The Great Chain of Being in Hamlet

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The main concept of the Great Chain of Being is that every existing thing in the universe has its “place” in an outlined hierarchical order. Where it is placed depends on the amount of spirit and importance in society it has. The chain commences at God and progresses downward to angelic beings, kings, princes, nobles, regular humans, animals, plants, and many other objects of nature. According to this theory, all existing things have their specific function in the universe, and causing any kind of disorder on the higher links of this chain courts disaster. In Hamlet, Shakespeare dwells on the idea of a disheveled natural social order which restrains human beings’ ability to live peacefully. The society presented in this play is a society …show more content…
Fortinbras is threatening Denmark with vicious attack; the throne is stolen from its rightful owner; incest is being committed on the throne, and Denmark is being viewed as an appallingly weak monarchy. As the disturbance of the Great Chain of Being begins, it only shows signs of getting worse. The fact that Old Hamlet and Claudius are royal opposites does not help anything either. Old Hamlet is known as “a ‘majestical’ king and a great soldier”, and Claudius is known as “a smiling, creeping, serpent” (Wilson 58,44), while Old Hamlet’s “wisdom and human understanding” is contrasted with the depravities of Claudius, “murderer and usurper” (States 94,98). These profound divergences between Old Hamlet and Claudius are certainly dooming for Denmark’s Great Chain as they induce calamity. Speaking of the disaster-prone Denmark that is presented in this play, Hamlet, the beloved main character, is a magnificent representation of the dysfunction that lies among the Great Chain of Being. Hamlet shows signs of having immense depression, suicidal thoughts, and considerations of fleeing Denmark. When someone wants to escape the country after a leader’s death, it is pretty obvious that something is tousled. After Claudius calls him a coward for being upset over Old Hamlet’s death and Gertrude basically forces him to
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