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Morality in Hamlet

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Alexa Nolte

on 2 May 2016

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Transcript of Morality in Hamlet

Murder #1: Old Hamlet
Committed by Claudius
Murder #2: Polonius
Committed by Hamlet
Death #3: Ophelia
At the time the play was written, suicide was considered to be a sin and did not warrant a Christian burial or entrance to heaven after death.
It is possible that the action of her suicide was Ophelia's way of acting for herself since she was a pawn throughout the play. Her suicide is finally something that she has control over, so she makes it symbolic of what she was going through.
Ophelia's circumstances
Her father's death
Her brother gone away
Relationship with Hamlet

Murder #4: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
Committed by Hamlet
Murder #5: Gertrude
Committed by Claudius
Despite murder being a universally immoral act, some of the murders and deaths in Hamlet may be justifiable due to the characters' mental states.
Murder #6: Laertes
Murder #7: Claudius
Murder #8: Hamlet
Committed by Hamlet
Committed by Hamlet
Committed by Laertes/Claudius
Claudius is the initiator of the play's conflicts
initially killed Old Hamlet to gain his power and his wife
Then Claudius planned and executed the murder of Hamlet but not before Hamlet could poison him as well
First murder of the play
shows how characters handle their problems
Motive: Power and social stance
Hamlet's first murder in the play
Shows no initial remorse
Possible regret?
Motive: Revenge
The murder did not have anything to do with his revenge plan.
"Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’s death
The memory be green, and that it us befitted
To bear our hearts in grief and our whole kingdom
To be contracted in one brow of woe,
Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature
That we with wisest sorrow think on him
Together with remembrance of ourselves.
Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,
Th' imperial jointress to this warlike state,
Have we—as ’twere with a defeated joy,
With an auspicious and a dropping eye,
With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,
In equal scale weighing delight and dole—
Taken to wife." (I. ii. 1-14)
"Under the which he shall not choose but fall.
And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe,
But even his mother shall uncharge the practice
And call it accident." (IV. vii. 63-66)
"Forgive me my foul murder? That cannot be, since I am still possessed of those effects of murder: My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen." (III. iii. 52-55)
"How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead! ...
A bloody deed? Almost as bad, good mother,
As kill a king and marry with his brother."
(III. iv. 24-30)
"To draw apart the body he hath killed,
O'er whom his very madness, like some ore
Among a mineral of metals base,
Shows itself pure. He weeps for what is done." (IV. i. 25-28)
Hamlet's soliloquy about suicide
While they were sneakily making plans
with the king behind Hamlet's back,
they did not necessarily need to die for
this. Hamlet could have had the pair
locked up or banished without having
them immediately killed.
Committed with no remorse
Motive: To prove a point to Claudius
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?—To die,—to sleep,—
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to,—’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d.
But that the dread of something after death,—
The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns,—puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought;
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
“is’t not perfect conscience to quit him with this arm? And is’t not to be damned, to let this canker of our nature come in further evil?” (V. ii. 67-70)
“And yet it is almost against my conscience” (V. ii. 298)
~ Laertes
Shows how other people could get caught up in the
tangled web of other people's messy revenge plots
Her murder was not intentional and was not planned,
thus making her death
Even despite Hamlet feeling some rancor towards
her for getting over his father so quickly and
marrying Claudius, the circumstances at the
end of act 5 creates a sudden, unjust death.
Hamlet earlier in the play did feel some feelings of
betrayal towards his mother:
"Oh God, a beast that wants discourse of reason
would've mourned longer--married to my uncle...
within a month...oh most wicked speed.." (I.ii.150)
Claudius: wants to rid Denmark of Hamlet because Hamlet knows the truth and may expose him
selfish desire to protect his reputation
Laertes: avenging his father's death
Laertes shows a moment of having a guilty
conscience when he is about to go through with
the plan to kill Hamlet. Although his motive
is avenging his father's death, he shows
in this moment that revenge may not be the
answer. Despite his conscience, he goes through
with the plan anyway.
Hamlet is a danger
"My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth" (IV. iv. 66)
Although Gertrude did something questionable
by marrying her husband's brother, which may be seen as wrong and immoral, she was one of the
few characters to not actively pursue revenge
or any other type of plot against anyone.
Therefore, even though she hurt Hamlet, she does not deserve to die.
The audience can't learn their lesson about revenge without this death
the doom of seeking revenge without the consequences

He paid the price for what he considered the most important thing at the time
"An eye for an eye"
Not Justified
Motive: anger/ self defense after being poisoned by Laertes
Laertes was in a vulnerable state after losing his father and his sister so quickly. In this weak state, he was manipulated by Claudius.
Hamlet is justifying his thoughts of revenge against Claudius by explaining all of the wrongs that Claudius committed against Hamlet.
"[Claudius] is justly served, it is a poison tempered by himself. Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet. Mine and my father's death come not upon thee, Nor thine on me!" Dies.
(V. ii. 329-333) ~Laertes
"Heaven make thee free of it! I follow thee."
(V. ii. 334) ~Hamlet
Hamlet and Laertes forgive each other in this moment
They realize the faults of their ways toward each other
Hamlet had acknowledged before how they were met with similar situations
"But I am very sorry, good Horatio, that to Laertes I forgot myself, for by the image of my cause I see the portraiture of his." (V. ii. 75-78) ~Hamlet
The "Gentlemen" betrayed Hamlet's trust by being paid by the King to spy on him
Their actions were wrong, but did not warrant their deaths
Being thus benetted round with villainies, Ere I could make a prologue to my brains, They had begun the play. I sat me down, Devised a new commission, wrote it fair.
Why, man, they did make love to this employment, They are not near my conscience. Their defeat Does by their own insinuation grow. 'Tis dangerous when the baser nature comes Between the pass and fell incensed points Of mighty opposites.
The whole conflict of the play was caused
by Claudius' greed and hunger for desire.
Claudius was the root of the corruption, therefore driving characters into conflicts.
Regardless of the mental health of Hamlet, Laertes, Ophelia, or even Gertrude, Claudius was the one to cause them to fall into their mental conflicts about how to react to the situation.
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