The Theme Of Family In Hamlet

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One great writer by the name of Leo Tolstoy once wrote “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” In a similar light Shakespeare seems to have a similar view on family, if his plays are any reflection on his personal ideologies. As probably the most successful playwright in history, it is surprising to see that Shakespeare’s plays were not too different from each other. Once broken up into the there four genres, the tragedies are alike, the comedies are alike and so on and so forth. But one thing that does not change through out any of Shakespeare’s plays is how heavily the plot tends to rely on family. And sure when first analyzing that statement it may seem pretty obvious; everyone one has a family so it …show more content…
While family is typically shown in the media to be a bond of love between the characters, this could not be further from the truth in the case of Hamlet. In Hamlet, despite loving his dead father, Shakespeare has very little emotion except despair when referring to the rest of his family. Even before finding out that it was his uncle who murdered his father, he still resented his uncle, and newly stepfather, and his mother greatly for feeling that his father was not giving a proper grieving period and the shockingly quick marriage between his uncle and mother. In fact, the whole plot of Hamlet is Hamlet trying to get revenge upon his Uncle and not caring how it would affect his Gertrude. This is shown in Act 3 Scene 4, where Hamlet kills who he thinks is Claudius in front of his mother and then proceeds to yell at her and really disrespect her greatly.

Another play where family is truly the center of conflict is Romeo and Juliet. In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo sees Juliet at a party and falls in love instantly. However due to the century long feud between their families, they cannot be together despite there love for each other. This feud is so bad that their families are literally killing each other in the streets and the Prince has to make a law that whoever breaks the peace is killed. This leads to Romeo getting exiled and complicating the relationship to the point where they both end up
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In the Tempest, the conflict with in the family goes back before the play even starts. While Prospero starts the conflict in the play by creating the storm, his brother Antonio wronged him beforehand, when Antonio and King Alonso send him to an island twelve years before the play takes place.

One play that takes the idea of family in the other direction is Macbeth. In Macbeth, Macbeth comes home after speaking with the witches with this crazy idea of becoming king. With the help and encouragement of his wife, Lady Macbeth, they set out to kill the king and take over and through the power of them working together they manage to succeed. Although the success is it short lived, it would not be possible if lady Macbeth either discouraged her husband’s idea or turn in her husband for plotting against the king.

So it is evident that family is a tremendous part of many, if not all of Shakespeare’s plays. The reason I find this so significant is because while Shakespeare’s plays are very well versed, they all comeback to one part which is family. Whether it is a play about a should be duke that has the power to create storms, to a historically accurate play about kings, all of his plays seem to rely on family as a backbone to the plot. I find this very interesting because I feel it makes all of his plays more relatable. While you may not have powers, or be royalty, or even find magical fairies in the woods

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