Ethical Issues In Hamlet Research Paper

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Hamlet is a revenge tragedy that explores the multitude of complex values and issues prevalent within Shakespeare’s society. As we engage with the text, we realise it to be a depiction of universal human concerns, and as such allows the play to have continued relevance today. Through the inherent tension between conflict and resolution in Hamlet, we question our self imposed morals, as well as becoming aware of the deception and corruption surrounding us. It is the inherent need for humanity to define themselves and their surroundings which drives our pursuit for knowledge. However Shakespeare raises the fundamental question of our grasp on reality as he opens with a question “whos there?”, effectively introducing the element of uncertainty…show more content…
He becomes conflicted by his father’s orders to “revenge his foul and most unnatural murder”, whereby his notion of taking private revenge on Claudius prevents him from acting as this paganist approach contradicts his humanist ideals. Moreover, the dominant religious milieu saw the appointment of the King by divine intervention, which brings forth Hamlet’s dilemma of whether he should “kill a king”, even one who is a murderer of the previous king. This moral quandary is impressed onto the audience as we empathise with Hamlet’s difficult decision. This is reinforced through his soliloquy “this is hire and salary, not revenge” metaphorically describing Hamlet’s obsession with justice and revenge, and is reinforced through rhetorical question “for in that sleep of death what dreams may come?”, engaging with the question of knowing what we see, and believing in something we can’t as is prevalent throughout the play. Hamlet eventually overcomes his morals as he murders Claudius, to which the court initially calls “treason! Treason!”, mirroring the voice of the audience as we speak out against the toppling of the social hierarchy. But we come to realise that, in reality, the moral order of the world is restored, and Claudius ‘death by “a poison temper’d by himself”. Shakespeare explores ideals of “accepting the order of the universe and to become a passive instrument in the hands of a purposive and benevolent god” as is mentioned by Irving Ribner. This idea is carried through Claudius’ hubris in killing a king and brings forth ideas of fatalism, whereby Claudius would have repented for his sins regardless of Hamlet’s intervention. These ideas are revealed through a critical study of the text, and allow us to understand the tension between confrontation and

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