Use of Juxtaposition In Shakespeare's Hamlet

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Within Shakespeare's Hamlet, juxtaposition is used to achieve many purposes such as to enhance mood, re-establish themes and to illustrate characterization. The characters of Hamlet and Ophelia are an example of how Shakespeare uses juxtaposition to clearly illustrate traits of his characters. However, he not only juxtaposes the character against others but also to themselves in their speech. Moreover, in the gravedigger scene in Act 5, Shakespeare uses juxtaposition to enhance the theme and message of the scene. Additionally, the use of juxtaposition creates one of the most important themes of the play, contrast.

Shakespeare uses much juxtaposition to personify his characters. This helps to give the audience a greater understanding of the relationships of the characters both to themselves and to other characters in the play.

Ophelia and Hamlet are greatly juxtaposed against each other in Hamlet. Ophelia’s role in the play is the foil to both Hamlet and to her brother Laetres. In the play Ophelia is the catalyst, the means of Laertes and Hamlets actions and she acts like a mirror and enables the audience to view them though a more heroic perspective. Throughout the play, Ophelia sparks events and although she isn’t a well developed nor a main character her part in the play is crucial. As the catalyst she causes the battle at the end of the play, as she did “persuade revenge” on Hamlet by Laertes.

Hamlet’s feign of madness and talk about suicide, becomes Ophelia’s reality as she falls into depression and madness and when Hamlet kills her father, she eventually commits suicide. Ophelia’s psychological presence and breakdown is necessary to allow Hamlet to overthrow his current characterization. As to the audience, it is ...

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...e tension from Ophelia’s death and the ever-increasing tension and complexity of the plot. It is also an important milestone for Hamlet as he comes in terms with the fact that death is the ultimate equalizer and later in the scene Hamlet imagines how that even “Alexander the great‘s body would of turned into dust, which could have been used to make loam, and that loam could have been used to plug a beer-barrel. This readies Hamlet to die in the final scene, knowing the death is universal, equalizing and more importantly, that everyone dies.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is filled with juxtapositions. All of the characters have foils and are juxtaposed not only against other characters, but also to themselves through their soliloquies. The themes are also juxtaposed against each other to give greater meaning to them and to introduce another theme, the theme of contrast.
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