Fear plays an important role in Shakespeare's tragic play, Hamlet. Within the play, the main character, Hamlet, attempts to overcome his fear and fulfill his father's revenge. Hamlet's apprehension toward death prevents him from carrying out the murder of Claudius. Although confrontation with death is avoided for as long as possible, Hamlet comes to recognize his weakness, and faces this anxiety.
Displaying an 'antic disposition', Hamlet first attempts to side step his trepidation by feigning madness. After meeting with his fathers proposed ghost, Hamlet attempts to distance himself from the thought or evidence of death. Hamlet notifies his friends, Marcellus and Horatio, of his plan to distract the kingdom from his real intentions. Although Hamlet proposes this as a way to fool those in Denmark, in the last lines of his meeting with Horatio and Marcellus, he curses that this revenge be placed upon him. This is the first indication of Hamlets reluctance to perform murder. Hamlet then returns to Claudius and Gertrude, at the castle, and acts out his madness for them and for the visitor, Polonius. Upon speaking to Polonius, Polonius picks up upon Hamlets 'madness', yet decides that this unnatural nature is because if Ophelia's behavior toward Hamlet. Indication of Hamlets fear is presented when Polonius asks leave of the prince. Hamlet then states that Polonius can take anything from him, anything but his life. Hamlet repeats thrice this idea of taking anything 'except [his] life.' Not only does this indicate how compulsive Hamlets fake insanity is becoming, but how afraid he is of dying. During the 'To be or not to be' soliloquy, Hamlet contemplates his view of death. As he go...
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...nd bear the 'burden' of his fathers retribution.
Sources Cited and Consulted:
Bloom, Harold. "Introduction." Modern Critical Interpretations: Hamlet. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York City: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. 1-10.
Danson, Lawrence. "Tragic Alphabet." Modern Critical Interpretations: Hamlet. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York City: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. 65-86
Findlay, Alison. "Hamlet: A Document in Madness." New Essays on Hamlet. Ed. Mark Thornton Burnett and John Manning. New York: AMS Press, 1994. 189-205.
Goldman, Michael. "Hamlet and Our Problems." Critical Essays on Shakespeare's Hamlet. Ed. David Scott Kaston. New York City: Prentice Hall International. 1995. 43-55
Rose, Mark. "Reforming the Role." Modern Critical Interpretations: Hamlet. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York City: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. 117-128
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