The Role Of Loss Of Personal Identity In Shakespeare's Hamlet

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Shakespeare’s Hamlet exposes the tragic inevitability of death and the implicit loss of personal identity. In such a meaningless world it may seem like individuals have no genuine choice and thus struggle with some internal conflict of the mind. Hamlet’s own dilemma reflects this struggle, as he is torn between duty to his father and duty to conventional Elizabethan morality and selfhood. Shakespeare ultimately concludes that familial obligation is, in itself, ‘conventional morality’, and therefore proves that in honouring personal relationships one can overcome internal struggle by serving both their family and their religion, but at a significant cost to the human condition. Shakespeare presents Elsinore as a morally ambiguous reality, the former…show more content…
Hamlet’s father’s death disrupts Hamlet’s selfhood relative to the world around him, leaving him with a sense of cosmic powerlessness. Considering the Elizabethan emphasis on servitude to God, and thus avoiding ‘hell’, Hamlet’s means of resolution are limited, leaving him trapped psychologically and circumstantially within the “inky cloak” of inescapable depression In scene II of Act I, Hamlet juxtaposes definitive articles, dismissing everyone else’s grief as false compared to his own: they “seem”, but he “is” – reflecting that, regardless of his personal will, Hamlet cannot change the situation that has fallen upon him. Similarly, in Act III, Hamlet refuses to kill a praying Claudius, fearing it afford him a passage to Heaven. As Robert Bunten remarks, Hamlet’s pursuit to avoid becoming the Humean “passion’s slave” alienates him from his very selfhood: he becomes unable to be his father’s son and avenge King Hamlet’s death, nor conform to the era’s dominant morality: he cannot honour moral sanctions nor familial

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