Isolation as the Root of Hamlet's Torment Essay

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Isolation as the Root of Hamlet's Torment

Does Hamlet stand alone? Does this magnate of English literature hold any bond of fellowship with those around him, or does he forge through his quandaries of indecision, inaction and retribution in solitude? Though the young Dane interacts with Shakespeare's entire slate of characters, most of his discourse lies beneath a cloud of sarcasm, double meaning and contempt. As each member of Claudius' royal court offers their thickly veiled and highly motivated speech Hamlet retreats further and further into the muddled depths of his conflict-stricken mind. Death by a father, betrayal by a mother, scorn by a lover and abhorrence by an uncle leave the hero with no place to turn, perhaps creating a
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Prior to this we discover Polonius' rancor for the prince when he warns Ophelia of Hamlet's feigned affections: "Do not believe his vows" (1.3, 127). As with Claudius, there exists little cordiality, less true affection and even less of an attempt to disguise the relationship. The king fears his nephew's grief-enraged condition and the dutiful advisor mirrors these suspicions. Hamlet, meanwhile, casts an equal contempt at the pair in protest of Claudius' unnatural ascension to the roles of both father and husband.

Built up around this central opposition of Claudius and Polonius remain the various accessories to the conflict. Laertes follows his father's lead in defamation of Hamlet and further admonishes against Ophelia's association with the prince: "Fear it" (1.3, 33) and "Be wary then" (1.3, 43). Hamlet's former schoolmates Rosencrantz and Guildenstern likewise ally with Claudius to hugely pervert the notion of allegiance. Blind of their betrayal, a companionless Hamlet joyfully greets the pair as "My excellent good friends" (2.2, 227), only later to discover their disloyal collusion with the king. As willing participants in a scheme against their childhood companion, they bitterly strip Hamlet of yet another outlet for compassion. The queen hints that their friendship will be abused to gain the confidence of Hamlet, "And I am sure, two

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