The Tragedy Of Hamlet By William Shakespeare Essay

The Tragedy Of Hamlet By William Shakespeare Essay

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A Devil in Disguise
“We know what we are, but not what we may be,” a quote by Shakespeare. In the Shakespearean play The Tragedy of Hamlet, the protagonist Hamlet finds himself in the presence of what appears to be his father’s ghost. Is this ghost the devil in disguise trying to make Hamlet do his bidding, or did newly appointed king Claudius actually do devil 's work by killing Hamlet 's father? The word devil illuminates the true meaning of the play, which is men may believe they know who one is, however the devil can change who they will become. Such as Hamlet who set out to avenge his father’s murder became a murderer himself.
The word ‘devil’ comes from the Greek word ‘diabolos’ which is the spirit or power of evil. The devil is found in almost all religions and is thought to keep the gates of hell. In the 1500’s Catholicism was the most common religion in England, before the rule of Queen Elizabeth. The devil played a tremendous role among believers and is even thought to have had as much of a force on the people as God did. Catholics feared this being and believed their sins would send them straight to hell. Shakespeare uses this fear of the devil in Hamlet to illustrate the uncertainty of whether one could potentially be a devil. In act 2, Hamlet sees what he believes may be the ghost of his father, but the fear that this ghost may be a devil consumes his thoughts. In act 2 scene 2 Hamlet says aloud “The spirit that I have seen may be a devil; and the devil hath power to ' assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps out of my weakness and my melancholy, as he is very potent with such spirits abuses me to damn me” ( Shakespeare 2.2.610-615). Hamlet questions his father’s legitimacy which shows that he does not want to be c...


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...that by committing a sin one is doing the devil 's work. For example Claudius poisons his brother, Hamlet 's father. Claudius was trusted by his family, but the devil changes him, and by doing the a devil’s deed, committing murder Hamlet believes he becomes a devil. The word devil in this play can also shed light on poor decisions not made out of corruption, like murder, but out of innocence and poor judgement. In the case of Gertrude, she was not possessed by the devil like Claudius , but rather her judgement was hindered by him. Hamlet thought he knew his mother, however the devil changed her. When a character in Hamlet uses ‘devil’ in vain, such as Laertes in act five, scene one, it reveals how the devil can change men. Telling Hamlet the devil should take his soul demonstrates how Laertes is corrupt and sinful, and how it is he who has been tainted by the devil.

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