Morality & Religion in “Hamlet”
In William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” the prince of Denmark embarks on a quest of revenge against his Uncle Claudius, the new king, for the assassination of his father. In the beginning, Hamlet was contemplating suicide with the news of his father’s sudden death and the quick marriage of his mother, Gertrude and Uncle Claudius, but decides not to by virtue of being a sin. In the play “Hamlet,” Shakespeare examines the role of suicide in morality and religion providing a new perception into how they affect each other, and how both belief guide characters ' motives.
The play was written during a significant time in England, the Elizabethan era was filled with the clashing of monarchs on religion. The tension between Catholicism and Protestantism caused discord amongst the royal families. This discord caused strife amongst the people leading to hard times and violence. Preston Thomas Robert, Jr. speculates “there is a tension between secular and religious morality.” (8) Between the Greek and Christian aspects upon which “attitudes are played out carefully into the various characters: Horatio, the skeptic; Marcellus, the good Catholic; and later Hamlet, the Protestant from Wittenberg.” (Robert, 7) Horatio demonstrates his skepticism in the opening act of the play: Horatio: What, has this thing appeared again tonight? Bernardo: I have seen nothing. Marcellus: Horatio says ‘tis but our fantasy, And will not let belief take hold of him.
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Hamlet does not only value his own morality, but also the morality of others. Besides worrying about his own morality, his mother's morality has much significance to him. As Robert Luyster states, "Hamlet would have Gertrude, like himself, become purified, but this can only be done through the acceding to consciousness' claim to be hard"(Luyster 77). Hamlet contemplates his every action. This problem eventually overwhelms him while also causing his madness. The depth of his thought concerning the murder of Claudius following Hamlet's play reveals his madness. "Reason and action are not opposed in Hamlet, but for most of the play, they fail to coalesce as either we or the characters would like them to" (Kastan 48).
Based on the play of Hamlet by William Shakespeare, suicide is the most prevalent and important themes in Hamlet. Hamlet always asks himself for the reason to stay alive. Even though he always thinks that there is no reason for him to stay alive, however he always chooses to stay. The first reason Hamlet seems to contemplate suicide is because his life is contaminated by sins and revenge. The other reason he is thinking about suicide is because he is young and immature. Young adults usually look for escapes when they become angry with things. There are many instances where Hamlet contemplating suicide and he treats the idea of suicide morally, religiously, and aesthetically, with particular attention to Hamlet’s two important statements about suicide: the “O, that this too too solid flesh would melt” soliloquy (I.ii.129–158) and the “To be, or not to be” soliloquy (III.i.56–88).
Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a tragic play about murder, betrayal, revenge, madness, and moral corruption. It touches upon philosophical ideas such as existentialism and relativism. Prince Hamlet frequently questions the meaning of life and the degrading of morals as he agonizes over his father’s murder, his mother’s incestuous infidelity, and what he should or shouldn’t do about it. At first, he is just depressed; still mourning the loss of his father as his mother marries his uncle. After he learns about the treachery of his uncle and the adultery of his mother, his already negative countenance declines further. He struggles with the task of killing Claudius, feeling burdened about having been asked to find a solution to a situation that was
It may appear that anything could be twisted into a typological pattern. Such interpretations appear to suffer from the structuralist faults of skating too lightly over actual texts, ignoring details that cannot be forced into a preconceived mold, and robbing narratives of their concrete shapes through abstraction. I would stress that there is more to Shakespeare than typology, but I would also insist that typology is often an important part of his drama. To make this claim plausible, however, requires more detailed attention to the text of his plays. In what follows, I will call attention to the textual and dramatic details that justify a typological reading of
Hamlet’s determination and addiction for revenge is confirmed when he is willing to sacrifice his entrance to heaven by separating from his values and beliefs. Initially, Hamlet wishes “that this too too sullied flesh would melt, thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!” He is contemplating suicide as a result of his father’s death and his mother’s haste in remarrying to his father’s brother, Claudius. However, Hamlet brushes off this idea as an option by saying, “Or that the Everlasting had not fixed his canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! Oh, God, God” This portrays the religious beliefs of Hamlet at the time. He wishes suicide was not a sin. However, since it is, he cannot commit it. Similarly, Hamlet also shows his beliefs and values when the Ghost shares his story and then commands Hamlet to avenge his death.
Hamlet is as much a story of emotional conflict, paranoia, and self-doubt as it is one of revenge and tragedy. The protagonist, Prince Hamlet of Denmark, is instructed by his slain father’s ghost to enact vengeance upon his uncle Claudius, whose treacherous murder of Hamlet’s father gave way to his rise to power. Overcome by anguish and obligation to avenge his father’s death, Hamlet ultimately commits a number of killings throughout the story. However, we are not to view the character Hamlet as a sick individual, but rather one who has been victimized by his own circumstances.
In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, suicide is an important and continuous theme throughout the play. Hamlet is the main character who contemplates the thought of suicide many different times throughout the play, since the murder of his father. Hamlet weighs the advantages of leaving his miserable life with the living, for possibly a better but unknown life with the dead. Hamlet seriously contemplates suicide, but decides against it, mainly because it is a mortal sin against God. Hamlet continues to say that most of humanity would commit suicide and escape the hardships of life, but do not because they are unsure of what awaits them in the after life. Hamlet throughout the play is continually tormented by his fathers death and his
In 1600 Europe had abandoned the ideas and teachings of Catholic Christianity and began having a Protestant view on the world. When Protestants changed their worldview they rejected the idea of purgatory, causing a key foundation of their new religion. The Protestant Worldview and reaction of it can be reflected in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In this time of religious and spiritual changes many people are very confused which can be closely related to Prince Hamlet’s immense amount of anxiety and “madness” that causes tension, due to the lack of knowledge and the ghost of his father.
People are under immense societal pressures when making decisions; friends, coworkers, and family members input their opinions on what they believe is best. This external force exerts pressure on them to conform to their ideas. In addition to others imposing their opinions, people can impact others through tragic events such as a death in the family. These can test their core values and cause them to re-evaluate their ideologies. In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Hamlet’s father dies and his mother, Gertrude, remarries soon after the death. Hamlet is initially bothered not only by the death of his father, but by his mother’s quick remarriage, because he felt as though Gertrude did not fully pay her respects and honor his death. However, after meeting and speaking with the ghost of his father, he learns the terrible truth. Hamlet’s father was killed at the hands of Claudius, his uncle and now stepfather, with the intent to obtain the throne. In a plea for vengeance, Hamlet’s father tries to convince him to kill Claudius. Claudius, on the other hand, presses Hamlet from the opposite side to fulfil his own visions for him. In Hamlet, society, as exemplified by his father and Claudius, causes Hamlet much distress as he’s torn between two versions of who he could be. This leads him to explore the act of suicide as an option to escape the new realities of his problematic existence. Ultimately, Hamlet’s realization and acceptance that it is impossible to meet society’s expectations
William Shakespeare’s Hamlet has been widely regarded as one of the greatest tragedies ever written. One prominent theme exemplified in this particular play is the theme of rottenness or decay. Shakespeare uniquely uses disease, rotting, and decay in order to reveal the manifestation and consequence of moral corruption. Physical corruption mirrors the moral corruption within the characters in the play. The moral corruption in Denmark is showcased for the readers throughout the play by images of physical corruption and disease. Shakespeare argues in Hamlet that sin or moral corruption is like a disease that leads one to one’s own “death” or demise. Nobody is immune from it.
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, suicide is treated differently on the aspects of religion, morals, and philosophical views. Suicide is the act of deliberately killing yourself in contrary to your own best interests. In today’s society suicide is highly looked down upon. But Shakespeare used suicide and violence in almost all of his most popular plays. Many of his tragedies used the element of suicide, some accomplished, others merely contemplated. Shakespeare used suicide as a dramatic device. A character’s suicide could promote a wide range of emotions: horror, condemnation to pity, and even respect. Some of his suicides could even take titles like the noble soldier, the violated woman, and star-crossed lovers. In Othello, Othello see suicide as
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, is one of the most famous tragedies William Shakespeare has ever written. Found throughout Shakespeare’s tragedy are many religious references. According to Peter Milward, the author of Shakespeare's Christianity: The Protestant and Catholic Poetics of Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Hamlet, “From a purely religious point of view, which is more than just biblical, Hamlet is rich in homiletic material of all kinds, reflecting almost every aspect of the religious situation in a deeply religious age” (Milward 9). These pieces of religious literature are crucial to the plot of Hamlet. The religious elements found in this tragedy provide the plot, allusions, and foreshadowing.
Hamlet is one of the most well-known and renown plays in the history of theatrics. It’s known for its ethical issues, gender discrimination and many other themes throughout the play. In fact it’s filled with themes such as Morality, Revenge, Deceit, and Family. Hamlet is such a great play because of how its many themes are intricately woven into the plot creating a fabulous storyline filled with tragedy.
thinking. “What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason, how infinite in
A literary critic of Hamlet, Patrick Cruttwell, explores in his writing titled The morality of Hamlet- ‘Sweet Prince or ‘Arrant Knave’? the purpose of religion during Elizabethan times to set moral value sets that often conflicted with man’s nature. Additionally, Cruttwell states the actions in the play aggressively clash with the religious values of the time period. Shakespeare illustrates throughout the play that not abiding by the only moral structure of the time period, religion, man is doomed to self destruction by giving into his chaotic Dionysian nature.