Shakespeare's Life Lessons in Hamlet

Topics: Plays

Shakespeare’s tragedy , Hamlet is written during the Elizabethan period . The tragedy , Hamlet was written at a time of intellectual and political controversy . Hamlet’s popularity is global and it is one of Shakespeare’s frequently performed plays. Hamlet’s popularity is due to its artistic exuberance, rich and varied incidents, characters and language. Shakespeare has deep insight into human nature and can intrigue and excite the reader or the audience . Shakespeare’s plays are written specially to be acted on the stage .

Performances took place in the open air and spectators were seated all around the stage. Shakespeare richly depicts his interest in his own profession . Obvious examples include the players and the play-within-a-play to reveal Claudius’s guilt resonates with the language and the imagery of the theatre . Shakespeare’s Tragedy – Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is based on a 12th century tale by Saxo Grammaticus, which Shakespeare most certainly never saw, and is part of a spate of revenge dramas which were extremely popular around the turn of the seventeenth century.

Hamlet was written in the 17th Century .

In Elizabethan times revenge was taught to be noble and man made . According to the Elizabethans there could only be order only if man could control his passions . During the Elizabethan times elevated passages reflected philosophical thoughts . These thoughts were often spoken in verse . Rhyme was also used to convey the anxiety and passion . There was no real scenery and so setting was created through magic words . In Elizabethan times tragedy only occurred when the person was initially good and there is some tragic flaw in him which leads to his downfall .

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Shakespeare has cleverly used soliloquies in his plays to express the characters feelings in that situation. Using soliloquy was a literary tradition used in the olden plays to make all the readers be engrossed in the play and so that they can get in to the most possible depth and understand the hidden meaning . A kind of inner debate is portrayed through the use of soliloquies. The reader is able to gain direct experience of Hamlet’s inner world. ” to be or not to be” The complexity of his thoughts and ambiguity of his actions appear “life like” .

His intellectual energy and alertness made the action more comprehensible. Shakespeare’s language complexes the reader but it has deep meaning in them . He uses similes and metaphors that are the lifeblood in all his plays . In Hamlet imagery has been used, descriptive style has been used through out the play . The language used by Shakespeare is full of variety , sometimes enigmatic . Shakespeare’ genius and mastery of language helped the reader to appreciate Hamlet’s inner turmoil and to share his trauma . This play is a family drama and since we are all family members, it sustains our interest .

The focus is on family relationships like brother , sister ,father and son, daughter and mother, etc . We also understand the importance of friendship , In this play in the 1ST Act the reader is informed that the King of Denmark was murdered by His own brother Claudius . Claudius wanted to rule Denmark and so fulfilled his greed by murdering his own brother . Shakespeare also includes super natural element – his father’s ghost . His father’s ghost commands him to take his revenge. So this play depicts the son’s turmoil and how he delays to take his actions.

To obey our parents is the primary duty of each and every child . A child is been taught till today in school that he should always respect his elders and obey them as they will be successful in their lives if they are obedient and can also pass this on to the next generation . Shakespeare conveys the lesson of being obedient through many ways . One of the ways is when Leartes warns Ophelia about Hamlet . “A violet in the youth of primary nature , Forward not permanent , sweet, not lasting. ” The inward service of the mind and soul Grows wide withal ” .

In this case colours have been created here through the words “violet” . Images of the spring season have been created . Shakespeare uses this phrase as it was proverbial as well as associated with love . This is one of the ways Shakespeare involved the reader in the play . Adjectives have also been used in this line ” sweet” . All this is done to create an image in the readers eyes . These lines emphasizes that Hamlet’s love was short lived and not lasting because as Hamlet grew up he became wiser . The words “youth of primary nature” emphasizes that love is youthful and not long-lasting.

Leartes also cautions Ophelia “His greatness weighed , his will is not his own” For he himself is subject to his birth” For on his choice depends The safety and the wealth of this whole state. ” Leartes makes Ophelia aware that as he is the king he has to please everyone . Hamlet can’t choose to marry because he is the prince and he has to marry in the interest of the state. Leartes is a typical protective brother as he warns her of Hamlet. We learn from this the relationship of the brother and sister . He also says Fear it Ophelia , fear it my dear sister.

And keep you in the rear of your affection Out of the shot and danger of desire” This line tells the reader that Leartes warns her that Hamlet might take advantage of her innocence . Shakespeare cleverly uses images of treasure , war , masks and disease as sexual metaphors when Leartes warns his sister against losing her virginity to Hamlet “or lose your heart or your chaste treasure open to this unmastered opportunity” . This is a lesson to the reader that he should always listen to his elders as they are more experienced and know more than us .

Polonius even warns Ophelia about Hamlet and this part even shows us the importance of being obedient and always listening to our elders . Shakespeare has used a variety of language techniques here to make the reader learn valuable lesson about obedience . Shakespeare begins with a Rhetorical Question . ” What is between you ? Give me up the truth” . Polonius too warns Ophelia to stay away from Hamlet as he could deceive her at any moment and as he was the king his primary duty was to look after the needs of the people . Shakespeare also uses a simile . ” Affection ? pooh !

You speak like a green girl” . A green girl is a girl who is inexperienced . So Shakespeare uses this to compare Ophelia to an inexperienced girl . This word “green” refers to the reader as he too is inexperienced and he should always listen to his elders . Shakespeare creates stunning imagery which helps the reader visualize the situation . ” Or – not to crack the wind of the poor phrase” – The image is of a horse or over exertion of a hound which will get the stitch . Shakespeare has used strong comparisons . ” Ay, springs to catch woodcocks” – Wood cock was a foolish bird that fell into snares .

So in this case he compares Ophelia to a woodcock . ” When the blood burns , how prodigal the soul Lends the tongue vows” He tells her that in youth any body will say anything , but it is up to her that she should not believe them “set your entreatments at a higher rate Than a command to parle” Polonius tells her that she should have her own dignity. Its very important for a person to have his or her dignity because others will respect him / her . She should also be at a commanding position. “for Lord hamlet , Believe so much in him that he is young, Do not believe his vows . For they are brokers. ”

He warns Ophelia that she should be careful of Hamlet as he could take advantage of her innocence . In this case Shakespeare uses comparison again . This time he compares Hamlet to “brokers” . I appreciate his comparison as Polonius was confident that Hamlet would break her daughters heart and all the vows and promises they had taken . Ophelia unwillingly acknowledges her father and replies ” I shall obey my lord “. I appreciate her courage as she is ready to sacrifice her love and submits herself to her father’s instructions . There is one more character who shows the reader that he is loyal to his father .

That is Hamlet . In Act 1 scene 5 Shakespeare has made use of supernatural elements – his father’s ghost. His father commanded him to take revenge against the ” serpent that did sting thy father’s life now wears the crown ” He promised his father that he will take revenge. Hamlet was in a state of confusion whether or not take the revenge . He knew that it taking away a person’s life was not in his hands , it was all on All Mighty . His conscience prevented him to do such a devious thing. Still he took revenge to show the reader that he obeys his father.

Another way we know about his obedience is when his father’s ghost tells him “Taint not thy mind , nor let my soul contrive Against thy mother aught. Leave her to heaven”. His father’s ghost commanded him to leave his mother alone to the heaven. When he had a conversation with his mother , he never harmed her but persuaded her to introspect herself. He also forced her to confess that she was responsible for his father’s death. “Confess yourself to heaven”. Friendship is an in-depth relationship combining trust, support, communication, loyalty, understanding, empathy, and intimacy.

In friendship trust lies on each other and they share their feelings with each other . One lesson which we learn is about friendship . Shakespeare has conveyed this lesson for the reader through many ways . One of the way is through Leartes and Polonius . In this situation Leartes is departing to France and Polonius instructs him about what kind of friends he should have . These instructions resembles of a typical father who advices his son when he goes out for future studies . The first thing Polonius tells him “The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail” .

Shakespeare uses stunning language techniques when he portrays some very valuable lessons which could be applied in our lives. He makes use of Personification here . Polonius tries to tell Leartes that nature is favoring him that he should go out of the country to study . Shakespeare gives the wind the quality to “sit” . “look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue”. This line emphasizes that a person should think before he / she speak because if you don’t think the other person might have a wrong impression about you .

This is a lesson for the reader that he should think before he speaks . Be thou familiar , but by no means vulgar. Those friends thou hast and their adoption to them Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel” Harsh words have been used by Shakespeare “vulgar”. Shakespeare has used harsh words so that the reader learns that a person should not be rude in friendship and you should not offend your friends as they are an integral part of your life . This line conveys the message that we should be pleasant in our friendship when dealing with others and that we should not become cheap with the common people .

The 2nd sentence teaches the reader that we should not be overfriendly with someone as there could be disagreements between friends . ” But do not dull thy palm with entertainment” . Negative words like “dull” have been used to emphasize on the point that your friendship should not be meaningless . We should also be very selective while choosing our friends. We should not be with bad company but with true friends who will help us out . So we should only shake our hands with those people who are our true friends .

This is again a lesson for the reader. be aware of entrance to quarrel . but being in bear’t that th’ opposed may be aware of thee ” . “Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice Take each man’s censure , but reserve thy judgement” Harsh words like “quarrel” used by Shakespeare to depict the fact that in friendship there should be no fights. Words like “beware” used to caution the reader that quarrel should not exists in friendship . In the 2nd quote the line emphasizes that a man should always listen more and talk less. Another lesson it tells the reader that he should take advice from other people .

At last Shakespeare has also used a simile ” And it must follow , as the night the day” . Shakespeare’s compares that just as the day follows the night , Leartes should also follow the instructions given to him . I appreciate his use of similes , comparisons as they help the reader to visualize the situation . The other characters that depict the importance of friendship are Horatio and Hamlet . Horatio was Hamlet’s close friend . A friend is whom we share our feelings and they are the ones who give us suggestions if we are facing any crisis .

Horatio also warns Hamlet when he was following a ghost : “Do not my lord” “What if it tempt you toward the flood , my lord, Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff” Horatio warns him that he should not believe in hallucinations as it could harm him or drive him into madness . This shows his concern for his friend. Horatio used to support Hamlet at every ups and downs . A friend is someone who we can trust up on. Horatio was worthy to be trusted by Hamlet . The reader knows about it in the 1st Act when Hamlet tells them to swear that they won’t tell anything about the ghost.

Ay by heaven my lord” . Horatio kept his secret and till the end he did not tell it to anyone. Hamlet used to admire Hamlet and he shows his admiration as a true friend . Hamlet tells Horatio about friendship and tells him to support him. He tells Horatio “For what advancement may I hope from thee , That no revenge hast but thy good spirits” Shakespeare has used adjectives while teaching us valuable lessons in life so that its descriptive and it captures the reader’s attention. “good spirits”. Hamlet tells to Horatio that he should be friendly with him and not betray him in any way or the other .

Hamlet also shares his inner conflict with Horatio. He tells Him “Sir in my heart there was a kind of fighting”- This shows true friendship as Hamlet shares his emotional disturbance with Horatio as he feel secured with him . Harsh words have been used by Shakespeare “fighting” to depict Hamlet’s inner disturbance . Shakespeare has also used characters who don’t value friendship at all – they are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern . They are a contrast to Hamlet and Horatio’s friendship . They are the ones who try to deceive Hamlet but failed . They were sent by the King to find about the reason for his madness .

Hamlet wanted a friend who would be true to him and not deceive him . “By what more dear a better prosper can charge your withal ” . Shakespeare uses simile to compares those characters who did not value friendship- Rosencrantz and Guildenstern “He keeps them like an ape an apple” . He compares these two to an apple kept so that the King could extract all information from them . The reader also learns the importance of prayer . Prayer is very necessary as we should thank God for all we have . We should also confess to God if we have done something wrong . Claudius is guilty of what he has done and confesses to God .

Poetic language used by Shakespeare to show that Claudius was really guilty “To wash it white as snow? Where to serves mercy But to confront the visage of offence? He has used similes ” white as snow ” . He wants God to wash away all his sins completely . ” What then ? ” “What rests? ” “What it can it not” Shakespeare has used Rhetorical Questions in the play to depict the reader that his state of mind was in confusion . Imagery has been created through Shakespeare’s choice of words ” heart with strings of steel ” – The reader imagines his heart strings have hardened to steel as a result of the crime .

Introspection is necessary as a person would be able to find out whether was he correct or wrong . It was a literary tradition to convey the character of the person . ” This above all :to thine own self be true “. This is the most important line as it portrays that whatever we do , we should be answerable to conscience . If we do something superior than we will be able to answer our conscience and will not be ashamed of what we have done. In Hamlet Shakespeare has used Soliloquy to tell us about the characters feelings at that time and this helps us to judge the character of Hamlet. o what a rogue am I” Hamlet humiliates himself .

He also asks himself questions “am I coward? who calls me villain? He condemns himself for not taking any action against Claudius . “why , what an ass am I”. Shakespeare has used rhetorical questions which depict the reader the state of confusion he was in and the inner conflict he was facing at that situation. Hamlet asks himself many questions through out the play. “to be or not to be”- Hamlet was wondering to take the revenge or not. This is an important lesson to the reader that he should ask himself a string of questions to test whether he was right or wrong .

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Shakespeare's Life Lessons in Hamlet
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