July 19, 2013
William Shakespeare, widely known as the greatest writer in the English language as well as England’s National poet, wrote a vast amount of histories, comedies, tragedies and poems. A number of plays written by Shakespeare were created and designed to influence his audience. He succeeded at this as he aroused thoughts or emotions and by debating events that were occurring during Elizabethan times, whether it be social, cultural or economical. Shakespeare presents multiple themes throughout each of his plays. Themes including, love, hatred, power, incest, but above all is revenge (Lemon2X). Each of these themes are clearly displayed in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. Throughout the play, there are also changes in the characters personalities which help to reiterate these themes further. In the speech spoken by Claudius in Act Iv Scene 5, the interpretation of this event or spoken word would vary. How one would interpret and respond to this speech during the Elizabethan era would be very different from how we would respond today in our Canadian society. Also, a person in India in today’s society would have yet another idea, thought or belief on this speech based on his or her experience living in another land.
Oh, this is the poison of deep grief. It springs
All from her father’s death, and now behold!
O Gertrude, Gertrude,
When sorrows come, they come not single spies
But in battalions. First, her father slain.
Next, your son gone, and he most violent author
Of his own just remove. The people muddied,
Thick, and unwholesome in their thoughts and whispers
For good Polonius' death, and we have done but greenly
In hugger-mugger to inter him. Poor Ophelia
Divided from herself and her fair judgment,
Without the which we are pictures, or mere beasts.
Last—and as much containing as all these—
Her brother is in secret come from France,
Feeds on his wonder, keeps himself in clouds,
And wants not buzzers to infect his ear
With pestilent speeches of his father’s death,
Wherein necessity, of matter beggared,
Will nothing stick our person to arraign
In ear and ear. O my dear Gertrude, this,
Like to a murdering piece, in many places
Gives me superfluous death. (Hamlet)
As stated earlier, revenge is a large underlying theme in the play of Hamlet. Revenge in today’s era differs in actions as it did in the Elizabethan era. The punishments now are much less disturbing and cruel and more humane. Although in this era it was considered normal to use such forms of punishment, including death or torture. When the audience would watch Shakespeare’s play in the Elizabethan era they would completely disregard or dismiss the number of people who died and the manner in which they met their demise. In this era, we cringe and are disturbed by murders and deaths. This is an example of how the ways of our society and cultures have changed over time.
When Claudius speaks of Polonius’ degrading and inhumane death, he feels great sorrow for an innocent man falling. He was not given a proper burial and society moved on without disruption. In a disease filled country such as India, it is not uncommon for guiltless people to be disrupted by deaths. Many illnesses in third world countries are incurable with the medical aid that is available. Consequently, people who do not deserve to die are being killed by illnesses that are just as cruel as murder. Although these deaths are tragedies, people are forced to move on and continue with their daily lives. Citizens who are living in third world countries would not be as affected as someone from our population by cruel deaths. People from these parts of the world would view this speech the same way Elizabethan people would. They are so used to death of innocent people that it does not phase them as much as it does us.
As the audience is aware, Claudius had ordered that Hamlet be sent to England at once and be killed by the King