Hamlet: The Master Metaphor

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The Master Metaphor

From his beautifully enchanting sonnets and love poems, to his action and drama filled plays, it is evident that William Shakespeare has an innate ability to capture his audiences in the most thrilling and unique ways. Many of Shakespeare’s works display common themes and motifs. One theme that is constantly displayed in Shakespeare’s compositions is the use of poison. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, poison is the master metaphor. Poison is the major theme in the play, both literally and figuratively. A story of love, vengeance, and betrayal, Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s greatest works. The play is partly constructed around the literal use of poisons. In Act 1, Scene 5, Hamlets’ Father says, "Upon my secure hour thy uncle
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Power, in the wrong hands, can be very poisonous. Claudius’ avarice for power was a poison to every character in the play. His desire for his brothers thrown caused him to murder his own brother, and destroy an entire royal family: “I am still possess 'd of those effects for which I did the murder. My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.” Claudius admits that he committed this nefarious act because of his lust for the crown. Power also had a poisonous effect on Ophelia. Ophelia’s father, Polonius, used his power and influence over her to corrupt and distort her thinking. He even used his power to forbid her from seeing Hamlet. When Polonius was killed, Ophelia goes insane and commits suicide. She could not handle life without his constant and powerful influence over her. In both instances, poison is the master metaphor that Shakespeare uses to shape the…show more content…
The ghost says, “Murder most foul, as in the best it is. But this most foul, strange and unnatural” and “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.” These weighty words inspired rage and vengeance into Hamlets heart. After the Ghost uttered these words, Hamlet was ready to violently kill whoever was responsible for this unspeakable act against his father. In the end, his Hamlets quest for vengeance led to the deaths of almost every character in the play.
Without a doubt, Shakespeare uses poison as the master metaphor in Hamlet. Used both literally and figuratively, poison is a recurring symbol that emphasizes the major themes and motifs in the play. In the literal sense, poison was used throughout the play by numerous characters to fulfill their biddings. In the figurative sense, the abuse of power and the wrong use of words and language both acted as metaphorical poisons in the play. The abuse of power and the misuse of words ended up being just as deadly as the poison
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