Christian Morals versus Barbaric Customs in Hamlet Essay
Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, is a tragic play set in Denmark during the early seventeenth century. It was written at the same time the Bible was being translated by King James. Like the Bible, Hamlet is full of problems that all humans experience. These problems are best seen through the internal struggle of Prince Hamlet. The source of Hamlet's internal struggle, which is the direct contrast of his Christian education versus Denmark's barbaric customs, is developed throughout the play through the use of imagery, characterization, and theme.
Imagery is used to show how Hamlet's Christian morals differ from Denmark's customs.
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O God! a beast that wants discourse of reason, Would have mourn'd longer,-married with mine uncle, My father's brother; but no more like my father Than I to Hercules: within a month; Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears Had left the flushing in her galled eyes, She married:-O, most wicked speed, to post With such dexterity to incestuous sheets! (I.ii.150-157)
Hamlet is saying that an animal with no emotions would mourn longer than Claudius and Gertrude want him to. Claudius is nothing like a father to Hamlet. Gertrude married Claudius before her tears dried. The images of a wild animal mourning and tears "flushing" Gertrude's eyes show Hamlet's moral problems. Gertrude's incestuous act is morally wrong. Images of incest and false pain illustrate Hamlet's moral problem.
The images depicted by Shakespeare are further clarified through the relationships of his characters.
The relationships between Hamlet's characters reveal the contrasting beliefs of Christian and barbaric customs. Hamlet says, "A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm." Claudius asks what he means by this and Hamlet responds "Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar. (IV,iii,29-33)" Hamlet is talking in riddles