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Revenge Vs (Im)Morality In William Shakespeare's "The Tragedy Of Hamlet, Prince Of Denmark"

1896 words - 8 pages

Hamlet’s Denmark is described as being a prison, “[a] goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o’th’ worst” (Shakespeare 2.2.241-242) sets the setting, which illustrates that Denmark is a dystopia in which its people are enslaved. The world of Hamlet’s Denmark is a world that exudes injustice, revenge, deceit, slaughter, corruption, and most importantly, immorality. Modeled after Shakespeare’s very own England, Hamlet’s Denmark is a place filled with spies and espionage where the ambitious, immoral, corrupt and unjust rise to power and revel in glory. Hamlet, though argued to be a play centered and focused on the act of vengeance and avenging sons, is actually a play about morality and the consequences of poorly thought out and impulsive actions, in a corrupt and damaged society.
Act 1 Scene 5 of William Shakespeare’s, “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark,” reveals not only the cause of the former King’s death, the basis for the play, but also the issue of morality that will arise throughout its entirety. The Ghost of Hamlet’s father reveals the true cause of death:
’Tis given out that, sleeping in mine orchard,
A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of Denmark
Is by a forgèd process of my death
Rankly abused. But know, thou noble youth,
The serpent that did stink thy father’s life
Now wears his crown. (Shakespeare 1.5.34-40)
Hamlet is now aware that Claudius, brother of the former King of Denmark, poisoned Hamlet’s father in order to usurp him and claim the crown for himself. Hamlet’s father instructs Hamlet:
Let not the royal bed of Denmark be
A couch for luxury and damnèd incest.
But howsoever though pursuest this act,
Taint not thy mind. (Shakespeare 1.5.82-85)
By the Ghost asking Hamlet to, “[r]evenge his foul and most unnatural murder,” (Shakepeare 1.5.25) and save Denmark’s reputation, the Ghost also instructs Hamlet to keep his mind untainted and free from corruption. As the video LWashnigtonHayfield posted of Kronk in “The Emperor’s New Groove 2: Kronk’s New Groove,” like Kronk, Hamlet struggles both internally and externally with the choices and decisions he will soon have to make regarding the Ghosts plea of justice and vengeance. The Ghost is putting Hamlet in a morally confusing situation.
Moreover, after Hamlet learns the true cause of his father’s death, he spirals into a state of uncertainty and struggles with what his father’s ghost bade him to do. Hamlet is distraught over the death and murder of his father, and is also unable to fathom the idea that his mother married his uncle so quickly after her husband’s death, “[t]he funeral baked meats / [d]id coldly furnish forth the marriage tables” (Shakespeare 1.2.179-80). Hamlet is a moral and honest man trapped in the damaged, immoral, and deceitful Elsinore, Denmark. Hamlet wears his heart on his sleeve, and exhibits this by acting according to his feelings, while still in mourning after his fathers’ death, Claudius asks, “[h]ow...

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