Hamlet is a tragic play composed in the 16th century by William Shakespeare. It’s the longest of Shakespeare’s plays and is said to be one of the most popular. The play revolves around Hamlet, the crown prince who came home after the murder of his father, King Hamlet. Claudius Prince Hamlet is blamed for the death of the King, and he soon marries Queen Gertrude, who is Hamlet’s mother. Marriage makes Claudius the Ruler of the Kingdom a question that is not pleasing to Prince Hamlet. Hamlet undertakes a number of activities aimed at establishing the cause of his father’s death. He is haunted by the ghost of his father, who seeks revenge for his death. The play inculcates several artistic features to that makes is interesting and captivating to watch and read. The following paper seeks to elaborate the several artistic features that are prevalent in the play. It further seeks to understand the ability and effectiveness of Hamlet in using drama to address his problems.
It is important to note that the play, The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark is set during war times. Denmark and Norway are at war and the latter is planning a revenge after King Fortinbras was killed by the Danes (Eliot 98). Shakespeare reciprocates the war theme in the play by equipping the different character with different levels of skills and levels in acting. The character creatively and intuitively uses their skills to combat each other. The play portrays characters who are discontent with their present fate and are eager to go to any lengths to forge new reality that will suits their perceived agendas. King Claudius and prince Hamlet ranks as the most skilled in their use of deception as tool to achieve their goals. They wittingly use deception to manipulate and control others to fit in their reality. Deception which is rife throughout the play has been perfected as an art and also as a weapon to be used against perceived enemies. Hamlet is secretly fostering hatred for his uncle, King Claudius. He seeks to avenge for the blood of his father who he suspects was killed by Claudius. He has resolved to expose Claudius guilt to the whole of Denmark (Simon 710). In a move to get closer to his goals he deceptively stages a play seeking to reenact the death of his father. He invites the King Claudius and Gertrude his mother who are unaware about the content of the play. The play staged within Shakespeare’s play is directed to Claudius whom it seeks to reveal his guilt.
Art is predominantly known to capture a person’s true reflection in their genuine conscience. The king is overcome by the power of the play and is caught off guard when he retreats to his chambers even before the play is over. He retreats to pray for forgiveness as he is haunted by his actions of killing his brother. In his chambers he engages in serious thoughts on whether to repent of his actions and accepts the consequences or keep on denying. Hamlets see this as a clear indication that Claudius is guilty of his action and follows him up to his chamber with an intention of killing him. He finds him praying where reasons that he will not attack him since he would send him straight to heaven and his father would remain forever in purgatory. Queen Gertrude is angered by the play and engages Hamlet in a heated is discussion rebuking him for his actions (Simon 710). The play is clear indication of the ability of art to be used as mirror together with deception with a goal of determining authenticity.
The play within play has an immense impact on Claudius as its pulls away the false artificial disguise he had been holding up over the death of his brother, King Hamlet. The anger on Queen Gertrude is also clear indication of the effectiveness of the play with in a play (Eliot 98). She is adamant for the truth has been revealed and their conspiracy to kill her husband is now in the public domain. The play reveals the true reality of the monarch which was embedded on foundations fantasy and lies. The king Claudius is not the true legitimate heir to the crown and has been living is pretense. Hamlet uses the play as a tool to reveal and expose the illegitimacy of the king Claudius. He further uses deception to invite the king and queen to watch the play without knowing that they are the target.
Following the play it becomes evident that Claudius is bent on eliminating Hamlet for having discovered the truth. Since Hamlet returned to mourn his father Claudius had been mocking him for having genuine and authentic grief over his late father. He questions why the cloud of grief is still upon him “How is it that the clouds still hang on you?”(I.ii.69) (Eliot 98).Together with Queen Gertrude they question the source of his grief citing that everyone had moved on part from him. She question him on the particularity of his grief which is different from every other Dane. This clearly indicate the queen’s feeling of guilty for her role in the death of her husband and marriage to Claudius. The questioning is clearly a sign of a person who in internally hurting for her actions yet has adopted a false smile and moved on. Claudius is aware that Hamlet is portraying genuine and heartfelt grief for his father who he gruesomely murdered for the thirst of power. Hamlet continued grief state may one day demand the truth of the cause of his father death. The continuous lack of compassion from Queen Gertrude and Claudius dishearten Hamlet and elicits in him desire to know the truth behind the death of his father.
Art resonates again with Claudius use of mockery and ridicule against Hamlet. The mockery is meant to intimidate him on his quest to know the real cause of his father death. Claudius ridicules him as being weak and flawed due to his grief and pokes him to gain courage (Eliot 98). Claudius has duped the whole of Denmark with false smile to conceal his grave sin of killing his own brother. He argues that Hamlet should accept the new reality and overcome his grief. He wants to Hamlet adapt to his deception and move on like every any other Dane without asking much questions. This reveal the sinister that King Claudius is in sweeping everything under the carpet under the guise of moving on.
Hamlet on discovering the state of his situation adopts madness as disguise to prevent him from being killed by Claudius. It is clear that Hamlet learnt the art of deception from Claudius. He is sure that every actions he takes Claudius will think he is acting. He therefore deceptively undertakes an antic of disposition as he gathers information on his father’s death. He secretly fakes madness as he hunts for retribution for his father’s blood. At this state he covertly gathers information from all over the place as people think he is genuinely mad. The clandestine antic of dispositions reveals yet another role of art in the play. The disguise serves to protect Hamlet from being eliminated by Claudius who is being genuinely disturbed by genuine grief. Hamlet wittingly uses deception to protect his life from being taken early by Claudius. The disposition further serves to dampen Claudius guilt of his actions for the foul murder of his brother.
The play is true exhibit on the ingenuity of William Shakespeare’s ability to use art in literature. Deception in the play has been used to depict various themes and further making the character skillful. It has been elaborated a tool for concealing the truth as well as exposing it that the same time. Claudius conceals his role in the death of his brother whom he poisons by marrying the queen promptly and encouraging the public to move on. Hamlet deceptively invites the king and the queen to a play meant to expose their vile actions. In addition depiction has been used as an art of protection. Hamlet knowing Claudius intentions to kill him undertakes antic of disposition and fakes madness to save his life.
Eliot, Thomas Stearns. “Hamlet and his problems.” The sacred wood: Essays on poetry and criticism (1920): 95-103.
Simon, Bennett. “Hamlet and the Trauma Doctors: An essay at interpretation.” American Imago 58.3 (2001): 707-722.