Hamlet, By William Shakespeare

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2. In Hamlet, Hamlet is forced to choose between his love for Ophelia and his responsibility of killing Claudius, the murderer of his father. In Act 2, scene 1 of the play, the reader sees Hamlet terrorize Ophelia with his insanity act: “O my lord, my lord, I have been so affrighted” (2.1.75). This is a way to fend off her so he could focus on only what matters to him at this point: revenge. When the Ghost reveals that Hamlet Sr. was murdered by Claudius, Hamlet vows to get revenge. Hamlet’s situation with his uncle and mother leaves no time for him to think about other matters, such as Ophelia. This conflict between passion and responsibility plays an important part in Ophelia’s detriment and eventual demise. Hamlet’s rejection of her love (“I loved you not” (3.1.117)), in addition to her father’s death, triggers her rather sudden descent into madness. When she sings her song in Act 4, she speaks of only Hamlet and Polonius, two characters that had important effects on her life (love and death). The reader does not know the full extent of this conflict between love and responsibility on Hamlet, but at the graveyard scene, Hamlet reveals his deepest affection for Ophelia, claiming that he “loved Ophelia,” and that “forty thousand brothers / Could not with all their quantity of love / Make up [his] sum” (5.1.247-49). This conflicts is a subplot of the play, and adds further drama and tragedy to the work. Appearance vs. Reality 2. Appearance vs. reality is an important theme in Hamlet. Many things in the play are not what they seem, starting with the very beginning of the story itself. To the people of Denmark, Hamlet Sr. died by getting stung by a serpent (appearance) while in reality he was murdered by Claudius: “‘Tis give... ... middle of paper ... ... thee to a nunnery, why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners?” (3.1.313-314)), she is a weak character because of her family structure (a brother and a father) and the men in her life. Hamlet and Polonius have such a significant power on her character and her life that her death is the very result of these two men. Shakespeare makes Ophelia an unfortunate character, whose demise comes from actually obeying her father’s wishes. Furthermore, while Hamlet is sexist towards his mother, Gertrude either intentionally or mistakenly saves her son’s life by drinking from the poisoned pearl cup. She goes against her husband’s warning, “Gertrude, do not drink / I will I beg you pardon me,” (5.2.287-88) and for the first time in the play, gains confidence to act according to her own will. In doing so, she loses her life, but saves the life of her son, although only momentarily.

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