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Death in Hamlet, Research Paper Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1360

Research Paper

Death, burials rituals, and afterlife beliefs differ from one place to another. People have different cultures in handling the dead. This varies, as some culture would consider the cause of death, others would consider the age, sex, marital status, financial status, or even the role the dead played in the community. The Hamlet is a play that revolves around deaths, funerals, suicide and the afterlife beliefs in Renaissance England as reviewed by Shakespeare.  This paper analyses Shakespeare’s attitudes towards death in Hamlet.

The play starts with a ghost that resembles the deceased King Hamlet. Claudius, the brother to the deceased believed to be the murderer of King Hamlet. He has thus inherited the throne, and further married the king’s widow, Queen Gertrude. The ghost then speaks to Hamlet, the son, declaring that it is indeed his father’s spirit, and confesses that Claudius murdered him. He thus orders Hamlet to seek revenge on Claudius who not only usurped his throne, but also and married his wife. After delivering the message, the ghost disappears with the dawn. This presents a robust beginning that clearly describes that a murder cannot just go freely. Claudius’s maliciously act of murdering his brother is not to go in vain, as the ghost wants revenge.

The second incidence that describes the beliefs associated with death is the feeling of guilt. Hamlet is not sure of the claim that Claudius undoubtedly murdered his father. He hesitates, and due to his thoughtful and contemplative nature, he delays and enters into a deep melancholy and even into an apparent madness. Hamlet decides to test Claudius guilt. He invites a group of traveling actors to Elsinore. He orders the players to perform a scene that closely resembles the imagination of Hamlet on how Claudius must have murdered his father.  He knows it that if Claudius is guilty, he undoubtedly react. Indeed, upon the arrival of the moment of murder in the theater, Claudius leaps up, and then leaves the room. Hamlet and Horatio are fully confident that Claudius is guilty of his deeds and actions of murder.  Hamlet sets to killing his uncle for revenge as per his father’s will.

There is yet another belief to with murdering a person in prayer. Hamlet hesitates and thus delays to killing Claudius. Hamlet finds Claudius in prayer, and he has a believe that killing him while in prayer would lead his soul to heaven.  He considers it as an inadequate revenge and decides to wait. This describes how Claudius escapes his death and seeks refuge for his safety by ordering that Hamlet sent to England immediately.

Hamlet goes to confront his mother, and within this scenario, the unexpected happens. Polonius has hidden behind a tapestry in Hamlet’s mother bedchamber. Upon hearing a noise from behind the tapestry, Hamlet thinks Claudius is hiding there. He draws his sword, stabs through the fabric, killing Polonius. For this unintended crime, Hamlet dispatched to England immediately with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. This marks yet another incidence where Claudius escapes his death. He further senses danger, and not only plans for banishment on Hamlet, but also has given Rosencrantz and Guildenstern sealed orders to the King of England demanding the death of Hamlet.

Ophelia, Polonius’s daughter is a beautiful sweet and innocent young girl. She is mad when she learns that Hamlet, her lover, has murdered his father. Ophelia goes mad while grieving and drowns in the river in the aftermath of her father’s death. Laertes, Ophelia’s brother who stayed in France, returns to Denmark in a rage. Claudius tells him that Hamlet is to blame for his father and sister’s deaths. Claudius takes advantage of the situation and concurs with Laertes and his desire for revenge to have Hamlet die. The plan even becomes more viable when by bad (or somehow good luck) happens and pirates attack Hamlet’s ship forcing his return to Denmark. Hamlet and Laertes were to have a fencing match. However, Claudius will poison Laertes’ blade so that if he draws blood from Hamlet, then he will die.  Just in case the first plan fails, a backup plan made to aim at poisoning Hamlet. He is to drink from a poisoned goblet upon scoring the first or second hits of the match.

Hamlet and Horatio watch the gravediggers work at a distance. Hamlet looks and wonders at the skulls excavated to make room for another grave. He picks up a skull, and the gravedigger who was in the field ever since King Hamlet defeated the elder Fortinbras in battle. He identifies the skull as one for Yorick, who was King Hamlet’s jester.  Hamlet appalled at the sight of the skull, as he knew Yorick in childhood. If it was in other cultures, and I mention my culture, The Dominican Republic culture, upon finding the skulls, the grave covered immediately. Another grave then dug elsewhere for the burial to occur.  Hamlet inquires about whose grave they dug.  One of the gravediggers jokingly replies that the grave is his own, for he dug it, then he also jokes that the grave belonged to no man or woman since men and women are living, while the grave occupant would be dead. The gravediggers praised the woman ship possessed by the woman that died, but sobbed that she was already dead, not recognizing Hamlet, the prince.

Upon this point, death arrived a point that described the reaping of what one sowed. It happens that everyone is digging his or her own grave. Through Horatio, Hamlet finds out that the letter to the king of England has ordered his murder. He cunningly steals the letter and forges a letter ordering the murder of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. He tells Horatio that he believes in the preparedness of death; since death comes unexpectedly. Suddenly, the funeral procession for Ophelia starts.  Claudius, Gertrude, Laertes, and other mourners enter the church. Hamlet wonders who had died, but noticed that the funeral rites seemed “maimed,” thus indicating that the dead committed suicide. Hamlet and Horatio hide as the procession reach the grave. Hamlet realizes Ophelia had died. The priest says that giving Ophelia a proper Christian burial would not be of any good as the dead would be profaned. This again seems a customary culture in Renaissance England, where those committing suicide not subjected to a proper Christian burial.

Laertes leaped into Ophelia’s grave to embrace her. This presents a subtle motif of incest that hangs over brother-sister relationship. It rarely happens in most cultures. Hamlet bursts and declares in agonized fury his own love for Ophelia. Hamlet cries out the things he would do would do for Ophelia that Laertes could not dream, and here Gertrude and Claudius declare that Hamlet as mad. I have not attended a funeral in the United States but in the Dominican Republic, which is my country the dead buried in the cemetery, not churchyard. A daily holy meeting carried out for nine mourning days after the occurrence of death.  A funeral service done in the house of the dead, where a priest prays for the departed soul and the congregations sings and mourns with the affected family. Thereafter, the burial takes place at the cemetery.

The revenge mission starts off, and Laertes and Hamlet have a sword fight. It is here that many strange happenings occur unexpectedly. Before the beginning of the duel, Hamlet takes time and apologizes to Laertes for unintentionally causing harm to his father and sister. Hamlet gives a score on the first points against Laertes, and they take a short break. Gertrude is happy and wipes sweat off her son’s forehead, and goes ahead and drinks the poisoned wine, which Hamlet declines to drink. She dies swiftly. Laertes successfully wounds Hamlet, though he does not die immediately. Laertes then cut by his own sword’s blade, and reveals it to Hamlet is Claudius is responsible for the queen’s death. Hamlet goes ahead, stabs Claudius with the poisoned sword, and has him drink the remaning-poisoned wine.  Hamlet and Claudius die immediately after Hamlet achieves his revenge. In general, Shakespeare reveals that the majority of those who kill by the sword die by the sword, and committing murder is just but digging once own grave.

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