Hamlet: Barbed Words

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Felix Cole English 10 H Monica Espinasse Barbed Words Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet evokes a world where a nation can be seen as a diseased body and language can be used as a lethal weapon. Madness, defined in the dictionary as, “engaging in actions that are senseless or foolish”, is an issue that multiple characters deal with throughout the play. Many would say that Hamlet’s actions are very irrational, but everything he says and does eventually helps him achieve his desires. Despite how things seem Hamlet is an intelligent character who ultimately is in his right mind. The death of one’s father and a ghostly visitation thereafter are events that would challenge the sanity of anyone. The circumstances of King Hamlet’s death render it especially traumatic. The late King seemed to be an idol to his son; Hamlet looked up to him and aspired to have the same qualities. Hamlet doesn't like King Claudius and sees him as a swindling usurper who has stolen not only the dead King’s throne, but Hamlet’s as well(2.4). Hamlet shows Gertrude that she has lowered her standards by marrying Claudius, When he refers to old Hamlet as, “A combination and a form indeed / Where every god did seem to set his seal” (3.4.55-61). This quotation shows what Hamlet saw in his father and how bitterly disappointed he is in his mother’s choice of lord. Hamlet’s frustration is made bigger due to Claudius’ unsympathetic remarks. Earlier in the play, King Claudius comments on the irrationality of Hamlet’s grief by saying, “That thus hath put him/ So much from th’ understanding of himself, I cannot dream of.” (2.2.8-10) The intensity of Hamlet’s grief may encourage others besides Claudius to be prejudiced towards treating him as insane. In the wake of his father’s death, Hamlet takes actions that other characters perceive as insane. In Act two, Scene two, Polonius speaks to Hamlet in order to

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