Aspects of disorder are developed in act1 through the state of Denmark and the character backgrounds. Firstly, the audience is told that the recently widowed Queen has remarried quickly, to Claudius, Hamlets uncle; this would cause confusion, shown when the King says “mirth in funeral and dirge in marriage. ” This shows confusion high up in society and could mean the whole state is confused. When Horatio, the wise scholar says “this bodes some strange eruption of our state” the audience would know that something isn’t right, because he is respected by all the other characters.
Disorder is shown in the first characters we meet, Barnardo and Francisco, the guards. Francisco says “sick at heart” showing that the guards aren’t feeling like everything is right. This isn’t good because if the guards aren’t looking after the royalty then anything could happen. When Hamlet describes the worlds as “an unweeded garden…rank and gross in nature. ” It shows how Hamlet is feeling positive about the world and he also agrees with Horatio, just on a bigger scale, as Hamlet talks about the world but Horatio talks about the “state”.
We are also shown signs that characters are paranoid or have something to hide through the use and repetition of the word “seems” throughout Act1. Reasons for this are supported by Helen Gardener in “The Historical Approach to Hamlet. ” When she writes “Hamlet is moving in a world where there are no certainties. ” This causes the word “seems” to show that characters aren’t sure who to trust. Act2 focuses on Hamlets disorder, the antic disposition he is putting on. Hamlet describes Denmark as a “prison”, he then goes on to say “Denmark being one o’th’worst. This shows Hamlet feels that he is stuck and cannot get away, as the world is “a prison”. In Hamlets soliloquy in scene 2, he cannot decided on one emotion, in this process he goes through many, however none of these are positive until he realises he can get his revenge. Some of the emotions are; self loathing, shown when he says “rogue and peasant slave am i! ” this shows that Hamlet doesn’t see himself as someone who is royal or someone who deserves to be in line to the throne. Hamlet also goes through his thoughts and seems to be wondering about life when he says “tears in his eyes…a broken voice…and all for nothing! This shows that Hamlet is jealous of the amount of emotion the Player can show for people he never knew, while Hamlet himself feels he has to hide his emotions. Hamlet then goes into range and anger when he calls Claudius a “remorseless, treacherous, lecherous villain! ” here Hamlet is showing how he feels about Claudius, however Hamlet chooses to prove Claudius as guilty and wait to take any action. Hamlet uses his antic disposition to tell people how he really feels, but sometimes can take it over the top. When he says “the sun breed maggots in a dead dog. It not only links with talk of disease and also Gertrude calling the people of Denmark ‘dead dogs’, this link could show there is no hope for Denmark because the people of the state are ‘dead’ and therefore the state could been seen as ‘dead’. Disorder in Act3 is shown through Ophelia’s deterioration, and that she is the innocent character shows a definite downward spiral and shows the main part of a tragedy. Also, to show the tragedy genre, the whole Act is based within the court, showing the unity of place. However, Hamlets disposition is also still a big part of act3.
Shown in his soliloquy, where he begins with “to be or not to be, that is the question. ” This links with the gross and rank imagery in his first soliloquy in act1 and also the suicidal language used, such as “’gainst self slaughter” this shows Hamlet knows suicide is wrong. In Act3 Hamlet gives reasons to commit suicide including “disprized love” and “insolence of office”. These and that Hamlet manages to talk himself round by the end of his soliloquy show his antic disposition at this point hasn’t completely taken over him. This is shown when he says “there’s the rub…sleep of death what dreams may come. This shows that Hamlet fears the dreams he may get after death and therefore showing he doesn’t have a clear conscience. Immediately after his soliloquy Hamlet is rude to Ophelia, the woman he supposedly loves, he says “get thee to a nunnery” this could offence Ophelia as “nunnery” was slang was brothel, but also Hamlet could be using his antic disposition to protect Ophelia from the fall of Denmark. Hamlet doesn’t seem to be protecting Ophelia as he accuses her of being two faced when he says “given you one face and you make yourself another” this makes Hamlet seem hypocritical as he is putting on an act.
How Hamlets attitude towards Ophelia has changed causes her to tell the audience how he has lost nobility when she says “what a noble mind is here o’erthrown! ” this shows the audience how he has affected Ophelia and also that Hamlet has lost the nobility associated with Aristotle’s tragic hero. The loss of nobility links with Hamlets talk of suicide, Helen Gardener writes “Hamlets first soliloquy opens with the lament that the Almighty has fixed his canon “’gainst self slaughter” in “The Historical Approach to Hamlet”.
Ophelia also tells the audience that she can see how the state has become corrupt since Claudius became King, claiming Hamlet was the “rose” of the “fair state” Floral imagery in links to Ophelia throughout the play, a rose evokes hopeful thoughts. However, Rosencrantz changes the atmosphere of Act3 by reminding the audience that the “spirit upon whose weal depends and rests on the lives of many. ” The word ‘heal’ meaning health shows that the King being rotten and a murderer will cause the health of the state to become rotten.
Claudius reminds the audience that he is rotten by stating his priorities as “my crown, mine own ambition and my queen. ” His crown being his first priority shows he is selfish and the queen being the last shows that he used her to become King. Polonius getting killed causes Ophelia to think about death and she doesn’t want her father to be in the “cold ground”. That Ophelia describes the ground as cold shows she doesn’t see Denmark as a hopeful place for the dead or living. Act 4 shows the downward spiral through the death of Ophelia, also using language and imagery.
Claudius shows his guilt throughout Act4, he wants Hamlet to be contained, and shows this by saying “foul disease…divulging, let it feed. ” Claudius seems to be trying to keep Hamlet away from other characters, for an audience; however, Claudius seems very manipulating. The other characters don’t notice that Claudius is trying to remove Hamlet and protect himself. As the characters cannot see how manipulative Claudius is Hamlet tells Rosencrantz that he is a sponge when he tells him “needs what you have gleaned” this means Claudius uses Rosencrantz as a spy and once he has given Claudius the information he isn’t needed anymore.
When a messenger tells Claudius that “a rabble call him” the use of the word ‘rabble’ shows that the loss of order within the castle has filtered through into the people of Denmark. Also the little respect the Queen has for the public calling them “false Danish dogs. ” The use of the word ‘false’ could show that the people of are being lead by a false leader and therefore the whole state is unordered. Disorder really begins to show more and more throughout the play after Ophelia completely deteriorates. Ophelia seems to really lose her mind when Polonius is killed and Hamlet is sent away.
Ophelia is usually associated with floral imagery but this all stops after she says “withered all when my father died” until after her death. This shows that the disorder of the state and people in charge of the state are all part of the corruption of Ophelia’s personality. This doesn’t stop her death being shocking as it’s the first innocent death and also that the state of Denmark has no hope. Gertrude describes Ophelia as “mermaid-like” which links with her being innocent and feminine. Also, Hamlet telling her to get to a ‘nunnery’ links with her chanting “old lauds. This shows that Ophelia could be expecting to die –that she possibly committed suicide. Ophelia’s innocent contrasts with the revenge and anger Laertes has towards Claudius. Laertes is also shown to be the opposite of Hamlet when he says “let come what comes. ” This shows that Laertes will take anything and fight to avenge his fathers’ death. Also that Laertes starts planning the death of Hamlet would shock the audience as he seems to want to get it over with when he says “to cut his throat in th’church. ” This is because the church was respected at the time the play was written.
In act5, although there is a little comic relief, it shows the disorder of the state as a whole as it is at the worst. This is because after the death of all the royals, there is almost a cleansing feeling throughout the audience and characters. The final sign of hope is Denmark’s enemy – Fortinbras, shows that the lies and deceit within the castle has lost them respect and also the state. The comic relief at the beginning of act5 give the audience a break from the tragic story that has unfolded. The gravediggers begin to sing and this offends Hamlet who asks “Has this fellow no feeling of this business? showing that Hamlet dies still have a sense of right and wrong even though he seemed to have lost his mind. The happiness of the gravediggers’ contrasts with the statement that they get “many pocky corpses nowadays” here the use of the word “nowadays” suggests that the corpses have only been arriving rotten recently. Hamlet shocks Horatio by confessing that he caused the deaths of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Horatio replies by saying “Why what a King is this? ” this shows that Horatio can see how Hamlet has changed, putting no thought into this action and therefore causes the conclusion that Hamlet has changed and no longer over hinks everything. This is opposed by the critical analysis by Helen Gardener, “The Historical Approach to Hamlet” where she writes “Hamlet is, through the whole play, rather an instrument than an agent. ” Hamlet supports this conclusion by then answering his question “to be or not to be” by saying “let be. ” This shows that Hamlet has stopped thinking and wants to be as they should. The doubts in Laertes mind in the last scene, “against my self conscience. ” Shows that not all the main characters are completely corrupted. This is also supported by Horatio, who is not shown to be corrupted in the play.
He then calls himself an “antique roman”, which tells the audience that he would rather commit suicide that live dishonourably. This could confuse the audience as Horatio doesn’t seem to have anything to feel guilty about. The audience will also feel a sense of relief in this act, when Hamlet gives Fortinbras his “dying voice” and therefore restores hope to Denmark. However, “Hamlet dies a victim” according to “The Historical Approach tp Hamlet” by Helen Gardener. The end of the downward spiral is symbolised not only by all the deaths but the gun salute that the soldiers give to respect the dead.
To conclude, in Act1 the disorder begins through the characters and the state. Horatio says “A mote it is to trouble the minds eye. ” This shows that something smalls can change a whole state. In Act2 the focus is mainly on Hamlets antic disposition and his movement through many different negative emotions. Ophelia begins to show signs that the disorder of the state can corrupt innocent personalities by reminding the audience of her place in the hierarchy when she says “I think nothing my lord. ” This shows that she has no say in her life.
Act 4 is the first act to focus mainly on imagery and language. Claudius says “face without a heart” to Laertes about how much he should avenge his fathers’ death and therefore shows his manipulative side. The final act, shows that the disorder of the state is at its worst and can therefore only get better as there are many quick deaths, all from poison. Claudius and Laertes both die due to their own betrayal. However, after the fast decline from a strong, hopeful state to a state with no hope and no king is over, Fortinbras brings back a sense of hope for the state of Denmark.