Hamlet, one of Shakespeare’s most well known and received stage plays is about the story of a young Danish Prince and his need to find the truth behind his father’s sudden death. Claudius- Hamlet’s uncle marries his mother- the queen, and takes the throne of Denmark for himself. As the play progresses it is found that it was in fact Claudius who murdered the old king Hamlet and thus creating dramatic conflict as the young prince tries to find ways to avenge his slain father.
Unlike traditional stage plays of that era however, Hamlet could be examined on a much deeper level for its meaning and themes, many of which still apply today to a modern audience. One of the main themes of Hamlet is really the driving force behind the play’s plot; is the corruption within a royal household and by that extension, an entire nation.
From the scene provided, it could be seen how the young Hamlet is showing disgust for the house of Denmark, by indirectly abusing the king and the authority using a range of metaphors and biblical allusions. Polonius, the king’s trusted council member is compared to by Hamlet as that of a worm.
“Your worm is your only emperor for diet.” Indeed Hamlet continues to use this allusion throughout the scene, by encompassing Claudius, Polonius and everyone else in the Denmark system; and comparing them all to grave worms, Shakespeare has created an effective piece of imagery which fits in perfectly with what had been said at the beginning of the play by a common watchmen;
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”
Although by no definition a traditional play, Hamlet still very much contains elements of conflict, and when viewed as a whole, it is easy to see the standard three stage event sequence of; conflict introduction, climax and conflict resolution. The conflict here is not so much Hamlet’s need to avenge his dead father, but rather the prince’s personal crusade against the corruption that has plagued Denmark.
Although not portrayed as much in the given scene, the character of Claudius is very much part into a negative light from the perspective of a Elizabethan audience. Who both cheats and lies to get his way in court, “With one auspicious and one drooping eye” Claudius encourages his courts to accept his marriage of Gertrude.
This is where Hamlet differentiates itself from that of a traditional stage play. There are set characters and there are set roles for each of them. But what is interesting is the fact that the characters in Hamlet not always abide by these traditional roles. And more often than not, drama and confusion is created when there contains a doubling of roles. For example, the case with Laertes and Hamlet both is being the Tragic hero and the avengers. The morality of their cause would both seem noble and justified to some degree,