This essay The Tragedy Of Hamlet has a total of 911 words and 4 pages.
The Tragedy Of Hamlet
In Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, the death of a character becomes a frequent event. Although many people lose their lives as a result of their own self-centered wrong-doing, there are others whose deaths are a result of manipulation from the royalty. This is the case of Polonius' family. The real tragedy of Hamlet is not that of Hamlet or his family but of Polonius' family because their deaths were not the consequence of sinful actions of their own but rather by their innocent involvement in the schemes of Claudius and Hamlet.
The first character to die in Hamlet is Polonius. Although Polonius often acts in a deceitful manner when dealing with Hamlet, it is only because he is carrying out plans devised by the king or queen to discover the nature of Hamlet's madness. Being the king's Lord Chamberlain, it is his duty to obey the king and queen's wishes and it is this loyalty that eventually proves to be fatal for him. An example of how Polonius' innocent involvement with the royalty results in his death can be found at the beginning of Act III, scene iv, when Hamlet stabs him while he is hiding behind the arras in Gertrude's room. This shows how Polonius, a man unaware of the true nature of the situation he is in, is killed by a member of the royalty during the execution of one of their schemes. This makes Polonius' death a tragedy.
The next member of Polonius' family to die is his daughter Ophelia. Ophelia's death is tragic because of her complete innocence in the situation. Some may argue that Polonius deserves his fate because of his deceitfulness in dealing with Hamlet while he is mad, but Ophelia is entirely manipulated and used by Hamlet and the king for their own selfish reasons. An example of how Ophelia is used by Hamlet takes place in Act II, scene i, when Hamlet uses her to convince his family he is mad. Ophelia explains to Polonius how Hamlet has scared her, causing Polonius to draw the conclusion that Hamlet has an "antic disposition". Although this is subject to interpretation and many believe that this is simply Hamlet taking one last look at Ophelia before he becomes engaged in his plan to kill Claudius, the fact that he scares her and does not try to alleviate these fears points to the conclusion that he is simply using her to help word of his madness spread throughout the kingdom via Polonius. In Act III, scene iv, Hamlet kills Polonius while he is hiding behind the arras in the Queen's room. This event causes Ophelia to become insane and leads to her eventual death in a river near the castle in Act IV, scene vii. It can be seen how the combined scheming of Hamlet and Claudius concludes in her death. Claudius' scheme brings about Hamlet's scheme which brings about the death of Polonius which leads to Ophelia's death. The passing of Ophelia is a tragedy because she does nothing deserving of death, she is merely used for other people's personal gain.
The last member of Polonius' family to die is Laertes, Ophelia's brother and Polonius' son. Laertes' death is tragic because, although he kills Hamlet, he is avenging his father's death, an act, with reference to the moral climate of the 1600s, that would have been condoned by the people who saw the play. The difference between Hamlet and Laertes is that Laertes does not use others to attain his goals and his revenge is in part due to the pressure put on him by Claudius. This makes Laertes' murder of Hamlet excusable and his death a tragedy. An example of how Claudius uses Laertes to try and murder Hamlet is seen in Act IV, scene vii, lines 108 to 110.
Claudius and Laertes are discussing Hamlet when Claudius says:
Laertes, was your father dear to you? Or are you like the painting of a sorrow, A face without a heart?
He is asking Laertes whether he is really sorry about his father's death or if he is just acting mournful without feeling mournful. Claudius uses these lines to lead Laertes into a plan to kill Hamlet, asking him what he will do to prove his love for his father in Act IV, scene vii, lines 124 to 126.
Hamlet comes back; what would you undertake To show yourself in deed
Topics Related to The Tragedy Of Hamlet
Characters in Hamlet, English-language films, British films, Mental illness in fiction, Ophelia, Polonius, Prince Hamlet, Hamlet, Laertes, Gertrude, Critical approaches to Hamlet, hamlet by william shakespeare, lord chamberlain, sinful actions, king and queen, tragedy of hamlet, william shakespeare, scene iv, deceitfulness, selfish reasons, act iii, arras, act ii, claudius, true nature, gertrude, royalty, innocence, manipulation, loyalty, madness
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