preview

Justification of Death in Hamlet

Justification of Death in Hamlet

Beginning with the Greeks, tragedy has been an essential form of entertainment. Although it has changed slightly over time due to different religious and social values, it is still written and performed to this day. Perhaps the most well known tragedy of all time is Shakespeare's Hamlet. Hamlet is perhaps the epitome of all tragedy. Not only does the tragic hero Hamlet meet his demise, but all the main characters in the play at some point due to some flaw in their character, or some fatal decision, also meet the same fate. It is because of their character flaw and/or their fatal decision at some time during the play that their death can be justified.

Polonius, the lord Chamberlain, a counsel to the king, is the first character to be killed. As the play opens up, Polonius is depicted as a rather good person, with noapparent flaws. However, as the play progresses, Polonius possess a flaw in his character, which becomes increasingly evident throughout the play; he is extremely nosy and scrutinizing. Many times during the play Polonius is either seen spying on other characters, or arranging for characters to be spied upon. The first such incident of this occurs when his son Laertes is going off to Paris. He instructs his servant Reynaldo to spy on his while in Paris. Polonius tells him:

'And in part him, but', you may say, 'not well,

but if't it be he I mean, he's very wild,

Addicted, so and so'. And there put on him

What forgeries you may please; marry none so rank

As may dishonor him. Take heed of that.

But, sir, such wanton, wild, and usual slips

As are companions noted and most known

To youth and liberty (II.I, 17-24).

...

... middle of paper ...

... Inc., 1973.

Mack, Maynard. "The World of Hamlet." Yale Review. vol. 41 (1952) p. 502-23. Rpt. in Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996.

Pitt, Angela. "Women in Shakespeare's Tragedies." Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from Shakespeare's Women. N.p.: n.p., 1981.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html

West, Rebecca. "A Court and World Infected by the Disease of Corruption." Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from The Court and the Castle. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1957.

Wilson, John Dover. What happens in Hamlet. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1959.
Get Access