Hamlet Essay

1297 WordsJul 22, 20126 Pages
Shakespeare’s Hamlet is an exploration of how to live a moral life in a corrupt world. The meaning of the play is illustrated through three key conflicts. The first key conflict is between Hamlet and the court. This interaction is symbolic of Hamlet’s loss of faith in mankind, and his struggle to deal with the dishonesty and hypocrisy of men. The second is Hamlet’s conflict with his mother, an exploration of the corrupting power of temptation and sex. The third and most important conflict is between Hamlet and Claudius, his uncle and now stepfather. Here, Shakespeare explores Hamlet’s struggle between his desire to be moral and his desire to fulfil his duty to punish Claudius. Hamlet is conflicted as to how he can reconcile his desire for a perfect and just world with his growing realisation of its corruption. Hamlet’s conflict with the court, in particular Polonius, Osric and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, is a key theme of the play. This conflict, however, is the reflection of a number of Hamlet’s internal conflicts. Hamlet’s desire for an honest world is contrasted by his realisations of its hypocrisy. Shakespeare uses humour to satirise the courtiers and emphasise their hypocrisy: Osric: it is very hot Hamlet: No believe me, ‘tis very cold, the wind is northerly Osric: It is indifferent cold my lord, indeed. Shakespeare makes excellent use of imagery of the recorder when Hamlet externalises this conflict, castigating Guildenstern: You would play upon me, you would seem to know my stops… do you think I am easier to be played than a pipe? This metaphor uses a powerful stage prop to compare Guildenstern’s actions to attempting to play Hamlet like a recorder. Hamlet begins to lose faith in humanity in a world where people are so dishonest, inauthentic and hypocritical. He proclaims man’s great potential in the metaphor “What a piece of work is a man!”,

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