Exploring Cultural Identity in Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

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Exploring Cultural Identity in Shakespeare's Hamlet

In William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, the concept of cultural identity is explored through Hamlet's isolation which is created by the conflict between his duty to his father, and his duties to the monarchy and society. Hamlet is isolated from his society due to his turbulent emotions which result from his indecision on how to respond to his father's murder. Hamlet's duty as a son is to avenge his father's death and he would be supported in his actions by society if the murderer was believed to be guilty. Hamlet's duty as a citizen and a Prince is to protect the King and to ensure stability in the monarchy. In order for Hamlet to revenge his father he would have to kill the King
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(I.5.99-104)

Hamlet seems to decide with determination that he will "wipe away" all of his memories of "youth", and all "past pressures" so that the ghost's "commandment" to seek revenge would be his only focus, without the distraction of "baser matter". Hamlet's duty as a son is shown clearly at this point where he accepts the ghost's words, be it from fear or loyalty, and he appears to decide that he must fulfil his duty and kill Claudius. If he were to do otherwise, Hamlet knows that the values he believes in, and therefore the values of the society which raised him, would not permit him to live as a noble and worthy son and citizen.

Hamlet's duty to the monarchy and his role in society are in direct conflict with his duty as a son. Hamlet's duty to the monarchy is to protect the King and Hamlet's role in society as a Prince is to show leadership, live an honourable life and ensure stability in the kingdom. It is socially expected of Hamlet to protect the King and his position as Prince determines his need to obey society's moral values to remain a noble and worthy person. A direct conflict would occur if Hamlet were to kill Claudius because he would fulfil his duties as a son but society would view his actions as betraying the society and the monarchy. He would be acting against his own socially enforced values and in the opinion of society, and perhaps in his own

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