In life people carry a certain amount of respect and admiration for their fathers. Those that have had parents’ divorce and remarry, often dislike the stepparent. We have seen examples of the wicked stepparent through time from fairy tales, Cinderella and Snow White, to Chinese literature, to modern day soap operas on television. It is a natural characteristic to dislike the one who has taken the place of a biological parent. Shakespeare not only uses this natural feeling in Hamlet, but enhances the feeling of respect for one and hatred and vengeance for the other. The text gives us proof that Hamlet carries a great admiration for King Hamlet, and despises with a vengeance, to his new stepfather, King Claudius.
In act 1. sc. 1 we learn that King Hamlet is dead and may have returned as a ghost. His death lays a foundation for the feelings Hamlet has towards his father and Claudius. In scene 2 the new King Claudius states to Hamlet “my cousin Hamlet and my son” referring to the marriage of his mother to Claudius and how he is now Claudius’s stepson. (I ii 66) We see as Hamlet responds with some bitterness in his words as he states “little more than kin and less than kind” and “I am too much in the sun”. (I ii 67, 69) The reference to this first statement is because Claudius is not only his uncle, but also is his father now, and that relationship is not right. With the second statement there is a hint of his respect and grief for his late father, and that Hamlet is like him.
This admiration and respect is also shown by Hamlets’ grief as he states that he wears “the suit of woe”. (I ii 89) In the beginning exchanges between Claudius and Hamlet we learn that the way Claudius speaks to Hamlet adds more to more dislike of his stepfather. The king speaks of Hamlets sorrow as an “unmanly grief. It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,” completely disregarding Hamlets’ feelings while calling them wrong. (I ii 98- 99)
The first soliloquy by Hamlet gives us great insight to how he feels towards both of his fathers and even some reference to how they differ. The comparison of a “hyperion to a satyr” represents the honor he carried for his late father and the disgust for Claudius. (I ii 144) Hamlet also states “tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed./ Things rank and gross in nature possess it merely” refers to how dark Denmark will be if Claudius continues to reign. (I ii 139-140) Hamlet believes this marriage between Claudius and his mother is morally wrong as he mentions “incestuous sheets”. (I ii 162)
In Hamlets first conversation with the ghost of his late father, the main reason for Hamlets hatred of Claudius is revealed. King Hamlet states “The serpent that did sting thy father’s life / Now wears his crown”, by which he is telling Hamlet that King Hamlets life was taken by his own brother King Claudius. (I iiiii 46, 47) Hamlets’ answer “O, my prophetic soul!”, is confirmation that that he suspected Claudius from the beginning. (I iiiii 48)...