Hamlet's Intricacies Of Authority-Based Relationships

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William Shakespeare’s Hamlet explores the intricacies of authority-based relationships, such as those between parent and child. Prince Hamlet of Demark loses his father two months prior to the start of the play, and the narrative consists of his struggles in dealing with this loss. King Hamlet’s untimely death prevents the natural decline of filial admiration and leaves Price Hamlet with an idolized view of his father. This idolization negatively affects both Hamlet’s values and actions. King Fortinbras also died before the beginning of the play, but his son, Prince Fortinbras, is able to move past unequivocal admiration of his father. Through the actions of these two princes, Shakespeare demonstrates the negative effects of perpetual admiration,…show more content…
King Fortinbras was killed in a conflict with King Hamlet and Fortinbras has reason to seek revenge on Demark, the kingdom of his father’s killer, Fortinbras is not hostile towards King Claudius. On his journey, Fortinbras sends a messenger to “greet the Danish king”(4.4.1). He tells the messenger, “Tell him that by his license Fortinbras / Craves the conveyance of a promised march / Over his kingdom” (4.4.2-4). His use of the word “license” suggests a professional and official relationship between Fortinbras and King Claudius. This is very different than the open rivalry between King Fortinbras and King Hamlet. The word “craves” suggests Fortinbras’s selfish desire. This desire to march through Demark, as well as Fortinbras’s possible need to avenge his father, suggests that Fortinbras may be using this official relationship with Demark as means for revenge. By using this new strategy of sly diplomacy, Fortinbras has forgone his father’s method of direct confrontation and combat with his enemy. Instead of imitating his role model, Fortinbras creates an identity and strategy all his own. Fortinbras strategy suggests that he was able to realize the flaws in his father’s strategy instead of admiring them blindly. Eventually, Fortinbras takes the kingdom of Denmark, which Hamlet was the heir to. This represents the triumph of…show more content…
Hamlet’s fate demonstrates the consequences of perpetual admiration. Hamlet idolizes his father and his characteristics, because he fails to realize that his father has flaws. His veneration and attempts to emulate his father’s values lead Hamlet to be personally unsuccessful in his life and have negative effects on his character. His only achievement is gaining revenge for his father, and he is unable to achieve personal goals because of his distorted admiration for his father. However, the negative effects of idolizing an authority figure do not only apply to children like Hamlet. In fact, in the very first scene, Horatio says, “our valiant Hamlet / (For so this side of our known world esteemed him) / Did slay this Fortinbras” (1.1.96-97). As a leader and an authority figure, a king can seem respectable to his subjects, but this quote reveals how a subject can be biased towards his ruler. Shakespeare’s Hamlet acts as a warning against blindly revering anyone in a position of authority and encourages one to create and live by his or her own set of

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