Hamlet Style Analysis

Mallory L., Laura T., Sung N., Matt A.

What they said...

King Hamlet

Oh that wicked beast of a man with devious deceptions and traitorous intentions won my seemingly virtuous queen with the power of his seduction and deviousness. O Hamlet, how sad it makes me because I loved my wife and kept my vows but she lowered her standards for someone less than me. She must not have been truly virtuous because she sated her lust with my lewd brother. Her heavenly union with me was replaced with garbage. But wait, I think I smell the morning air. So let me be brief. As I was sleeping in the garden, as I normally do, your uncle came in an poured a poisoned liquid in my ear. The diseased liquid caused me to die rapidly because it fought my blood. A crust formed over my body. Thus my brother took my life, my crown, and my queen before I could repent while I was asleep. I was sent to judgement with all my awful thoughts and sins. It was very horrible. If you can, don't let this be. Don't let Denmark's royalty be just a place for greed and incest. But fix this somehow but don't let it taint your mind nor go against your mother. Allow God to judge her and let her feel guilt for her actions. Go at once. It's about to be morning. Goodbye. Don't forget.

King Claudius

Oh, I've done something awful. Heaven knows. The mark of Cain is on me; I murdered my brother. I cannot pray though I want to. My guilt is stronger than my intent. And I, like someone working both sides, am stuck in the middle not knowing what to do and neglecting both sides. Does this hand seem different for its covered in my brother's blood. Can't rain wash it away to be white. Isn't mercy for those who sin? Prayer is supposed to allows to be repent and prevent us from sinning. So I'll pray. My sin has already been committed but what prayer can I say, "forgive me for my murder"? That won't work because I'm still enjoying the repercussions: my crown, my ambition, and my queen. Can I be forgiven but keep the rewards? In the corrupted world, sin can escape justice and keep the prize. But this doesn't happen in heaven. There is no debate. We are bound to admit our actions and reasons. What happens then? What punishments follows? We're supposed to repent. What can't repentance do? But what happens when one cannot repent? O wretched self with a black heart. The more my soul struggles to be free from the sin, the more sinful it becomes. Help me angels. Make me pray and make my heart soft so that all can be well. My prayers go to heaven but my thoughts still plague me. Insincere prayers will never go to heaven.

Differing views of the crime

King Hamlet is most outraged over his wife. He is angry that his brother killed him for this but even more so at the queen for “declin[ing] [u]pon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor [t]o those of mine”. He is worried for Denmark, because he doesn't want “the royal bed of Denmark be [a] couch for luxury and damnèd incest” and that to be reflected as the image of the country. He is also very angry that he was killed in his sleep and left unable to repent. His brother was a coward for murdering him this way and does not deserve the queen or the crown. Claudius is only guilty because he fears God wrath. He understands his sin was awful but he enjoys “those effects for which [he] did the murder: [m]y crown, mine own ambition, and my queen”. He does ask forgiveness because he knows he will not get it. His prayers for forgiveness are meaningless because “[w]ords without thoughts never to heaven go”. King Hamlet leaves Hamlet instructions to avenge him and “bear it not”, while Claudius only goes through the motions of prayer.

Literary Devices

DICTION

King Hamlet's Soliloquy

Shakespeare chooses words such as incestuous and adulterate beast, to convince the audience of the depth of contempt for hamlet's uncle. Pointing to how he married his sister in law, and his deception without stating them in a way that just gives the situation, Shakespeare's diction says the same message with a complexity that gives the reader a better understanding the hate and contempt for the new king's actions that causes hamlet to feel so much hate towards his uncle.

King Claudius' Soliloquy

These choice of words that Shakespeare uses conveys the mistake and devious thing Claudius has done. He uses rank to say that it is so unbearable and unforgiving what he did to his brother by killing him and then marrying his brother's wife. When he says it smells to heaven he means that God knows about it and it is so horrible that he won't be forgiven for his sin.

King Claudius' Soliloquy

The phrase is Claudius asking if his hands were different since his brother's blood was all over them. By phrasing the murder as his brother’s blood is on his hand, Claudius is distancing himself from the murder. He does not want to outright say that he murdered his brother because he is worried what God will think of this. This choice of words was chosen by Shakespeare so. That the audience understands that Claudius has not come to terms with him murdering his brother and is fearful people can tell.

Allusion

King Claudius' Soliloquy

This is an allusion to the mark of Cain. Cain murdered his brother, Abel, and lied to God about him murdering him. When God found out, he punished Cain by marking him. Claudius is comparing himself to Cain, as they both murdered their brother, and saying that God can see he murdered his brother. Claudius is worried that other people can see that he murdered his brother.by Claudius comparing himself to one of the most despicable characaters in the Bible, he shows his guilt and his inherit evil.

IMAGERY

King Hamlet's Soliloquy

The image of thorns pricking her is to convey the just punishment Gertrude will receive according to the ghost, who admonishes her for her incestual actions and choice to level down. Shakespeare uses the image of leaving the queen to heaven and being stung to show that the queen will receive her just punishment, that even left alone, the queen will face her punitive fortune, so that the audience understands how inevitable the queens suffering is in the future.

King Hamlet's Soliloquy

Shakespeare evokes the image of the queen, Gertrude, being an angel with the previous king, lowering herself to be with garbage, or the new king and Hamlet's uncle. By comparing the queen's decision to marry the her brother in law after being with the first king, to an angel lowering herself to be with garbage, Shakespeare shows how poorly the ghost presents the new king and the choice of the queen to hamlet, who is adamant to resist his new stepfather. By seeing how badly Hamlet perceives the couple, the audience also gains an understanding as to why he thinks of murder and suicide, when his angelic mother lowers herself to be with garbage.

King Hamlet's Soliloquy

The image of the poison flowing through like water floods a city, attests to how deadly and impactful the poison was to the King's death. Shakespeare utilizes the image of the poison rushing through the king's body, to emphasize the death of the king in the eyes of Hamlet, who believes his father was murdered, to show how great an effect the idea has on Hamlet. With the death emphasized, the audience focuses more on how the death is a central occurrence that drives Hamlet to revenge, because a death that covers several ranting lines is much more pervasive in the story than simply saying he was poisoned.

METAPHOR

King Hamlet's Soliloquy

The reference to a royal bed becoming a couch for luxury and incest refers to the deteriorating effects of the new king and the queen being together, and means that the ghost is warning Hamlet to maintain the reputation of the kingdom. Shakespeare uses the metaphor to show how degrading the incestual relationship is, by comparing the royal kingdom bed to a household couch, so that the audience understands just how bad the the new king is in his eyes.

Metonomy

King Hamlet's Soliloquy

The hand represents the uncle's actions, the life the first king's life, the crown the position of king, and the queen the relationship and love the first king and the queen had, metonymy is used to represent many things in the phrase to emphasize the loss of the first king. Shakespeare utilizes shorter phrases that flow together to represent the many things that were taken from him so that he can include the king's vast loss in a simpler, continuous manner that still gives the reader whole message.

Simile

King Claudius' Soliloquy

This simile creates imagery in our minds to help us make a more vivid thought of Claudius wanting to be not guilty hence him saying to wash it. He also says he wants to be pure again because he feels that he has committed many sins. That's why he says white as snow. He wants to have heaven understand his situation and make him become as pure as a newborn baby. He can't ever be pure again because he is still enjoying the fruits of his sins which are his crown and his wife. Shakespeare uses the imagery of this section to illustrate Claudius’ hopes of repent.

King Claudius' Soliloquy

The creates simile so we can see how bad and tainted Claudius’s heart is. His heart is black because he killed his own brother for the throne and his wife. This builds the meaning that he is evil deep inside and even if he wanted to be good, he cannot because he is inherently evil. The simile is used to show Claudius’ understanding that he is evil and to make everything more dramatic.
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