Hamlet Archetypes Essay

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An archetype is a character, situation, or action, which represents a template throughout all forms of literature. These archetype templates have been used countless times since the existence of literature. Take the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf for example. The main character, Beowulf, is a leader that everyone looks up to in times of distress. He is an example of the “hero” character archetype. The “hero” archetype can be found in almost every from of literature, especially in eastern culture. In western culture, one of the most distinguished archetypes is the serpent. The serpent is a very powerful archetype dating back to the Bible. The serpent archetype represents deception, evil, and temptation. These devil-like attributes represent Claudius,…show more content…
The plot begins when Denmark’s king, Hamlet Sr., is abruptly found dead. Hamlet, the king’s son, ventured home from school in Germany to attend his father’s funeral. Shortly after, Hamlet’s mother, Queen Gertrude, remarries to the dead king’s brother, Claudius. Hamlet is told by his father’s ghost that he was murdered by Claudius in order to take the throne. The rest of the play tells Hamlet’s plot to avenge his father. Throughout Hamlet, the serpent is the most prominent archetype displayed by Shakespeare. Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle, is the character representing the serpent. The most obvious connection between the serpent and Claudius is told by the ghost of Hamlet Sr., “Now Hamlet hear,/ ‘Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,/ A serpent stung me, So the whole ear of Denmark/ Is forged by a process of my death/ Rankly abused. But know, thou noble youth,/ The serpent that did sting thy father’s life/ Now wears his crown” (Shakespeare I.v.34-40). This imagery Shakespeare shows takes place in the Garden of Eden where the betrayal of humanity happened. But instead of the serpent betraying Eve, this scene shows how Claudius (the serpent) betrayed his own brother for the throne. This is an uncanny resemblance of the same serpent from the Garden of Eden. Later in the tragedy, Hamlet accidently kills the father of a character named Laertes’s. Laertes attempts to find out who committed this murder. Since Claudius wanted Hamlet dead, he saw this as a perfect opportunity. Claudius wanted Hamlet dead because he was a threat to Claudius’s position on the throne in many ways. King Claudius wanted to use Laertes as a pawn to kill Hamlet, so he did not have to. Claudius kept tempting Laertes to kill him, using his own guilt against him, “Laertes, was your father dear to you?/ Or are you like a painting of a sorrow,/ A face without a heart” (Shakespeare
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