken no time to mourn her own husband’s death. One night old Hamlets ghost appears to prince Hamlet and tells him how he was poisoned by his own brother. Up until this point the kingdom of Denmark believed that old Hamlet had died of natural causes. As it was custom, prince Hamlet sought to avenge his father’s death. This leads Hamlet, the main character into a state of internal conflict as he agonises over what action and when to take it as to avenge his father’s death. Shakespeare’s play presents the reader with various forms of conflict which plague his characters. He explores these conflicts through the use of soliloquies, recurring motifs, structure and mirror plotting.

Shakespeare uses external conflict in order to explore the theme of consequence, action and reaction in reaction in relation to consequence. Using the idea of external conflict, the playwright is able to demonstrate the aftermath of a difficult decision, leading to personal moral dilemma. This is made evident to the viewer when Hamlet kills Claudius. External conflict is used to explore Shakespeare’s view that man is a complex individual and that all actions have a consequence. The conseque...

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...proach; via another character.

Shakespeare uses conflict in Hamlet as a way of exploring ideas. He does this thorough the internal and external conflict that his characters face within the kingdom of Denmark. The conflict that follows is an outcome of lies and deceit which brings about tragedy. From this play we learn of the difficulty associated with taking a life as Hamlet agonises as to how and when he should kill Claudius and furthermore whether he should take his own life. Hamlet being a logical thinker undergoes major moral dilemma as he struggles to make accurate choices. From the internal conflict that the playwright expresses to us it is evident that it can kill someone, firstly mentally then physically. The idea of tragedy is explored in great detail through conflict where the playwright’s main message is brought across to the audience; Shakespeare stresses to his audience the point that conflict be it internal or external it can bring upon the downfall of great people and in turn have them suffer a tragic fate. It is Shakespeare’s aim to show us the complexity of man and that moral decisions are not easily made.

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