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Hamlet – Act IV

For all those that love Shakespearean plays, we all know that one of his best works is Hamlet, a full length play. Actually, the length of this play is not the only characteristic of this play that can be considered full, this play is even full death. Death is in fact one of the main theme’s of Hamlet that made it so famous. The protagonist of the story, Hamlet had already lost his father even before the story started. And the death of his father is what basically kept the narrative moving. Here are some of the character’s that had also experienced death of a father in the story: the siblings Laertes and Ophelia, Fortinbras.

These four characters had responded to the death of their father in a relatively varying manner. Hamlet’s response to his father’s death, also named Hamlet, can be roughly described as fondness, fondness of the idea of death. It seems that since his father’s death, hamlet had been haunted by questions that concerns death, these are inquiries that as we know doesn’t have answers. Hamlet’s obsession with death is best displayed trough his famous “to be or not to be” soliloquy. That line alone is considered by many as the most famous line in literary history.

That line can literally translate as an inquiry of what is better, to live or to die? But Hamlet’s response to his father’s death didn’t just end as a mere obsession or fondness of the death. It also sparked flames of revenge in the burning heart of Hamlet. His father’s death urged Hamlet to kill his uncle Claudius, the murderer of his father, to achieve some kid of retribution. But Hamlet, for some weird reason is afraid to avenge his father. Maybe that is because of his habit of being indecisive. The death of his father had also made Hamlet indifferent to death.

Hamlet had killed and yet felt no sense of regret about it. We can even categorize Hamlet as cold-blooded when it comes to killing. The prince of Norway, Fortinbras, just like Hamlet and Laertes is driven by the same affliction, revenge. It appears the reason for Fortinbras’ revenge is that his father was killed by the already deceased father of Hamlet. Fortinbras went to such rage that he would want to destroy and conquer Hamlet’s whole country, Denmark. The siblings Laertes and Ophelia, though brothers and sisters, had varying responses to their father’s death.

Laertes basically had the same response as Hamlet did, but minus the mad fondness about death. Laertes was basically fueled with rage, he wanted nothing but revenge for his father. That is just understandable since that is how Shakespeare had characterized him, a very impulsive person. With Laertes’ linear thinking, he had thought about nothing but to get some revenge for his father Polonius. On the other hand, Ophelia had just plummeted to the pits of insanity as a response to her father’s death.

It was not merely because, Hamlet, her object of love, had caused her father’s death; although, arguably it was really a major reason, but it is also because she was dependent to her father. She was so used in obeying everything her father tells her that when it came to the point that the person that used to give her orders is gone, her concept of reality just broke like a piece of glass. Despite her craziness, Ophelia had managed to appear womanly and presentable. Maybe it is because that is how Shakespeare had characterized Ophelia, always maidenly and always concerned of what others have to say especially her father and brother.

It is also shown in play that the siblings Laertes and Ophelia had genuine love for their father Polonius, so their actions are just understandable. Because as we know in reality, that the main cause of disputes, wars, craziness, and incomparable and sometimes incurable depression is death of a love of a loved one. Ophelia had distributed flowers in Act four. This is considered symbolic as bouquets have underlying meanings back in the Victorian era. According to Liungman, symbols are representations of ideas or concepts (Liungman 553). In the case of Hamlet, here are the meanings behind Ophelia’s flowers.

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