Throughout Shakespeare’s greatest works there is the ever present use of guilt and madness to add depth to characters, further drama and plot and sometimes to even lengthen the work itself. From Hamlet’s constant struggle to murder his incestuous uncle to Macbeth’s sudden ability to see ghostly blood-covered daggers, it is clear to see that Shakespeare has a method to his madness. Shakespeare uses guilt as a sort of net for the humanity of his characters. Throughout Macbeth and Hamlet shakes’ characters do some deplorable things and the easiest way to help the audience stay in favor of a major character is to have them feel bad about said acts. This converts into the “madness” that is ever-present alongside its buddy guilt. Shakespeare doesn’t just want the character to feel bad; He wants the audience to know it too. This is what creates the intricate visions, delusionary speaking, and general lunacy shown by many characters within his works. We will begin the analysis on the presence of guilt and madness with Hamlet.
What better character to start an analysis on hamlet with than the man (or teen) himself. Hamlet is the son of a once beloved and currently deceased, king. After his death, King Hamlet’s wife does what most women would do in that situation, marry his brother. This does not sit quite right with Hamlet as shown by his constant moping and inability to forgive his mother. All the while the supposed ghost of King Hamlet is wandering the Danish castle grounds looking for someone to tell Hamlet he is there. So with a nice dose of depression and a weakened mind Hamlet is brought face-to-face with his dead father’s ghost. Part of what makes Hamlet’s “madness” so intriguing is the fact that we don’t really know if he is trul...
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...ash representation of a very real feeling humans know: Guilt. He takes these characters who think they have it all figured out and allows them to mess up. When they are at their weakest, they fight and at their strongest they sin. Shakespeare is trying to send a message to his audience with these tales of woe. He wants people to always remember to take control of their emotions and never let their emotions take control of them.
Crawford, Alexander W. Hamlet, an ideal prince, and other essays in Shakespearean interpretation: Hamlet; Merchant of Venice; Othello; King Lear. Boston R.G. Badger, 1916. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2009. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/hamlet/antichamlet.html >.
Foakes, R.A.. “The Play’s Courtly Setting.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. of “Hamlet and the Court of Elsinore.” Shakespeare Survey: An Annual Survey of Shakespearean Study and Production. No. 9. Ed. Allardyce Nicoll. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 1956.
Macbeth is William Shakespeare's darkest and arguably his most tragic play. It begins with a brave, honest man named Macbeth, who was married to a wicked, malicious woman. As the play progresses the swap of these characters' personalities quickly unfolds. Because Macbeth's ambition had been spurred on by his wife and Lady Macbeth had no outlet for her grief and sorrow the reversal of roles begin. By the end of the play they fully trade roles, Lady Macbeth fully descends into madness riddled with guilt and Macbeth turns into a tyrant devoid of virtue. As the events of the play unfold, they assume each others role and make choices that consequently lead them down a path riddled with chaos and insanity that they cannot escape.
Crawford, Alexander W. Hamlet, an ideal prince, and other essays in Shakesperean interpretation: Hamlet; Merchant of Venice; Othello; King Lear. Boston R.G. Badger, 1916. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2009. (April 30 2014) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/othello/othelloessay2.html >.
Mack, Maynard. “The World of Hamlet.” Yale Review. vol. 41 (1952) p. 502-23. Rpt. in Shakespeare: Modern Essays in Criticism. Rev. ed. Ed. Leonard F. Dean. New York: Oxford University P., 1967.
Everyone deals with guilt at least one time throughout their life, and several authors use guilt to help build up suspense in their story. Guilt in Macbeth not only affects his mental state of mind, but it also destroys him physically, along with a few other characters such as Lady Macbeth. The characters are affected by guilt so much, that it actually leads to their death essentially, just because they were not able to handle the consequences for the events that occurred. Despite being destroyed by guilt, they were still forced to carry on with their lives and they did have to try to hide it, even though Macbeth was not doing so well with that. His hallucinations were giving him up and eventually everyone knew the he had murdered Duncan so he could become the next king.
In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the theme of guilt and conscience is one of many explored throughout the play. Macbeth, is a well respected Scottish noble who in the beginning of the play is a man everyone looks up to; however as the play progresses he makes a number of bad decisions. Eventually, as a result of his actions he suffers guilt and this plays heavily upon his character until his personality is completely destroyed. Shakespeare uses a range of techniques in order to develop this theme such as, characters, imagery.
Hamlet, a young prince preparing to become King of Denmark, cannot understand or cope with the catastrophes in his life. After his father dies, Hamlet is filled with confusion. However, when his father's ghost appears, the ghost explains that his brother, Hamlet's Uncle Claudius, murdered him. In awe of the supposed truth, Hamlet decides he must seek revenge and kill his uncle. This becomes his goal and sole purpose in life. However, it is more awkward for Hamlet because his uncle has now become his stepfather. He is in shock by his mother's hurried remarriage and is very confused and hurt by these circumstances. Along with these familial dysfunctions, Hamlet's love life is diminishing. It is an "emotional overload" for Hamlet (Fallon 40). The encounter with the ghost also understandably causes Hamlet great distress. From then on, his behavior is extremely out of context (Fallon 39). In Hamlet's first scene of the play, he does not like his mother's remarriage and even mentions his loss of interest in l...
Hamlet is the son of Queen Gertrude, this type of parent and child conflicts are somewhat common in some of Shakespeare’s plays. The events surrounding these characters must be taken into account as we watch the attitudes and personalities of Gertrude and Hamlet change as the play progresses. They have their own unique places in the story but do not always mesh well together when thrown into a conflict. Throughout the play hamlet struggles to keep his sanity. This is especially apparent after his father’s ghost visits him. The ghost tells him that his father was murdered by his uncle Claudius, who is the curre...
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. The Norton Anthology of World Literature. 2nd ed. Vol. C. Ed. Sarah Lawall. New York: Norton, 2005. Print.
Shakespeare, William, Marilyn Eisenstat, and Ken Roy. Hamlet. 2nd ed. Toronto: Harcourt Canada, 2003. Print.
Considered to be one of the most famous playwrights written in the history of English literature, Hamlet is no doubt a complex play and far from being easy to decipher. The protagonist finds himself entangled within a slew of different predicaments ranging from love, incest, death, murder, and even touches upon the spiritual world when his father’s apparition presents himself with the task of avenging his death. How he goes about handling all of these difficulties has been a debate for decades and continues to baffle even the greatest minds today. However, in order for Hamlet to uncover the truth and fulfill the task he is given, he must put on an act of madness in which the other characters mistake him to have truly lost his mind. While he
The character of Hamlet is considered an icon of English literature. Even more so is the question of his madness; is it real or is it feigned? “Madness by definition precludes the realization of a stable, coherent subjectivity in opposition to the disorder from without” (Coddon 59). The question of Hamlet’s madness has been a debate over the last few centuries. It is clear to see that in the beginning of the play, he was already experiencing grief with the loss of his father. What made the death of his father even harder to bear was the fact that his uncle was responsible for the murder. Then for his mother to marry the man that killed his father made it even worse. An event that traumatizing could cause someone to become insane, because they cannot learn to cope with a devastating situation as such. Hamlet is constantly being betrayed by the people that he trusts the most. Although there are many instances throughout the play that could cause Hamlet to become insane, evidence proves that his
Hamlet is one of the most often-performed and studied plays in the English language. The story might have been merely a melodramatic play about murder and revenge, butWilliam Shakespeare imbued his drama with a sensitivity and reflectivity that still fascinates audiences four hundred years after it was first performed. Hamlet is no ordinary young man, raging at the death of his father and the hasty marriage of his mother and his uncle. Hamlet is cursed with an introspective nature; he cannot decide whether to turn his anger outward or in on himself. The audience sees a young man who would be happiest back at his university, contemplating remote philosophical matters of life and death. Instead, Hamlet is forced to engage death on a visceral level, as an unwelcome and unfathomable figure in his life. He cannot ignore thoughts of death, nor can he grieve and get on with his life, as most people do. He is a melancholy man, and he can see only darkness in his future—if, indeed, he is to have a future at all. Throughout the play, and particularly in his two most famous soliloquies, Hamlet struggles with the competing compulsions to avenge his father’s death or to embrace his own. Hamlet is a man caught in a moral dilemma, and his inability to reach a resolution condemns himself and nearly everyone close to him.