Much of the dramatic sarcasm and dramatic tenseness in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet. The Prince of Denmark” derives from the interplay between the characters’ public and private character. The face that each of the characters shows to the public contrasts with. in most instances. the private character of the same character. Similarly. the private “face” or motivations of the characters normally stands in diametral resistance to their public character. The most obvious illustrations of this moral force is. are class. the characters of Claudius and Gertrude who must. by necessity. maintain up a deceitful set of public perceptual experiences to cover their offenses of unfaithfulness and slaying.
These obvious illustrations. nevertheless. are no more profound or built-in to the play’s thematic impact than the likewise lip services which afflict about every other character of the drama. The about cosmopolitan nature of societal mendacity is represented in “Hamlet” as being. in fact. the beginning of what is “rotten” in Denmark. The glare of the drama exists. in portion. in Shakespeare’s ability to show the manner in which lip service and being “two-faced” can impact all degrees of society and pervert even friendly relationship and love.
In many ways. the dramatis personae of characters in “Hamlet” reflect a societal microcosm. with Hamlet. the immature Prince. and Ophelia. stand foring the young person of society and the shade of Hamlet’s male parent. Gertrude. Claudius. and Polonius stand foring the societal constitution and cultural traditions which have fostered on-going mendacity. From the really opening scene of the drama. Shakespeare. with a bent for astonishing nuance. writes the undermentioned exchange between Bernardo and Horatio: BERNARDO Say. What. is Horatio at that place?
HORATIO A piece of him. ( Hamlet. 1. 1 25-28 ) Horatio’s answer indicates. harmonizing to critics of the drama. that he is mentioning to the cold dark air which has reduced him to a shuddering gloss of his former ego. However. the line can besides be read as a elusive extension of the subject of mendacity adn meant to bespeak that even Horatio. who will be revealed throughout the class of the drama as a true friend to Hamlet. has been impacted by the “rottenness” in Denmark. the societal lip service which holds all in its sway.
Similarly. Polonius. who represents the spiritual and religious facets of society in the societal microcosm of the drama. dispenses words of wisdom to Laertes. moving the portion of the wise and compassionate patriarch. a adult male of ethical motives and God. Among his words of wisdom in Act One. Scene Three are the undermentioned observations: “Beware/ Of entryway to a wrangle. but being in. / Bear’t that the opposed may mind of thee. / Give every adult male thy ear. but few thy voice ; / Take each man’s animadversion. but reserve thy judgment” ( Hamlet 1. 3. 69-73 ) .
Obviously. Polonius fails to populate by his ain words. He openly intrigues against Hamlet. plunging himself into a wrangle which was non his ain. and after making so. fails to “Bear’t that the opposed may mind of thee” ( Hamlet 1. 3. 71 ) . but ends up being killed by Hamlet on accident. Key to all of the sarcasms which are associated with Shakespeare’s them of societal mendacity is the character of Hamlet himself. If the reader or audience member who is sing Hamlet believes in the bosom that Hamlet is. so. mad. so much of Hamlet’s behaviour can be explained by lunacy.
If. on the other manus. the reader or audience member believes that Hamlet is merely showing yet another societal “face” — this one in order to interrupt the lip service of society — so Hamlet’s behaviour becomes a method by which Shakespeare examines the heavy toll which is exacted on the person in a hypocritical society. There is every ground to believe that the latter context is the one which Shakespeare hope to accomplish in the drama. One good spot of grounds for this guess is in Act 2. Scene One. when Ophelia. stricken by the province which Hamlet has allowed himself to acquire into. she voices her concerns to her male parent. Polonius.
Ophelia describes Hamlet “with his doublet all unbraced” ( Shakespeare. 2. 1. 85 ) and “No hat upon his head” ( Shakespeare 2. 1. 86 ) . His visual aspect is taken to be an indicant of his inner-state. impeling the sense of societal frontage as functioning in topographic point of truth in society. Ophelia concludes that Hamlet appeared as though “he had been loosed out of hell/ To talk of horrors. –he comes before me” ( Shakespeare 2. 1. 90-91 ) . The deduction is that Hamlet’s disheveled province must bespeak that he is. in fact. mad.
Obviously. while Hamlet appears huffy to others. he is plotting with great. rational preciseness to expose what he fears is the offense committed by his female parent and his uncle. The sub-text of this is that Hamlet should be huffy given the world of the quandary he faces. The great sarcasm is. in fact. that he is non huffy. but sane which will non let him to populate in a universe of prevarications and lip service. When Claudius and Gertrude react with horror to the “play within a play” Hamlet’s response is “What. frighted with false fire! ” ( Shakespeare 3. 2. 262 ) bespeaking his really rational apprehension of the state of affairs and of the world of societal mendacity.
At this point. it seems that simply cognizing of the lip service is adequate for Hamlet because when Claudius responds “Give me some visible radiation: off! ” ( Shakespeare 3. 2. 265 ) it is an admittance that he. the King. and by association the whole of Denmark exists in “darkness” which is the darkness of societal lip service. Although lip service is ne’er really justified in “Hamlet. ” there is an interesting “reason” which is given in Act 4 of the drama as to why people may be so easy led into lip service and self-deceit and that ground is: human mortality. When Hamlet observes of the dead that “There’s another: why may non that be the skull of a / attorney?
Where be his quibbles now. his quillets. / his instances. his term of offices. and his fast ones? ” ( Shakespeare. 4. 1. 94-98 ) the reader or audience member realizes that the human lip service portrayed throughout the drama represents non merely the prevarications and deceit necessary to ease human aspiration in a corrupted society. but the human inclination to reject “cosmic” issues such as life and decease and human spiritualty in favour of philistinism and worldly power. Works Cited Shakespeare. William. The Works of William Shakespeare Gathered into One Volume. New York: Oxford University Press. 1938.