Hamlet Uncertainty Essay

Paper , Order, or Assignment Requirements

This is a grade 12 critical analytical essay response to text about the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare. The topic is: Discuss the ideas developed by the text (Hamlet, by William Shakespeare) about the human need to reconcile the uncertainty of the past with the new or present situation.

In this topic, the most important concept is to identify what is the idea of reconciliation and uncertainty The essay structure is based on the 5 body paragraphs.

The first one is an introduction with a general explanation in the beginning to introduce the topic, thesis (the most important part) that clarifies the essay topic with argument, and transition sentence at the end of the paragraph.

The second, third, and forth paragraphs are all explaining and provide evidence that will support my thesis about the topic. I want to focus on one character of the play, and that is Hamlet throughout the whole essay. That is to explore the development and progression of the character in the relation to the topic question. It will have to provide the literature specifics and the content of the subject of the essay. Therefore, each of the three body paragraphs will start with a general sentence, follow by explaining the argument that relate to the topic, and integrate some quotations in the sentences to provide evidence, and with a transition at last that will flow from one paragraph to the next.

The last paragraph will conclude and re-state the topic and my thesis statement. It should also include an expansion on the topic that will go beyond the idea and leave a ending hook.

This essay has to reflect on the following marking category:

1.) Thoughts and understanding (how effectively and student’s ideas relate to the assignment) (the quality of the literary interpretations to show understanding of the text relative to the topic)

2.) Support Evidence (the selection and quality of evidence) (how well the supporting evidence is employed, developed, and synthesized to support the student’s ideas)

3.) Form and structure (the manner in which the student focuses, arranges, and shapes the discussion in response to the assignment.) ( How well a unifying effect or a controlling idea is developed and maintained)

4.) Matter of choice (diction) (choices of syntactic structures – parallelism, balance, inversion) (the extent to which stylistic choices contribute to the creation of voice)

5.) Matter of correctness (sentence construction – completeness, consistency, subordination, coordination, predication) (usage – accurate use of words according to convention and meaning) (grammar) (mechanics – punctuation, spelling, capitalization)

Hamlet Essay

Get Your
Essay Written

Starting at Just $13.90 a page

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a play primarily about the protagonist’s struggle to discover absolute certainty within a world plunged into instability. While Hamlet is reflective of the ideologies and contextual values which were of integral importance within the Elizabethan period, his dramatic exploration of this struggle continues to resonate with contemporary audiences.

Through the use of dramatic techniques, Shakespeare explores the moral ambiguity and uncertainty existing within the kingdom as a consequence of the disruption to the Elizabethan Chain of Being, utilising Hamlet’s contemplative character as a medium to illuminate the tension between Christian doctrine and the philosophy of Humanism that began to emerge during the Renaissance. Ultimately, it is Hamlet’s contemplative nature and the prevailing conflict between Pagan superstition and Renaissance scepticism that delays his revenge, creating a dramatic suspense that has continued to enthral audiences for centuries.

Despite its Elizabethan origins, the play explores various existential concerns, evident through Hamlet’s intricate introspections on the complexities of life and death, reflecting timeless and enduring concerns equally relevant to the contemporary audience. Although considered a revenge tragedy, it is the protagonist’s failure to achieve revenge and restore order that binds the play in a unity of ambiguity and moral uncertainty.

To begin, the uncertainty and moral ambiguity that envelops Elsinore as a consequence of the disruption to the great Chain of Being and the murder of King Hamlet is foreshadowed within the opening scene. Shakespeare’s use of truncated sentences in the dark and somewhat frightening opening scene when Bernardo asks “who’s there? ” highlights the sense of moral ambiguity that has begun to infect the kingdom under Claudius’ illegitimate rule.

This scene would resonate amongst an Elizabethan audience as it reflected the prevailing shifts of power as the current Queen’s reign was approaching its end. This instability is made evident in the Kenneth Branagh production where the scene in which Hamlet confronts the ghost displays the ground splitting open. Moreover, Hamlet’s response to the marriage of his “uncle-father and aunt-mother” heightens this sense of moral ambiguity, emphasising the subversion of the Elizabethan social order.

Here, Shakespeare’s use of the motif of incest would position the Elizabethan to recognise the chaos and instability manifested within the kingdom as the incestuous relationship between Claudius and Gertrude illuminates the corruption present within the royal family. Furthermore, it is amidst this chaos and uncertainty that Hamlet is confronted with the task of restoring order and avenging his father’s ‘most unnatural murder’ foreshadowing the ambiguity pervaded throughout the play.

While Hamlet’s challenge in restoring order is uniquely Elizabethan, the political and moral instability he is subject to is equally relevant to a contemporary audience beset with continual shifts in political power. The moral ambiguity pervaded throughout the play is sustained even as it translates from an Elizabethan to a contemporary audience. Furthermore, the characterisation of Hamlet and his feigned madness heightens the ambiguity present within the play and the Elizabethan era.

Hamlet puts on an ‘antic disposition’ in order to ascertain the truth about Claudius and allows himself the freedom to explore deeper questions about the nature of humanity. This is evident within his soliloquy in Act 2 scene 2 where he critiques his inability to take significant action. Hamlet’s contention that he is “Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause, And can say nothing” emphasises his ability to critically think, reflecting the moral and intellectual speculations that were beginning to gain traction in the Enlightenment of the Renaissance.

However, such moral speculations, while embodying the concerns of the time, are ultimately insufficient in assisting Hamlet to take decisive action against Claudius. In the absence of this certainty, Hamlet becomes obsessed with the physicality of death describing “how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar” and how “the noble dust of Alexander” may be traced, “till a find it stopping a bunghole…”. As he explores the mysteries of spiritual death and the reality of physical death, the audience is positioned to recognise Hamlet’s growing abhorrence for the ideas of the Elizabethan social order he is expected to restore. These notions exemplify Hamlet’s internal shift away from the Christian values that were of vital importance in his context reflecting the philosophy of existentialism – familiar to the contemporary audience – demonstrated through nihilistic questioning of the point of life if leaders as great as “Alexander died…buried…returneth to dust”.

However, Hamlet’s subsequent assertion that there is a “divinity that shapes our end” highlights his belief in Christian contradicting his rational speculations, and conveying his struggle to reconcile both his Humanistic related beliefs and Christian doctrine. This struggle, while uniquely Elizabethan, reflects the timeless challenge of ascertaining certainty and taking action in a world fraught with ambiguity. Additionally, Hamlet’s inability to correctly marry his thoughts with his actions serves to convey the enduring complexity of taking decisive action.

While Hamlet’s inability to act is often perceived as his tragic flaw, it is crucial to understand that Hamlet is in fact extremely active as he puts ‘on an antic disposition’ and prepares a play to ‘catch the conscience of the king’. However, the idea of a tragic flaw is evident when his actions are depicted as impulsive and lacking in apprehension, demonstrated as he strikes out on Polonius thoughtlessly who was hidden behind the curtains.

Furthermore, Shakespeare’s use of contrast between Hamlet and Fortinbras emphasises Hamlet’s period of doubt and his recognition of his proactive nature rather than reactive, as he does “not know why yet I live to say this thing’s to do, sith I have cause, and will and strength… to do’t”. This period of doubt emphasises to an Elizabethan audience, Hamlet’s inability to mend his thoughts with his actions correctly as opposed to the ambitious Fortinbras who sends an entire army to “gain a little patch of ground/That hath no profit in it but the name”.

Moreover, Hamlet’s contemplative nature and his inability to merge his thoughts with his actions is further demonstrated when he has the opportunity to slay Claudius whilst praying but refrains from doing so as he scrutinises on the fact that “this same villain send to heaven” highlighting to an Elizabethan audience his struggle to reconcile both his Christian beliefs and his personal honour in contrast to Laertes who filially feels obliged to cut Hamlet’s “throat i’th church”.

This tension between carefully apprehending and thinking and swift and reckless actions sustains an enduring appeal as even in contemporary society rational thinking before acting is preferred. Hamlet’s inability to correctly mend his thoughts with his actions serves to reflect the complexity of taking action and ultimately contributes to the unity of the play and its ability to allow its notions to remain memorable as it transcends time and place.

Furthermore, the delay of Hamlet’s revenge for his father reflects the confliction, ambiguity and uncertainty present within his internal psyche, as a consequence of the disruption to the Chain of Being. After the murderer of his father is revealed, Hamlet acts slowly and precisely whilst attempting to ascertain the truth behind Claudius and his father’s “most unnatural murder”.

In act 3 scene 3 Hamlet refrains from killing Claudius because the king is praying, and “so a goes to heaven” highlighting Hamlet’s conflicted internal psyche regarding his beliefs in Christian conduct or divine judgment and personal responsibility, reflecting the prevailing Elizabethan tension between the philosophy of Humanism and the Christian beliefs in divine providence. Indeed Al Bradley’s contention that “The protagonist’s downfall can be reduced to a single flaw” fails to take account of the conflicting contextual factors with which Hamlet is faced.

More compelling is Al Swin Barne’s assertion that “single inner most Hamlet’s is not… hesitation but rather the strong conflux of contending forces. ” Whilst an Elizabethan audience would agree with Hamlet’s plan to avenge his father, as revenge was considered a positive act of retribution, a contemporary audience empathises with Hamlet’s struggle to reconcile his conflicting beliefs and therefore understands his hesitation to murder Claudius.

Additionally, in Hamlet’s soliloquy in act 4 scene 4 he reveals his focus on contemplation rather than action as he states “Oh from this time forth, /My thoughts be bloody or nothing worth” highlighting his fixation on his contemplative and conflicted thoughts rather than significant action, acting as a cause of his delay.

Furthermore, through Hamlet’s contention that “the king is a thing…/Of nothing” the ideas of the Elizabethan Chain of Being and divine providence is subverted and essentially reflects Existential concerns in which an individual’s maintains the personal responsibility to dictate their choices without relying on the help of laws, ethnic rules or tradition. Through Hamlet’s conflicted and contemplative inner psyche, the moral ambiguity and uncertainty of the play remains endured as it is translates from an Elizabethan to a contemporary audience.

In conclusion, through the use of several dramatic language devices, Shakespeare explores the moral ambiguity and uncertainty existing within the kingdom as a consequence of the disruption to the Elizabethan Chain of Being, and also utilises Hamlet’s contemplative character as a medium to illuminate the tension between Christian doctrine and humanism present throughout the play and allows it to reflect similarly amongst both Elizabethan and contemporary audiences.

Do you like
this material?Get help to write a similar one

Additionally, although the play is predominantly considered a revenge tragedy, Shakespeare has merged in conventions of an Aristotelian tragedy and allowed for a more ambiguous response in regards to Hamlet’s interpersonal relationships, intentions and inner psyche. It is the play’s ambiguity– and the coherent use of language and form unifying the text – that emphasises the significance of the beliefs and ideas exhibited throughout the play to both Elizabethan, contemporary and existential interpretations.

Author: Brandon Johnson

in Hamlet

Hamlet Essay

We have so large base of authors that we can prepare a unique summary of any book. Don't believe? Check it!

How fast would you like to get it?

0 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *