Hamlet Essay

In Hamlet’s Shakespeare individuals possess the enduring need to define their role in society; this may result in success or failure. Through the exploration of Gertrude, Hamlet and Ophelia this is effectively highlighted.

Throughout the play, Gertrude possesses the enduring need to define her role in society. This is evident in her continual desire to maintain absolute power, as she commits “such an act that blurs the grace and blush of modesty” by wedding her brother in law – Hamlet’s uncle – Claudius. Shakespeare’s dramatic characterisation of Gertrude highlights her enduring need to define her role in society; as a woman, her success is solely dependent on men, thus her reasoning for wedding Claudius. Through the individual of Gertrude the search to define her societal role is successfully communicated to the contemporary responder.

This is similarly evident through the protagonist Hamlet, who rejects his association with the monarchy and seeks to define his individual role in society. The contemporary responder effectively empathises with Hamlet, as her orates renaissance societal values appreciated in a modern-day context, such as democracy. Hamlet displays this notion during the grave differ scene, where he holds the skull of Yorrick: “Get thee to my lady’s chamber and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come”. Shakespeare’s metaphorical discussion of democracy highlights Hamlet’s need to define his role in society; he conflicts with the monarchy and advocates the principle of equality. This is further enhanced by the famous Shakespearean actor, Frederick Warde, who comments on the notion of democracy that Hamlet has newly discovered: “all will find equality in the universal democracy of death”. Warde’s quote resonates with the statement, as the emerging seventeenth century social paradigm of egalitarianism assisted in Hamlet defining his role in society.

He sought to disassociate himself with the corrupted monarchy and...