The Importance Of Fear In Hamlet

1080 words - 4 pages

The Importance of Fear in Hamlet

    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 goes on the consider suicide, it is apparent that the madness is no longer being feigned, but has started to have a real effect on him. Hamlet exhibits his insecurity toward death when he lingers on the phrase ' no traveler returns' from death. He is afraid of leaving his earthly life, showing his indecision towards what lies in the afterlife. This indecision carries over into his actions when trying to go through with Claudius' murder.  Hesitant to kill Claudius, Hamlets settles on making sure the ghost was correct in his accusation. By employing the players to dramatize the murder of King Hamlet Sr., Hamlet hides behind the façade of the play in order to accuse Claudius. By using the players as his medium for accusation, Hamlet again shows how timid he is to approach the subject of death and confront it face to face. It is seen by Claudius that Hamlet's 'madness' is a direct threat to his security, and Hamlet is shipped off to England. While traveling to his execution, Hamlet again slips out of deaths way before having to directly challenge it. Prior to Hamlet's 'kidnapping', he changes the letter to have it be his escorts execution. This is only appropriate, since Hamlet never is present to see their reaction to facing...

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